By Drew Eastland ’21, Sports Editor
Starting any new job is always a challenge, but joining a college sports team during a global pandemic––now that is tough. Dylan Elber, the newest member of Davidson’s baseball staff, will join the ‘Cats as Director of Player Development. I spoke with Elber over Zoom to learn about what he will bring to the team.
Q: You have experience at the MLB level. Can you talk about that experience?
A: I spent one year as an intern with the Red Sox, two years with the Pirates, and this was my third year with the Yankees. I’ve always been in player development doing mostly video stuff. The Yankees, they take that position to the next level. You’ll help out with advanced scouting on top of video, but you’ll also do all the travel at the affiliate.
Q: How does your professional experience translate to Davidson baseball?
A: With the Yankees, as guys were sent up and sent down, you’re the one booking the flight; you’re the one doing the hotel room list and coordinating with the other affiliates. That’s something I can help with right away on the administrative side. I think seeing how the Yankees worked with their players and trying to bring some of the pro stuff into the college game could help in development and bring new ideas.
Q: How does the college game differ from pro ball?
A: In college baseball, it’s more of a win-now mentality as opposed to development in minor league baseball. In the pros, we more often consider, ‘Where will this player be two to three years down the road?’ So, I’m excited to work with Coach [Parker] Bangs and just gather the data on the guys and see what we can come up with. I’ve had some great conversations with him already, and he’s had some experience with pro-ball as well.
Q: What has your day-to-day been like since joining the staff?
A: What my day consists of right now is watching as much video as I can on [the players]. I’m starting to look at some numbers and some of the analytical trends. I’m trying to familiarize myself with as much as I can so that the learning curve isn’t quite as big when I get to [Davidson].
Q: Have you had any interaction with either the players or coaching staff regarding previous incidents between the baseball team and other students? Have there been conversations about those complaints against the players and the larger baseball culture you’ve participated in?
A: Right now, I’m still in Florida and really only started working remotely within the last week, so I have had no interactions with the players yet. Coach Taylor mentioned what was going on and some of the steps being taken. He has asked me to do a discussion on the Negro Leagues with the team because I have done a project on it in the past, and MLB celebrated the 100th Anniversary this year, so now is a great time to talk about the league’s history.
Q: What do you think the upcoming season will look like?
A: In terms of COVID, I think it’s anyone’s guess right now. I’m just trying to stay optimistic about it. COVID is out of our control. Baseball-wise: it’s an exciting program; Coach Taylor does a great job putting it together…and you have Coach Bangs who has experience in pro ball, as well as Coach Lesiak who has coaching experience at a couple different schools.
Q: What led you to a career in baseball and player development?
A: I took a very strange route getting into baseball. As a kid, I gravitated toward fast-paced sports like lacrosse and basketball. From a young age, I was always interested in prospects and the farm system…I became a huge prospect junkie, and I loved collecting baseball cards for the next great thing. Sports have always been my passion.
Q: I saw you were a history major in college: Do you have a favorite moment in history or sports history?
A: I’ve always liked reading about the Revolutionary War period and Civil War period. I found that stuff fascinating. My favorite moment in sports history was the McGwire/Sosa home run race. I remember trying to copy both guys’ stances in the backyard. Just a great time to become a baseball fan when something so exciting was happening.