For some reason, the market of Junior Big Barrel bats is the most confusing market you’ll find. Some models specifically call themselves “Junior Big Barrels” while others are just considered “youth” bats. You can also search “Coach Pitch” bats to help.
If you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for, then your search can be difficult. In fact, on some sites, if you search “Junior Big Barrel” you’ll get about four models. What’s worse, you can find junior big barrels and youth big barrels. There is a significant difference between the two.
So, we want to start this article by detailing what exactly makes a junior big barrel bat. Then we’ll look at the market.
Is It A Junior Big Barrel?
As we mentioned in the opening, there are some pretty strict specs that define exactly what a junior big barrel is. As the name implies, these are bats with a larger barrel than you’d typically see. The purpose is to help younger players learn how to hit.
Most BBCOR models have a 2″ barrel diameter which can be difficult for younger players. A junior big barrel baseball bat can have a 2 5/8″ diameter or a 2 3/4″ diameter. The bat is designed for slower speeds, so you really shouldn’t be using it in a league that has pitching above 45 MPH.
Below is a list with all of the specifications you should be looking for:
- The barrel diameter is 2 5/8″ or 2 3/4″.
- The weight ratio needs to be between -8 and -13.5.
- The length must be between 26″ and 34″.
The Best Coach Pitch/JBB Bats 2021:
1. Marucci CAT9 JBB
The first thing you’ll notice in this article is that Marucci is absolutely the top name in 2021. Other companies have made great models, but it seems that they only make the models every few years.
The CAT9 has a sleek design that features black, grey, silver and red. It’s definitely eye-catching. The bat is made with AZR alloy and a multi-variable wall. This decreases swing weight which increases bat speed. The multi-variable wall also increases the sweet spot. The CAT9 is a -10 model that comes in 4 different lengths (24-27 inches). It does have a 2 3/4″ diameter.
Younger players have told us they like the feel of this bat in their hands. It’s light but the design is able to reduce vibration on bad hits. If we’re talking about 5-7 year old players, comfort is a key issue that you should consider. It is designed to have a balanced swing weight which seems to really benefit younger players.
The bat is a bit expensive when you consider what you’re getting into. At $220, you’re paying a premium for younger players who shouldn’t, necessarily, be ultra-competitive.
Marucci has another CAT9 model called the CAT9 Pastime. It’s another great bat, but it’s literally the same bat with a different exterior. It has the same barrel technology, metallic build, and handle. You’re not getting anything special, so it comes down to whether you prefer the patriotic style or the typical sleek design that is found in mainstream version.
2. Axe Elite One
If you’ve read our other articles, you know that we’re big fans of the Axe brand. They offer a great Junior Big Barrel model in the Elite One. Unfortunately, this is a perfect example of how confusing this market can be. Some places mention this as a junior big barrel bat while others don’t specifically state it. Looking at the specs on this bat, it meets all the qualifications and has an NTS certification.
The Axe Elite One is great bat in every category. Axe has continued that with their junior big barrel installment. The bat features MX8 alloy which is designed for ultra-durability. It has a Hyperwhip end cap that improves the swing weight and should make the bat feel lighter in a hitter’s hand. The Elite One offers a balanced swing weight.
This is one of our favorite junior big barrel models on the market. One thing that you should consider is that Axe is known for their unique handle. Rather than the bat knob being, relatively, flat they use an axe handle meaning the handle is angled. It’s definitely a different feel than most bats you’ll find.
Because of that, you should have your player test this bat out before buying it. If you start a young player with an axe model, you may need to keep buying axe models as they get older. Given the premium quality that Axe offers, you could have bigger problems. But just consider whether or not you want to pick something specialized at such a young age.
At $200, the Elite One’s price tag is right in line with the best junior big barrel models on the market.
3. Marucci CAT9 Composite JBB
The CAT9 Composite is our favorite two-piece Junior Big Barrel. This model is a -10 but only comes in a 26″ or 27″ model. This two-piece is all-composite material that features an outer-locking system. That just means that it attaches the handle and the barrel from the outside rather than the inside. You’ll notice that the connection point looks a bit different than most bats.
Its $250 price tag makes it one of the most expensive Junior Big Barrel models. Most players (and parents) have said that they’re happy with it. Considering that it’s only $30 more expensive than the standard model, we tend to agree. If you’re already in a premium market, then $30 doesn’t seem like a significant increase.
This is the best Junior Big Barrel model for larger players. Most reviews will tell you that the end-loaded swing weight isn’t that noticeable, but we believe it’s enough to stand out. These bats are designed for young players trying to find their place in the game. So, a player with a small frame isn’t going to be able to handle this bat the same way that a larger player will.
4. Rawlings 5150 JBB
This 5150 is a one-piece all-alloy model that has a 2 5/8″ barrel diameter. It has an eye-catching green and black design. This model has a balanced swing weight that makes it something that almost any player can handle. With a $70 price tag, it is one of the cheapest Coach Pitch/Junior Big Barrel bats that you’ll find.
Unfortunately, the fact that the Rawlings 5150 made this list speaks to the market more than the quality of this bat. It’s definitely received some mixed reviews. We’ve checked multiple sites to get customer feedback and each site mentions that the bat’s durability is lacking in a major way. Whether players mention dents and rattles or just call the bat “hollow”, it’s not a great endorsement. The players that we have personally talked to have said the same thing.
Rawlings is one of the best brands in the business, but they simply missed the mark here. They do provide a 1-year warranty, so if the bat fails, you can get it replaced.
If we’re being honest, we weren’t fully comfortable posting something that offered a review of four bats with one bat that we can’t really recommend. So, we’re going to offer a quick view of some older models that we really like.
5. Marucci CAT8 JBB
We mentioned in our opening that Marucci was the premier company in this arena. The Marucci CAT8 has developed a reputation as the best Junior Big Barrel bat that you can find. Even with some age, it’s price tag tops out at about $160-$180 depending on the size that you choose.
- Soft-touch grip offers more tack in hitter’s hands.
- Sting-free knob decreases vibration.
- Known for having great pop.
- AZ105 alloy designed for more durability.
- Designed with a lower swing weight making it easier to swing.
6. Louisville Slugger Omaha JBB
Last year’s LS Omaha is one of the best Junior Big Barrel options from the last few years. It’s got a great design and durable construction.
- Great durability.
- Good pop.
- Better taper than competition.
- Comfortable in a hitter’s hands.
- One-piece alloy model.
- Only $115 makes this the best value Coach Pitch bat you’ll find.
7. Easton Maxum 360 JBB
The Maxum 360 is a one-piece composite bat that offers comfort and performance. The bat has a bit of a unique taper that is designed to decrease the swing weight.
- Offers great value.
- Custom Lizard Skin grip adds padding in hitter’s hands for comfort.
- One-piece alloy model.
We understand how difficult the Junior Big Barrel market can be. We hope this guide helps and we promise, as your young player gets older, understanding the differences between bats will come a little easier. In time, the verbiage becomes a bit clearer.
Looking at all of the options listed in this article, we’d recommend looking at some of the older models. Each of the older models listed will perform just as well as any of the 2021 models and they’ll come at a significant discount.