WENTZVILLE - Perhaps prophetic, Austin Meine said he wanted to make baseball a part of his life for as long as possible when he signed his college letter of intent six years ago at Wright City High School.
And while his playing days are behind him, he’s still found a way to stay in the game.
A former ace pitcher himself, Meine is now in the business of bringing out the best in those who hope to marvel on the mound.
The 2013 WCHS graduate is the Director of Pitching Development for Premier Pitching and Performance (P3), which has become a Midwestern Mecca for aspiring Major Leaguers by utilizing a facility full of technology to tailor personalized training programs.
“I’m really happy here,” Meine said. “There’s a lot of new experiences everyday. I get to work with everybody from youth to professional athletes. There’s really no monotony in this job.”
A two-time all-state performer during his Wright City days, Meine hit .458 and carried a 1.06 ERA through 54 innings of work while guiding the Wildcats to their first district title appearance in seven years his senior season. He then played at St. Louis Community College and Lindenwood University where he finished his career and earned a degree in exercise science.
“I was plagued by some injuries during my own baseball journey and that got me interested and passionate about helping people rehab and overcome things like that,” Meine said.
Meine started with P3 as an intern in 2017. His role expanded as the organization itself grew, moving from a shared space in South County to its own building on Highway N in Wentzville in the fall of 2018, while quadrupling the number of athletes it serves.
P3 has Lindenwood roots and was co-founded by current CEO Josh Kesel and Brian De Lunas, who now serves as the Director of Pitching Development & Strategies for the Seattle Mariners.
“There were a lot of great minds here before me and I took every opportunity I could to pick those minds,” Meine said. “For me to be able to learn from their experiences in professional baseball has really helped mold me into the role I have now.”
Meine and the gang at P3 clearly know what they’re doing as seven of P3 College Program members were selected in June’s 2019 Major League Baseball draft, including 6-foot-8 Jackson Rutledge (Rockwood Summit), who was chosen 17th overall out of San Jacinto College by the Washington Nationals.
But the most feel-good P3 success story might belong to John Means.
The 26-year-old southpaw and 11th round pick out of West Virginia transformed from a nondescript prospect for the Baltimore Orioles into MLB’s most unlikely All-Star in only a few months time.
The rookie currently leads the Orioles in WAR and has an 8-6 record with a 3.12 ERA.
How the heck did he make the leap?
“It’s what I did in the offseason,” Means told USA Today. “I changed things up, went to a pitching facility (P3) and learned a routine to get the most out of my body. I was only kind of a ‘thrower’ in the minor leagues. I wasn’t really a ‘pitcher’ yet. And I didn’t know exactly what I was doing.”
Means also didn’t know he had the capability to throw one of the nastiest change ups in the game.
But he learned how lethal the pitch could be by using technology like the Rapsodo Camera and radar system, which gave him instant feedback on his pitches. And also going through data on public sites like Brooksbaseball.net.
Means, a Kansas native, did this by working with Meine and making the three-hour-plus drive to P3 twice a week in the winter.
"It was definitely an investment, but it got me to where I am today, so I can't complain," Means said.
The continued success of P3 has earned the organization more clients, including several Division I college baseball programs from across the country.
Meine is just enjoying the ride.
“The minds that I have around me continue to push me in terms of personal and professional development,” said Meine. “There’s not really a lot more I ask for honestly.”