By Jay McEvoy
Mizuno is one of the most recognizable brands on the planet, and has been known for outfitting some slick-fielding pros: Brett Gardner, Andrelton Simmons, Ichiro, and Chris Sale are a few of the many big leaguers who have shown loyalty to the Runbird this year (some for their entire careers). In Spring Training, another star was added to the list, as Cubs outfielder Kyle Schwarber was seen using a blonde 12.75 H-web model. As beautiful as it was, one question remained: “What…Is it?” The answer to that is the 2018 Mizuno Pro.
Mizuno is introducing two entirely new lines of baseball gloves this year, made with the highest quality materials and a dedication to position-specific performance. According to Mizuno USA representative Michael Bersch, this new line comes from extensive field research as well as interviews and hands-on experience from some of the best in the business that “eat, sleep, and breathe baseball glove design.”
The Mizuno brand, known in the baseball world from 12” gloves to 5” wristbands and everything in between, is attempting to bridge the price gap between its current top-of-the-line Pro Limited gloves ($600) and its intermediate Classic Pro series ($210) while maintaining its high standard for performance and craftsmanship. Their pursuit of perfection in all that they do, coupled with a more affordable price tag, should make for a popular debut this fall.
Schwarber’s model, also in use by Cardinals outfielder Stephen Piscotty, is the brand-new Mizuno Pro GMP2-700DH. Made entirely of the finest U.S. kip leather, the Pro Series offers a supple, soft feel with the durability created by the tighter fibers that only kip can provide. Mizuno integrated it into their palm liner, giving the user the same consistent feel throughout the entire glove. With respect to pattern development, this is where Mizuno feels like their meticulous attention to detail has led to top-notch design. “Mizuno Glove Craftsman Nori examined over 1000 glove shells throughout his trips to Spring Training,” said Bersch, “and he determined that guys were breaking in their gloves with the pocket up under the web instead of in the center of the pocket. We tweaked the pattern to allow for this, leading to our new Comfortable Hand Patterns and Player Pocket Designs.”
The glove-loving public can look forward to an array of choices with respect to pocket depth, including a shallow (S) and regular (R) depth 11 ½” models for middle infielders, a deeper pocket (D) 11 ¾” model for SS and the hot corner, a 12” pitcher’s model, two 12 ¾” deep-pocket outfield models, a 33 ½” catcher’s mitt, and a 13” first baseman’s mitt. Add in the split welt to the eye-catching blonde color, and Mizuno is set to turn heads with the Mizuno Pro release. For the price of $350, Mizuno is setting the stage to compete for your attention against the Rawlings Pro Preferred line, also made of kip leather, at the same price point.
But there are some of us out there, for whatever personal preference, that do not prefer kip leather for their defensive weapon of choice (myself included). Mizuno has us covered with the Mizuno Pro Select Series, which offers the same exact pattern technology and choices, but uses U.S. Steerhide leather instead of kip. The Pro Select Series comes in an alluring dark brown caramel color, and features rolled welting for finger stability instead of split. At a retail price of $250, Mizuno’s Pro Select Series is contending against the likes of Rawlings Heart of the Hide, Wilson A2000, and the to-be-released Easton Legacy Elite, among others near the same price point.
Mizuno isn’t messing with a good thing as it pertains to their elite Pro Limited line. You can expect the same extremely high-quality features that separates the Pro Limiteds from other brands, including their Speed Drive Technology, where each pattern is weighted and balanced per position to optimize performance and durability. Pro Limiteds, compared to the newly launched lines, are made of Northern European kip leather, and the leather undergoes a proprietary tanning process while being individually handmade in Haga, Japan. Pro Limiteds sport the luxurious Shika Palm, made of super soft deerskin, and also offers owners a one-time repair and reconditioning program to restore your glove by some of the best glove craftsman on earth.
Lastly, Mizuno plans to revamp its custom builder, removing the Classic Pro as the main canvas of its custom line. Most of the information regarding specific custom glove features is still in development, but the Pro and Pro Select lines will be taking over as the leather base for Mizuno’s custom offerings.
At a Glance, 2018 Mizuno Pro Glove Line
Line Leather Price (USD)
Pro Limited Deguchi Kip $600
Pro U.S. Kip $350
Pro Select U.S. Steerhide $250