Over the long, desolate, baseball-impoverished winter, New Balance dropped an innovative new cleat that caught my eye. The Minimus line of New Balance footwear is designed to give a “close-to-barefoot” experience—that might be a preference for runners, but to ballplayers its a myth. Not once in my life have I put on a cleat and had any doubt that I was wearing a baseball cleat. You come to expect the stiffness, the heaviness, that’s what a baseball cleat is supposed to be, right?
Not this one. My first impression with the Minimus was just putting them on and walking around my apartment, and right away they felt like nothing I’d ever worn. They felt so low to the ground (4mm drop) that I honestly felt like I was wearing tennis shoes. They are as light as New Balance technology could reasonably allow (9.8 oz), and the feel reminded me of an adidas Samba (soccer turfs).
I took them out for a couple of practices so far, and coming from the original 4040 which was already pretty damn good for ranging in center field, the Minimus feels extraordinarily agile. The combination of a remarkably thin “FantomFit” upper and a very low profile tongue creates a form-fit that I’ve never felt before in a baseball cleat. As far as top speed and change of direction, I doubt there is a better shoe on the market.
I haven’t had a chance to pitch with them yet, but my instincts tell me that these probably aren’t the best shoe for going the distance, just based on the streamlined design prioritizing speed over support. However, they are sufficiently supportive for a position player, though I can’t speak on how it would handle the rigors of a pro, college, or even high school schedule.
Overall, I am a big fan of New Balance’s approach with the Minimus cleat. When you put it on, you will feel like you’re wearing a low-profile turf/training shoe, and the Minimus performs just the same. If you’re a guy who uses his legs and athleticism to get an advantage on the diamond, the Minimus is for you.