Ridgway bat-maker looks to leave mark on MLB Home Run Derby

RIDGWAY, ILLINOIS - No one really likes a deadline, but when you're Kyle Drone and two of your biggest clients need bats for the 2018 Home Run Derby, you get to work. Quickly.

Drone owns Dinger Bats, whose major league clientele includes Chicago Cubs star Kyle Schwarber and Philadelphia Phillies standout Rhys Hoskins. Both of them will be swinging Dingers in Monday night's Home Run Derby in Washington D.C.

Drone said his team went to work earlier this week, making an additional three bats for both players. After putting on the finishing touches - including a special design - the bats were shipped in less than 24 hours.

"This is another milestone for us," Drone said. "Those two guys have been with us for the better part of four or five years now. It's nice to have guys that are loyal stick with you, and then reach a high success like they have and represent you."

Schwarber still swings his custom made KS-10 bat, which weighs 31 ounces. is 34 inches long and is made of maple from New York state. Hoskins's bat is 34 inches long, weighs 32 ounces and is called the RH-17.

For the Home Run Derby, Dinger gave their bats custom paint jobs and designs. Drone, however, prefers to remain mysterious as to what they look like, and said fans will have to wait until Monday night.

Schwarber has 17 home runs this season, to go with 64 hits, 39 RBI and 43 runs scored. He sports a .247 batting averaging an on-base percentage of .474 and an OPS of .864.

In his career, Schwarber has 210 hits, 63 home runs and 141 RBI.

Hoskins has 14 home runs heading into the All-Star break, with 56 runs driven in, a .254 batting average and 76 hits. SDo far in his career, the Sacramento, California native has 32 home runs, 104 RBI, 120 hits and a .256 batting average.

Other participants in the Home Run Derby are Chicago Cubs infielder Javier Baez, Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Jesus Aguilar, Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman, Los Angeles Dodgers infielder Max Muncy, Houston Astros infielder Alex Bregman and Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper.

The Dinger Bats corporation has grown significantly in the last couple of years, so much so they have added a brand new lathe in their wood shop, as well as a fully functional paint line.

Drone's clientele list is rounded out at 90 and include MLB stars Mark Reynolds, Scotter Gennett, J.J. Hardy, Hunter Pence and David Freese.

He and his father, Randy, will fly to D.C. on Sunday and have a front-row seat for the Home Run Derby. He expects both Schwarber and Hoskins to both put on a good show.

As the pairings work out, if both Schwarber and Hoskins make it out of the first round, the two would square off against each other in the second round.

It's not the championship showdown Drone was hoping for, but he's happy for both.

"These are both great guys and we really hope they put on a great show," he said. "It would be really nice to see one of them go up against (Bryce) Harper and beat him on his home field."

Michael Dann covers prep and college sports for the Southern Illinois LOCAL Media News Group. Follow him on Twitter at @spydieshooter.

A model KS-10 bat like the ones swung by Chicago Cubs outfielder Kyle Schwarber. MICHAEL DANN/