[This article by Kyle Dawson was first published in the Kennesaw State University Magazine, republished with permission]
KENNESAW, Ga. | Jun 28, 2023
Kennesaw State alum Drew Plant has baseball in his blood. However, his time spent at KSU working with Owls Baseball and getting two degrees is what inspired Plant to pursue a career in the sport. He achieved his goal in 2022 after accepting a position as a baseball operations assistant with Major League Baseball’s Los Angeles Angels.
With the Angels, Plant primarily focuses on scouting amateur players the organization can develop over time. He evaluates the prospects analytically, collaborates with the research and development department and the team’s scouts across the country, and handles administrative tasks. On a typical day, Plant works from his office in Angel Stadium or travels around the country to watch top amateur prospects play.
“I knew pretty early on in high school that the playing side of baseball was not going to work out for me,” Plant said. “However, I loved the game and knew I still wanted to work in it. My focus quickly turned to what I needed to do to make a career in baseball.”
To carve out his professional place in baseball, Plant turned to KSU. He worked with KSU Baseball as a student assistant, and later as director of analytics, while getting his Bachelor of Science in Sports Management and his Master of Science in Applied Statistics and Analytics.
In his first year with KSU Baseball, he began to recognize the growing importance of statistics and analytics in the game.
“Because I never played at the college or professional level, I knew that gaining knowledge and experience in the analytical side of the game would be important for me,” Plant said. “Luckily for me, the more I learned about the analytics and how they were being used, the more intrigued I became. Baseball is an ever-evolving game, but using data to comprehend as much as possible has always been fascinating to me.”
After graduating with his bachelor’s degree in 2019, Plant began working with the baseball team full time while pursuing his master’s degree. The program allowed Plant to intertwine his love for baseball with his pathway to a career in the sport: statistics and analytics.
Assistant professor of statistics Austin Brown said the Master of Science in Applied Statistics and Analytics program is unique because it is designed with applicability in mind. Each student is allowed to choose projects to work on, including independent studies with a faculty member.
Brown said Plant is a great example of what the program is designed to do, which is to develop a broad analytical toolbox with applications in a given industry or discipline.
“(Plant) possessed what I consider the greatest indicators of academic and professional success: persistence and determination,” Brown said. “The other aspect about Drew that made him so successful in the program was that he entered the program with a goal of what he wanted to do with the degree. Because of this, he was able to really fine-tune his academic experience to be sports-analytics oriented. Drew is a kind, easy-going, and relatable person, and the Angels are incredibly fortunate to have him on their team.”
Long before attending Brown’s statistics classes and honing his skills in baseball operations at KSU, Plant developed a love for the game that ran deeper than most fans. Plant’s father worked in the Atlanta Braves’ front office since Plant was 5 years old. He said having a father who worked in baseball sparked his interest in a career in the sport at a young age.
“The biggest influence my dad has had in my career is allowing me to tag along with him to almost anything,” Plant said. “From Braves’ games to spring training trips and MLB winter meetings, experiencing all those things are the reason I fell in love with the game and wanted to pursue a career in it. He has also taught me so much about work ethic, discipline, treating people the right way, and I have learned so much just by watching him be so successful in his position.”
When Plant walked into Angel Stadium on his first day with the team, it wasn’t his first day working in a Major League clubhouse. Like his father, Plant also worked with the Braves from 2014 to 2020 as a bat boy, an experience Plant said was invaluable to his pursuit of a career in baseball.
During his time with Atlanta, Plant experienced a multi-season rebuild and a couple of playoff runs, ultimately resulting in a World Series win the year after he left to work with KSU.
“Getting to go to work in a Major League clubhouse and contribute to trying to win a Major League game never got old,” Plant said. “Bat boys work long hours, especially for a high school or college student, up to 90 hours a week, but I learned so much about the game of baseball and life in general. Watching the team overcome all obstacles to win a World Series and seeing what it meant to Atlanta where I was born and raised, was the greatest joy of my life.”
While Plant has worked with the Braves and is currently an Angel, he considers himself a forever Owl. He said capping his six years at KSU with a baseball conference championship provided a great send off.
“Though I am 2,000 miles away, I am still always proud to represent KSU,” Plant said. “I learned so much academically, in baseball, and about life in general during my time there.”
This article was originally published in the Spring 2023 issue of Kennesaw State University Magazine.