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Infiniti Sports Performance sees 8 ballplayers taken in MLB draft

Infiniti Banner

Infiniti Sports Performance in Bellport is coming off a banner year.

And that banner hangs in the office of its owners (and brothers), Ray Babinsky and Russell Taveras. It’s about five feet long and contains photos of eight baseball players from Long Island, all of whom were chosen in the 2016 Major League Baseball draft.

All eight ballplayers had trained at Infiniti.


The full list, and degree to which the players trained in Bellport, appears below.


The list includes two first round picks by the New York Mets. It also includes Patchogue-Medford 2013 graduate Matthew Vogel, who is now 21 and getting set to enter his first spring training for the Tampa Bay Rays. Vogel was chosen in the 25th round.

“When it comes to a workout facility, or a place that trains athletes from all different sports, there’s just no comparison,” Vogel said of Infiniti Sports Performance.

“It’s just hands-down the best.”

Infiniti has also trained other known names in the baseball world, such as Medford’s Marcus Stroman of the Toronto Blue Jays and Stony Brook’s Steven Matz of the New York Mets, both pitchers.

Greaterpatchogue.com recently visited Infiniti Sports Performance to learn more.

THE BEGINNING

Infiniti Sports Performance opened in late 2004 and occupies a chunk of the All Pro Sports Academy building at 990 Station Road, just north of Sunrise Highway.

Infiniti specializes in training athletes of all ages and levels, from youth sports to the professional level, as well as helping them return to play after injury.

“We started when this industry barely existed; maybe there was one other place on Long Island doing something similar,” said Russell Taveras, a doctor of physical therapy and strength and conditioning specialist. “I had come out of physical therapy school and finished my [college] baseball career, and I wanted to mesh the training work with the rehab world. At the time no one was really doing this at the high school and college levels.”

It was actually the second serious injury to his shoulder, and a subsequent surgery, that first got him thinking about filling a void in the world of competitive athletics.

“I ended my post-surgery rehab, and they basically gave me a T-shirt and mug and said your’e done, but I had to get back to playing [Division 1] baseball,” he said. “I had to get a bucket of balls and go back to my local elementary school and teach myself how to throw again.”

He made his vision a reality with the the help of his brother, another athlete and longtime baseball coach who now lives in Brookhaven. 

Both men graduated from Lindenhurst High School.

“I had learned of something like this while in Georgia, speed training,” said Babinsky. “And it really struck me that there was a little industry for this, and then we discussed doing something.”

Together they combined physical therapy with strength and conditioning.

Infiniti took off. Word of mouth sufficed to pack out the smaller corner that Infiniti first occupied in Bellport and the brothers soon expanded.

Two years ago, they expanded again by creating a recovery room.

BEYOND BASEBALL
Infiniti Nate

Former Bellport star Nate Chavious trains at Infiniti Sports Performance this month.


Although they’re known across the island for training top baseball players, visit Infiniti on any given day and you’re liable to find locally known football, soccer or lacrosse players. 

These are faces you might recognize from Newsday’s sports coverage, whether that’s through reading game coverage or checking out the All Long Island selections.

Former Bellport star Nate Chavious, now 21, was there when we arrived.

Chavious is studying criminal justice at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn., where he’s gone All-Conference in the Northeast Conference and has been among its leaders.

“I try to get here every day when I’m home — if not every other day,” said Chavious, who’s recovering from a fracture and torn ligament suffered during the fall.

“Even with a cast, it’s hard to kick him out,” said Russell.

The list of other college and pro athletes that spent much of their off time at Infiniti included Ally Culhane, 21, of Medford, a senior lacrosse player at Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania, as well as Jimmy Mulligan, 25, also of Medford, who plays for the New York Cosmos.

“I started here n 2007, my sophomore year of high school,” said Mulligan. “I I wanted to perform at the highest level with strength and speed. I became a pro pretty much because of these guys.”

THE PHILOSOPHY

Babinsky and Taveras wouldn’t take much pride in simply pushing their young athletes to work out harder.

“Anybody can make a kid sweat; that’s the easy part,” says Taverasl. “Phycology is my first degree, and being around injured athletes a lot I spend almost every day trying to help them get their mind right and their lives headed in the right direction.”

“It’s beyond being a physical therapist or a personal trainer,” he continued. “I know these athletes inside and out and we make sure they leave here feeling great.”

Vogel said working hard is indeed part of the Infiniti experience for him as a baseball player. But so is having a great time.

“All the guys that work there are good guys; you could sit down and talk to them about anything,” he said. “It’s fun, too, because you’re working out with guys you’ve played with as kids, and you’re catching up. You’re not just sweating; you’re hanging out and laughing.”

To be sure, the ultimate goal is the same with all of their athletes: performing at the highest level — and winning.

“There’s no participation trophies here,” says Taveras.

Infiniti Group

Ally Culhane, Nate Chavious, Russell Taveras and Jimmy Mulligan at Infiniti Sports.


THE LIST
*Information provided by Ray Babinsky of Infiniti Sports Performance.

Anthony Kay – 1st RD selection NY Mets

(Ward Melville HS/University of Connecticut)

Anthony has been training with us since he was a sophomore at Ward Melville High School.

While on his way to breaking most pitching records at UCONN he worked with us during winter breaks to prepare him for the spring season. He lives in Stony Brook

Justin Dunn – 1st RD NY Mets

(Gunnery Prep School, CT)/Boston College)

Justin trained here as a 13- and 14-year-old  He lived in Freeport and later on attended a private school in Connecticut.

Greg Weissert – 18th RD NY Yankees

(Bay Shore High School/Fordham University)

We started working with Greg months before his final season at Fordham, and he returned here this fall/winter to prepare for his 2nd season with Yankee organization.

Matt Vogel – 25th RD Tampa Bay Rays

(Patchogue-Medford High School/ University of South Carolina)

Matt started training with us during his high school career with Patchogue-Medford. You will find him in our facility every time he’s home from school or playing professional baseball.

Daniel Bakst – 27th RD Baltimore Orioles

(Poly Prep HS)

Daniel is a Manhattan resident whose family summered on the East Dnd of Long Island.

We saw him periodically over a few summers.

Mike OReilly- 27th RD St. Louis Cardinals

(Shoreham-Wading River High School/Flagler College)

Mike has been training with us since he was an 8th grader. He just left last week for his 2nd season of pro ball.

Matt Crohan- 32nd RD Cincinnati Reds

(Riverhead High School/Winthrop Unversity)

Matt started with us his junior year of high school and is another mainstay at Infiniti. He turned down the Reds to return for his final year at Winthrop. He is hopeful to be drafted again this year.

Tyler Honahan – 36th RD NY Yankees (Legend H.S. in Colorado/Stony Brook Univ.)

Tyler attended high school in Colorado, but attended Stony Brook University.

He started with us after his junior year there. He has been a regular here with us ever since.  Coincidentally, he was Greg Weisserts teammate at Rookie A-Ball with the Pulaski Yankees last year.

About the author: Michael White

Michael White is a Bellport resident, longtime newspaper reporter and editor, and the owner of greaterpatchogue.com. Email him your story ideas or tips: mike@greaterpatchogue.com