Swinging for Wins: The success story behind Swing Kings

David Espinosa, a former first-round pick in the 2000 Major League Baseball draft, has found himself back in the baseball business, this time with batting cages.

After playing professionally for 15 years, Espinosa transitioned into becoming a talent evaluator/scout both domestically and internationally for the Cincinnati Reds and Miami Marlins. 

However, an interesting turn of events led Espinosa and his family into the batting cage business.

“It all started when we were driving through Tamiami Park and noticed the batting cages in terrible condition. We even wondered if they were still in business, and we confirmed they were, but the business location was in severe disrepair,” he said. 

“We knew it was a county facility, so it prompted us to send an unsolicited proposal to Miami Dade Parks and Recreation. A few weeks later, we received a response. We eventually received a permit to run the operation, which we started in February of 2022.”

Taking on Swing Kings full time aligned with Espinosa’s design to be closer to family. 

“The Reds job, in particular, was a year-round travel job, and it came at a time when our boys were very young,’’ he said. “I felt like I was missing a lot of things at home and really wanted to be with my family full-time. The batting cage has allowed me to work with my wife and my business partner as well as a cool place for our young boys.”

Just as when he was a scout for a couple of MLB teams, Espinosa saw the place’s potential and brought it to fruition. 

“I envisioned this as a place that everyone in the community would love again. This batting cage was a thriving business in the late 1990s and well into the 2000s, but the facility was just dilapidated,” he said. 

“We were convinced that if we renovated the facility and used the power of social media, people would come back, and they have.”

Still, Espinosa confronted some changeups in reviving the business. 

“The biggest challenge was the enormous renovation we had to achieve once we took over,” he said.

Hurricane Irma damaged the facility in 2017, and he had to make the necessary changes in order for it to thrive.

“The damage was never repaired, so we had to replace the missing awnings, repair the netting, replace the lighting, provide new balls for the machines, and repair the roof that covers all of the machines,” Espinosa said.

“Now, we are proud to say that Swing Kings has been upgraded with professional padded turf, new 42 gauge netting, L-screens, batting tees, LED lights, brand new awnings and roof, and renovated/recalibrated pitching machines.”

Overview of the batting cages at Swing Kings. Photo Courtesy of Swing Kings

David’s wife, Cristin Espinosa, has been very involved in the business. She said the business had to work to recapture customer trust.

“We are known as a hands-on family business that really values our customers,’’ Cristrin Espinosa said. “We are proud to know our customers on a personal level and have created a safe, warm, clean, and welcoming environment.”

“When we took over, we envisioned that our biggest business drivers would be serious baseball/softball players hoping to go pro, especially since Miami is a mecca for top talent in this realm,’’ Cristin Espinosa said. “But it turns out that our biggest business drivers are customers who want to hit balls for leisure – and from all ages.”

Ervin Sanchez, also known as “Chico,” has been working at the facility for over a decade and was previously employed by the previous regime (known as Sluggers). He now helps David Espinosa run Swing Kings as the facility manager.

“It’s more professional working with him,” Sanchez said. “If we have a problem with one of the machines, I’ll call him, and he will automatically fix the problem.”

The Espinosa family has plans for more upgrades. 

“For example, our 90 mph cage became the most popular machine,’’ David Espinosa said. “But customers did not love having to wait in line to use it, so we provided another one.”

Swing Kings will soon incorporate Hit Traxx, a data tracking system, into the facility, he said. 

“Hit Traxx is, in simplest terms, a baseball version of Top Golf, where you can play games and see data on ball flight, exit velocity, distance, etc.”

Jordan Lopez is a Cuban-American digital journalism student who intends to pursue a career as a sports journalist and writer, combining his passions for sports and writing. Lopez currently writes for FanSided’s Predominantly Orange (Denver Broncos) and VerdictMMA (UFC). He hopes his writing informs fans and South Florida residents about their favorite sports teams.