Written by DrShorebird
I took a break from the Orioles for a while and ventured over to Twin Lakes to see how the Orioles Minors were coming along. It was great to see the players, but what drew my attention was that they were using the Trackman system. Golfers may long be familiar with the Trackman, but it is fairly new for baseball – especially pitching. The Trackman Baseball system made its public debut at the 2009 All-Star home run derby in St. Louis. The Trackman system is a portable Doppler radar system already used to track ball trajectories and spin.
Director of Minor League Operations, Kent Qualls, explained that it makes 48,000 measurements per second and precisely measures the location, spin, angles, velocity and trajectory of a ball in flight. We can learn about 20 things about a pitch from it. It not only tells us the velocity at the release point, but the end results of pitches and why those results happened. It measures the 3D Release slot (height, side, distance from home), speed at release, release angle, spin rate, spin axis, movement (horizontal break, vertical break), angles (horizontal, vertical), time of pitch flight, speed at plate and things we haven’t learned how to use yet.
The device has shown that a high rate of spin in the right direction leads to a lot of missed swings. Now both spin rate and spin direction can be monitored. Analysis has also shown low launch angles on curveballs lead to more swing and misses.
In the past, when funds for Minor League development were harder to come by, I used to complain to Andy MacPhail about the lack of technology uses in the minor leagues. It wasn’t too long ago that players at Delmarva did not even have tapes of their pitching or hitting. Andy would brush off my comments with a “Well I see a lot of golf gadget for sale, but there aren’t a whole lot more golfers breaking par.”
Please note the photos of the Trackman in use at Twin Lakes. Also, please see photos of No. 1 Draft Selection, Hunter Harvey at Twin Lakes on Sunday. We plan to sit down for a chat later this week for Hangout readers.
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