PitchCom voice powers pitch calls to MLB pitchers this spring

The PitchCom electronic pitch calling device is tested in spring training games and practices by MLB teams. The device is intended to prevent backboard theft and improve the pace of play. Clubs using PitchCom this spring include the Tampa Bay Rays, Kansas City Royals, Colorado Rockies and New York Mets.

The minor leaguers tested PitchCom in Single-A games last summer, but Saturday’s exhibition between the Rays and Atlanta Braves was the first game to see PitchCom used by the major leagues. Rays receiver Mike Zunino wore the PitchCom transmitter on his left forearm and pressed one of its buttons to signal the type of pitch to Rays pitcher Phoenix Sanders, who wore a rubbery six-inch receiver long inside his cap to hear a pre-recorded. voice tell him the pitch call.

“It’s something that really intrigues me, and I hope it picks up momentum,” Zunino told MLB.com. “It’s something that will really rock the game, I think.” Second baseman Brandon Lowe also wore the audio receiver inside his cap to adjust the Rays’ defensive positioning based on field selection.

By holding down a button, Zunino was able to communicate not only the type of terrain, but also the desired location. Sanders shook off Zunino’s field calls a few times, which meant Zunino just had to press another button. The device is especially handy when an opposing runner is at second base and pitchers and catchers don’t have to worry about hand signals picked up by the runner.

“It was very easy to use,” Sanders said. “There were no hiccups or anything with it, so I’d definitely be willing to use it in a match. It’s almost like their version of Siri or Alexa just tells you how high to throw.

An MLB official says PitchCom could potentially be approved to play as early as this season, according to Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci. NCAA baseball teams such as Vanderbilt are already using another pitch calling device this season called Game Day Signals, where signals are sent to all nine players on the field via a code on an electronic wristband. The Reds, Pirates and Dodgers are also testing Game Day Signals in intrasquad practices and scrums this spring.

“I hate technology that takes away something that someone worked really hard for. But the way the game is going and where we are at the moment, it makes sense to me,” the Royals manager said. Mike Matheny at MLB.com.

Neal T. Doss