The Pirates have become early adopters in the market for pitching simulators that mimic the images, speed and movement of major league pitching by agreeing to a deal with ProBatter Sports. You can click here to see a demonstration of the pitching simulator with Pirates personnel, or just read how the company describes its product:
The ProBatter PX2 allows a hitter to face a DVD-quality image of a real pitcher, which is projected onto an 8×10 foot screen. The pitcher winds up (or throws from a stretch) — at the moment of release, an actual ball is fired through a small hole in the screen, delivering virtually any pitch a human being can. Synchronization is precise and the effect is extremely realistic. Hitters can be challenged by an endless array of fastballs, sinkers, cutters, curves, sliders, change-ups, etc. — at speeds up to 100 mph and variable in increments of two mph. Moreover, the pitches can be delivered with pinpoint accuracy and thrown to pre-selected locations inside and outside the strike zone.
Pirates general manager Neal Huntington and farm director Kyle Stark both came to the Pirates this year after working with the Indians, who had previously purchased the technology. The company has also sold its product to the Yankees, Red Sox and Mets.
Center fielder Jordan Schafer, the Braves’ top prospect, said he made an investment of around $90,000 three years ago to purchase one of these simulators, which he keeps in a rented warehouse in his hometown. After struggling through his first two years as a professional, Schafer hit .312/.373/.513 in 626 plate appearances last season.
Baseball America’s Josh Leventhal saw the simulator in use last year at the Winter Meetings, although he didn’t take any swings against the machine. "I’m pretty sure I was no match for the simulator," he said.