Father-Son Baseball Duo Launches Seam Reader Book, App
Former professional baseball player Dennis Tiefenthaler and his son, Jared Tiefenthaler, want to know: Are you a seam reader hitter or a guess hitter? To support those choosing reading seams, the duo released a book in February discussing the differences and benefits and in April launched an app to help both educate and improve the art of seam reading.
“Right now, there are so many analytics in baseball, from spin rate to launch angle,” says Jared Tiefenthaler. “If a hitter is a seam reader, certain stats matter, you care about the RPMs of the pitch and different rotations. We think it is a simple stat for parents to care about, are you a seam reader, yes or no? There is nothing wrong with being a guess hitter, lots of guys do it, playing the odds, but it is nice as a parent or as a coach to know what guys are reading pitches rather than guessing.”
Joe Maddon, a former World Series champion and current manager of the Angels, who coached Dennis Tiefenthaler, knows the importance of reading seams. “You are better reading seams than you are guessing what pitch is coming next,” Maddon says. “Guessing is a way to hit, but you are just playing the odds. Reading seams gives you a better chance to succeed.”
The launch of the book, something Dennis Tiefenthaler had been working on since 2012, explains and names the skill. The app, then, gives an opportunity for players to learn about spin and see the different “signature faces” of a pitch to study them. From there, users of the free app can go into a batting cage mode to see pitches and even a career mode where they must recognize the pitch within time constraints.
The career mode includes five levels — Little League, high school, college, minors and majors — and the time allowed to recognize a pitch coincides with the average time a player at that level has to discern a pitch, about .6 of a second for Little League and .4 of a second for fastballs in Major League Baseball. In this mode, five hits without striking out advances you to the next level and once players reach the majors, they compete to see who can get the most hits in a row without striking out.
The record? 2019 first-round draft pick Josh Jung holds that with 236 consecutive hits in the Seam Reader app. “I thought I was the best,” says Jared Tiefenthaler, “and my high score is 35.” Jung is now in the Texas Rangers organization.
The father-son duo will continue to upgrade the app, adding in a player vs. player mode on May 4 that Jared Tiefenthaler says is akin to a chess game. There will also be a season pass debuting May 25 with real prizes to be won.
While the focus remains on the Seam Reader app, Jared Tiefenthaler says they are also in talks with various Major League Baseball stadiums to create a fan interaction game for in-venue video boards.
Initially, the Seam Reader app was geared toward kids ages 10 through 13 to help them learn and begin to innately discern different types of pitches, but Jared Tiefenthaler says they’ve seen a popularity with high school and college players, and even Jung, all looking to keep their skills sharp, especially during this time of no live sports.
Tim Newcomb covers gear and business for Baseball America. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.