While Rapsodo can’t take any credit for the impressive right arm of the 6-foot-4 Nick Bitsko, the company was able to showcase the Pennsylvania high schooler’s videos and data to help lead the Rays to select the little-seen talent with the 24th overall pick in the 2020 draft.
“This is something kids can be showcased on,” said Seth Daniels, Rapsodo director of diamond sports. “Guys like Nick Bitsko, with videos of him training in Pennsylvania and chucking 97 miles per hour and then getting a contract, it shows the power of this virtual showcase.”
Rapsodo, known for a decade for its hardware that tracks metrics in pitching and hitting, has bolstered its software and backed up its data by launching a certified program so that, as Daniels says “Rapsodo is recruiting.”
To prove to scouts and recruiters that the players are who they say they are in the Rapsodo system, the certified program has now stretched to about 75 physical facilities located across the country with staff who have trained through a Rapsodo certification course to help run a bullpen or batting session. This allows athletes to come into the facility and perform during a certified session. When a player goes through one of these sessions, they not only earn a score in the national database that ranks them with peers across the country based on age, but they also receive data through video. It essentially gives a blue checkmark of reliability to the data and video.
“When you have just video or just data, there are still questions,” Daniels said. “Video can be a little deceiving, and just seeing data alone leaves questions. When you see them together with data overlaid on top of video, whether in a game or bullpen, it does answer some questions.”
With the Rapsodo hardware also available at academy fields and ballparks across the country, Daniels said entire spring and summer leagues that were closed to spectators opened to recruiters and scouts through the Rapsodo platform.
Now that Rapsodo has its national database and rankings, the company is continuing to encourage athletes to engage in a certified session.
“A coach can look at the data and know this was collected at a place I can trust, and the data is valid, and video goes along with it,” Daniels said.
Rapsodo hopes to expand to more than 100 facilities by the end of the year. The system is also being used in showcase tournaments, leagues and academies.
“These are handpicked as places we have been doing business with and have people who are well trained,” Daniels said. “They have to apply and have their staff be trained and Rapsodo certified. They know the data and know how it works and know how to run a scripted session.”
Both the pitching and hitting are gaining traction in Rapsodo—pitching is slightly more popular in the system, with about a 60-40 split—and both disciplines offer quantifiable metrics with in-game performance numbers that provide a “good understanding of how this person is performing and going to be performing.”
While Rapsodo is seeing the most interest in the national database and certified program from high school athletes, especially those looking to take the step into professional baseball, Daniels said there remains a growing interest from the youth market. Academies, he said, can use the data to see who should be on which travel ball team or even to help a young player learn pitch repertoire and understand where their strengths and weaknesses lie.
“It is not all about college recruiting,” Daniels said about earning a Rapsodo score, “it shows where you stand against others. It is a nice baseline to offer.”