With the regular season now underway for the Major Leagues, anyone who didn’t make the teams initial 30-man opening day roster is playing over at the alternate training site. For the Cincinnati Reds that is Prasco Park. Unlike the big league ballparks that are open to the media in limited capacity and for limited amounts of time by normal standards, the alternate sites are off limits to any media at all times. That means it’s tough, almost impossible (short of flying a drone overhead, which I will not be doing) of getting eyes on what’s happening here.
Before the season began there were still practices happening every day, but between the big league club and the Prasco Park crew – they could play intrasquad games. That’s no longer the case. Currently the Prasco Park roster barely has enough position players to field a team, and someone would have to be playing out of their normal position to do so. There are ten position players on the roster, including three catchers and two outfielders. There are 13 pitchers on that roster – so there’s enough pitching to throw to hitters every day for some live batting practice/simulated game type situations, which I’m told will be happening as one of the ways the players will be working out to give them game-like situations and experience to keep them ready to help at the big league level if and when needed.
In 2020, even at the non-Major League level, technology is at the forefront of analysis of what’s happening on the field. While it certainly is happening more with pitchers, where we track spin rate, release angle, the angle of the spin on the ball, the break, the velocity, the biomechanics, etc – there are things that are used to track some of the stuff hitters are doing, too. Even something as simple as we’ve seen with Trackman measuring exit velocity and travel of the ball – that can help a little bit. Both hitters and pitchers can be recorded with Edgertronic cameras to get ultra slow-motion feedback for mechanics.
I reached out to someone within the organization to ask about the technology that was in use at Prasco Park. Teams were thrown into a situation where they didn’t exactly have time or probably resources to go full out and get everything installed that a Major League stadium would have. With that said, there are things that are portable-ish today that weren’t a handful of years ago that help out. Rapsodo’s can be placed on the field in non-game environments – which means all day at Prasco Park if they choose, there are smaller versions of Trackman that you can set up behind the batting cage that can handle some of that stuff.
The person in the organization I spoke with wasn’t willing to go into specific details about the technology set up that they did have there, but told me that they were able to get “a lot of the tools in place that we have at GABP” and that the organization “is confident that the alternate site coaching, health and performance staff has all of the tools they need to provide the information, coaching, and treatment required. The capabilities at Prasco are on par with what we have available in Goodyear and in a lot of ways great than what we have available to us at our minor league affiliates.”
So what are some of the things that are in the minor league facilities? Well, at least as far as tech goes – every stadium has Trackman set up. At least two of the stadiums in 2019 had fielder/base runner tracking cameras set up and in use. Every facility/team had their own guy to set up cameras each day for both pre-game practices/bullpen sessions, as well as for the game to record at-bats/BP/bullpen sessions/live game action from CF of the hitter/batter match up, and then the open side angles on every hitter. All of that stuff is then put into a system for the team and players to be able to go back and review/breakdown, and that video includes the tech data, too. There were at least some Edgertronic high speed cameras at the ballparks during the season, but I’m not sure if every park had them or not – they were on backorder for quite a while and supplies were very limited for parts of 2019.
Without being able to put eyes on things myself, I’m certainly taking my source at his word on this. But with where things are at today, many of the things could have been simply transported from wherever they were supposed to be in April for a minor league season, and put in place at Prasco. They probably didn’t have a full-size Trackman unit installed like they have at the minor league parks, but they may not need one anymore, either, with smaller units capable of doing the same thing that are portable – and with no worries about fans or “game play”, they can be used on the field during the “practices” to gather the data.
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