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PitchAI – A Scout’s best friend

Every year, scouts descend on high school and college stadiums, and try to project how these athletes will turn into elite talent at the major league level. Bringing in technologies like TrackMan and Rapsodo are allowing scouts to get more and more information on these pitchers, including their velocity and spin rates. This makes for easy comparison against major leaguers – but it leaves out a very important piece of the question – how did the pitcher move to produce that velocity?

Our friends at Prep Baseball Report have been building a database of pitcher biomechanics using PitchAI at their events across North America. This makes it quite a bit easier to start understanding how a pitcher is performing, and how they may develop over time to produce higher velocities and better results at different levels of competition.

Recently, Baseball America posted a video of one of the top college arms, Tommy Mace from the University of Florida, throwing at Kinetic Pro’s facility in Tampa Florida. The PitchAI analysis is on full display here – and immediately, commenters started to notice the similarity between Mace’s delivery and New York Yankee’s starter (and highest paid pitcher in baseball) Gerrit Cole.

Instagram post from Baseball America featuring Tommy Mace, and his pitching mechanics captured in PitchAI at the Kinetic Pro facility in Tampa –

Using PitchAI – these comparisons can be made a lot more accurately than ever before. Using an Instagram slow motion video posted of Gerrit Cole, as well as iPhone video from Tommy Mace’s bullpen thrown at Kinetic Pro, we’re able to get a very accurate comparison of just how similar these two produce their high velocity fastballs.

University of Florida RHP Tommy Mace

New York Yankees RHP Gerrit Cole

Using the PitchAI Compare feature, you can really dive into the similarities (and differences) of these two hard throwers. Nearly identical arm speeds, efficiency (Torque to Speed ratio), deceptiveness, and arm paths get highlighted in PitchAI – and you can check out the report here.

Comparing the mechanics for Tommy Mace with Gerrit Cole – a sample of how the skeleton animation allows us to graphically view the differences, as long as compare metrics for these elite arms.

What are some of the differences, and how can we see them using PitchAI? For one, Gerrit Cole does get more hip to shoulder separation – something Mace would actively be working on to increase his velocity (and Cole does have a slight advantage in velocity – where he is regularly hitting 100 mph). In this report, you can see that both of these pitchers are falling in that dark blue range of the graph (indicating they are in the top third of all pitchers in our database – so this isn’t really a flaw for Mace, but just something that Cole has a bit more of).

Gerrit Cole and Tommy Mace’s hip to shoulder separation numbers – a key metric when considering the velocity a pitcher can throw at.

You can also see that Cole has slightly higher internal rotation velocity numbers in his kinematic sequence, eclipsing Mace by about 200 degrees per second. Once again, both pitchers are falling into an elite range – but, when you’re talking about the best of the best, these things all matter.

Peak internal rotation velocities of the throwing arm between Gerrit Cole (Blue) and Tommy Mace (in red).

Scouting reports will generally include comparisons at the Major League level – making it easier to identify the tools a player has before he enters the minor league system. Using PitchAI, comparing mechanics is easier than ever.