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Video system raises batting averages

MLB teams like the Boston Red Sox, New York’s Mets and Yankees, as well as the Cleveland Indians, are using a new video system to improve batting averages. The ProBatter Sports system combines taped video images of current pitchers with standard pitching machine technology to provide players, managers and coaches with an extra edge.

The Indians purchased the company’s ProBatter pitching simulator five years ago and since then has finished first seven times and second twice in the American League Central division. The Indians won their division this year, beat the Yankees in the first round of the ALCS playoffs and then lost to the eventual 2007 World Series Champion Red Sox in the American League championship series. The club has installed a permanent system at its Jacobs Field home stadium last season and purchased another dedicated unit for its AA team in Akron, OH, earlier this year. The team’s AAA affiliate in Buffalo uses a portable ProBatter system.

ProBatter simulators, such as its new PX2, employ technology to replicate the experience of facing a live pitcher. The simulator projects a DVD-quality image of a real pitcher onto an 8ft by 10ft screen. The hitter watches as 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 person can.

Hitters can be challenged by a variety of pitches at speeds of up to 100mph in variable increments of 2mph. The pitches can also be delivered with pinpoint accuracy and thrown to preselected locations inside and outside the strike zone.

Known as one of the most technologically advanced teams in MLB, the Indians in recent years have employed an ocular eye trainer and a video recording/cataloging system designed to capture every hitter’s at-bat. In June, the team became the first in the majors to go solar.

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