MLB offers to use PitchCom device to prevent sign theft
MLB has proposed allowing pitchers and catchers to voluntarily use the PitchCom device as part of anti-sign theft efforts. Other proposals sent to the MLBPA include banning hitters from reviewing scouting cards during batting and not letting club personnel print and provide information at dugouts during games, according to Athleticism.
PitchCom was used in Single-A games last year and is currently being tested by MLB teams in spring training games. Receivers wear PitchCom on their forearm and press buttons to select pitch type and location. The pitcher wears a transmitter in their ear to hear the recorded audio of the pitch call.
“It’s easier to call the game, not fumbling in the panels trying to think where my fingers are going while calling a pitch,” Mets catcher Hayden Senger said. “It’s just a one-button thing and you’re good.”
Up to three position players are also permitted to wear the transmitter during spring training games. “I liked it so far,” Mets second baseman Jeff McNeil said. “You can also do a lot of different things, like put mics on it.”
“This is the first thing I’ve seen for this problem [sign stealing] it’s pretty easy to use,” Mets relief pitcher Adam Ottavino told SportTechie. “It’s definitely going to be difficult to steal signs with this, I mean, there are no signs. I don’t know if this will actually speed up the game, but I thought it was a cool feature that [the catcher] could call the pitch into my helmet long before the batter was even in the box.
The Mets ran tests to see if the microphones could pick up sound from PitchCom’s transmitters, and determined it was secure. None of the buttons on the PitchCom device tested by MLB teams are numbered, allaying concerns that a batter might look at the catcher only to realize the pitch is called.
“He should be watching you and trying to figure out the pattern in real time,” Ottavino said. “Nobody can knock and do that. So it’s pretty foolproof unless you can hear it on the speakerphone.