Sensors on Riko van der Mey’s body, hands and bat measure his swing speed, swing launch angle and even the ball’s velocity. HarbourCats’ Curtis Pelletier is implementing the technology for the Victoria HarbourCats this year and also makes it available to local youth, ages 9 to 18, in the HarbourCats Players’ Club. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)

Bat speed, exit velocity and spin rates, how the HarbourCats swing big on technology

Players’ Club offers youth access to cutting-edge big league software

With a sensor attached firmly to his hand, his back and on the end of his bat, Riko van der Mey swings through a baseball on a rainy morning at Royal Athletic Park.

“Bat speed, 32 miles per hour,” says Curtis Pelletier, director of player development for the Victoria HarbourCats.

Van der Mey isn’t a HarbourCat but he did play college ball. His first swing was just a warm up and his next swing is twice as fast. The sensors he’s wearing – some from K Motion – sends a variety of advanced data to the Ipad Pelletier has set up on a tripod. It’s part of a technology revolution that’s fast becoming a development tool in baseball.

In addition to K-Motion, other technologies used are Blast Motion Bat sensors, Rapsodo for Pitch flight analysis, and OnBaseU to understand the body-baseball connection. Local company Tesseract 2.0 brought the program to life by supplying the hardware needed to use this technology, Pelletier said.

READ MORE: HarbourCats to give away funeral to another lucky fan

In particular, the testing can identify if a player’s mechanics could be creating more power in their swing. Sometimes it’s up to 20 per cent. It can even track exit velocity, a popular stat that shows fans of the MLB how fast their favourite power hitters are cranking the ball back into the field.

“It’s a lot of information that will give the HarbourCats players an idea of where they are at,” Pelletier said. “But with youth, we can use the data as a resource for development.”

This is the first season the equipment will be used to test every HarbourCats player. It’s already in use for 21 members of the HarbourCats Players’ Club, a development program for kids 9 to 18 that was launched in the fall. The program is full at 21 players but Pelletier hopes to bump up the numbers for the next intake.

“You’re hearing teenage kids talk about bat speed, launch angles and exit velocity [how fast the ball is hit off the bat] but that doesn’t mean much,” Pelletier said. “Launch angles have always been around. It’s about using the data to develop a good swing with attack angles that create the [successful] launch angles.”

Ultimately, the goal is to develop proper muscle memory, Pelletier said. Ideally, you can get a kid in when they’re 10, 11, 12 years old, early in their muscel memory development.

“It’s not something we do every day. This doesn’t replace their coach. I’m not their coach. It’s a resource of data that the players can use to guide their training.”

Once a player is tested they’re given a specific drill package suited specifically to them. They go off an train for a couple weks, and then come back to see where they’re at.

“With the HarbourCats, these are premier athletes coming to us with a muscle memory that’s set,” Pelletier said. “We’re not changing their swing, just providing them feedback. We’ll give them their spin rates, exit velocity and launch angles. But we’re not telling guys to change their swing, we’re just saying, ‘Hey, it looks like you’ve got a lot more in you.’”

travis.paterson@oakbaynews.com


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

VIDEO: James Bay wolf released into wild of western Vancouver Island

Conservation officers confirm wolf is from Discovery Island

Victoria shops avoid plastic bags, despite bylaw being voided

The city is working on getting the bylaw re-established

Traffic delays: Saturday work added to Highway 1 construction schedule

Work continues on dangerous stretch between Leigh Road and West Shore Parkway

Helicopter crash claims legendary baseball coach who sent players to Victoria HarbourCats

HarbourCats manager had met John Altobelli, 56, during recruitment trip in California

Supreme Court bans Victoria man from practising law

Jeremy Maddock received a law degree in 2016 but never completed articling

VIDEO: Driver guilty in Saanich crash that left 11-year-old with catastrophic brain injuries

North Saanich woman convicted on one count of dangerous driving causing bodily harm

First-place Canucks beat Blues 3-1 for ninth straight home win

Miller nets pair as Vancouver defeats Cup champs

Swapping grape varieties can help winemakers adapt to climate change: UBC study

Report says 56% of wine-grape-growing regions would be lost if global climate warms by 2 C

Alberta premier wants feds to approve Teck mine for benefit of First Nations

Kenney: ‘Surely [reconciliation] means saying yes to economic development for First Nations people’

Filming for Resident Alien begins in Ladysmith

Aliens and excitement take over the streets of Ladysmith during new TV series

NDP suggests easing secondary housing rules for B.C. farmland

Lana Popham proposes guest homes not just for relatives

After four sexual assaults in the same B.C. park, RCMP ask women not to walk alone

Four sexual assaults took place in Glen Park over two months

Most Read