The Big Idea: SmartKages for baseball

- In the quiet Hamlet of Mahopac one person takes swings in an otherwise quiet facility while another throws pitches alone.

There are no major league scouts watching but with each motion, their performances reach across the country.

It is a revolution of sorts taking place at 4D Sports Performance Center due to technology called SmartKage.  Former major league pitcher Anthony Yacco calls it the ultimate reality check.

"If someone did walk into the facility, for example, a 16 years old and lights up 95 on a radar gun it will set off red flags because not many of those out there," owner Yacco says.

Using a combination of sensors, from lasers to cameras to radar, all players are tested by a universal standard.  Numbers can all be compared.  Basic speed, for instance, is measured precisely with lasers.  Range of motion is calculated in both directions.

Other things we might not think of are measured, from timing return throw, the speed of weight transfer from the back foot to the front foot while batting.

Pitchers are asked to throw different pitches and all of the stats go immediately into a national database that can be accessed in real time.

In the long haul, skills have to be taught outside the cage.  But now, coaches can reach minor league teams and college and speak about a player's definitive metrics... without favoritism.

Players like Willie Gabay, a minor league pitcher with the Yankees, gets to measure his own progress, even in the off-season.

Before this technology, if you wanted your kid seen, you'd have to live in a good baseball town or have the time and money to travel to tournaments for them to be noticed.  With this, anywhere in the country, a player can be measured the same way.

"Most players are getting recruited from the south because they can play all year long.  This helps people in the northeast.  This is an opportunity for them to put up their numbers against those playing down there," Yacco says.

There are about 160 SmartKage systems going up nationwide this year.

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