Major League Baseball is going to start testing the use of an electronic device that would allow catchers to communicate with pitchers in hopes to speed up the games and suppress sign stealing.
The transmitter will be worn by the catcher in a wristband and a receiver in the padding of the catchers helmet and a receiver in the sweatband of the pitcher’s cap. There are nine buttons on the transmitter to signal the desired pitch and location and has prerecorded audio tracks in English and Spanish, and teams can record their own tracks for it.
The equipment will start being used in the Cal League (Low-A West) on August 3rd for the next eight weeks.
This is one of many experiments being conducted this season in the minor leagues to increase action and shorten the length of games. Other experiments include increasing the size of bases, banning defensive shifts, restricting a pitcher’s ability to step off the rubber, pushing the pitching mound back a foot, implementing an automated ball-strike system and installing a 15-second pitch clock.
The system from PitchCom was used by a handful of Cactus League teams in spring training and feedback was “extremely positive.” Hacking the system, the company says, is virtually impossible. PitchCom uses an industrial grade encryption algorithm and transmits minimal data digitally, making it mathematically impossible for someone to decrypt intercepted transmissions, according to the company.
Some of the rules governing in-game use:
- Players found to be wearing a receiver while batting will be ejected.
- Only the active catcher, and no other players or coaches, is allowed to use the transmitter.
- A backup transmitter is provided, but it must remain in the carrying case during games.
- If players and coaches need to confer because of an issue with the device, they can notify the umpires and not be charged a mound visit.