Rookie League Player Familiarity with Advanced Metrics

Allan Bekerman is a Rapsodo content contributor and previously a data analytics intern for the company. He has held various roles in and around baseball, including being a Baseball Operations Video Associate with a Minor League Affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Allan is now a Minor League Video/Technology Intern with the Washington Nationals.

Being at the Rookie Advanced level, many of the players with our club were getting their first real taste of professional baseball. Some were in their second, sometimes third, year of professional ball, but many were in their first pro season. 

Some players had gone to college in the states, while others were spending their first or second year in a foreign country to them – still adjusting to life in the states and the pro-ball lifestyle. Considering the differing backgrounds up and down the roster, it was no surprise that everyone had varying levels of familiarity and comfortability in regard to many of the newer metrics that have taken baseball by storm over the past few years. 

For some, this was one of their first experiences using technology like Rapsodo or Edgertronic.  Many had the chance to use this type of tech while at the team’s minor league headquarters in Arizona during Spring Training and Extended Spring Training. For others, who may have been drafted this past June, had used this type of technology on a consistent basis and were fairly familiar with the varying topics – even if they weren’t quite experts. 

Ultimately, the players understood that these types of technology were expansive throughout professional baseball and simply were there to help them develop into better professional players with the goal of one day making it to the big leagues. 

Early on in the season, our affiliate’s Development Coach sat down with the pitching staff and gave an intro to the types of data and metrics that Rapsodo collects and how it would be relevant to them and their careers. The coach developed a buddy system for players to throw their side sessions and bullpens when using Rapsodo. 

The goal being getting players more familiar with this type of data and allowing them to discuss amongst themselves what the numbers meant. They would also be able to discuss how to potentially improve moving forward. Both him, myself, and the pitching coach were always available to help interpret any data they weren’t clear on. 

Relatively quickly, players seemed eager to look at the results of their bullpen sessions. They didn’t hesitate to ask questions about what the numbers might mean and what that meant for their overall pitch mix. They were curious on how they could use that information to their advantage going forward. 

Every player is different. Some would want as many numbers as they could get, others not so much. Finding player comparisons at the MLB level with similar pitch characteristics was often useful for identifying zones to locate and sequence pitches. 

Throughout the season, Rapsodo would be used on a daily basis during bullpen sessions leading up to that night’s game. Players weren’t required to throw on the mound that had the Rapsodo set up, but more often than not, players would form a line waiting to get in front of the Rapsodo. This allowed them to look over the data from that day’s work and see what kind of progress they were making on whatever particular aspect of their game they were working on that day. 

Some players working on a specific pitch would throw one, ask for the data feedback, and make adjustments accordingly until they were able to consistently execute the pitch to their satisfaction. The ability to have real-time feedback for both the staff and players alike was tremendous in being able to help dictate how to proceed further, allowing all parties to use more than just the eye test when being evaluated.

Technology is now being used at all levels – from rookie ball to all 30 MLB teams. While it might be an adjustment for athletes who have not used much technology in the past, it is instrumental for their future to start working with it now.