June 26, 2022



What is PitchCom and how MLB will use it to stop sign-stealing

2 min read

Major League Baseball is going to allow players to wear a new piece of technology that will help catchers relay signs to pitchers and possibly eliminate sign-stealing from the game, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney. The technology is called PitchCom and was tested in the Class A California League last season and has drawn rave reviews from teams who have tried it out during spring training.

Here’s how it works: Catchers can put a PitchCom transmitter on their forearm, which makes it look just like a wristband. The black transmitter has nine buttons on it that catchers press to let the pitcher know the pitch he’s calling and the location. On the mound, pitchers have a six-inch rubber receiver inside their hats that communicate the pitch call with a computerized voice – either in Spanish or English – that will tell the pitcher, for instance, “fastball up” or “curveball, down and in.” The catchers also will have the audio device in their helmets, so they can be sure they’ve sent the right signal to their teammate.

Three other players besides the pitcher and catcher also can wear the device inside their hats, so they’ll know the pitch and can adjust their positioning accordingly. Most often, those players would be the second baseman, shortstop and center fielder.

During a spring training game over the weekend, Yankees manager Aaron Boone said his players had been experimenting with the technology and all really liked it.

Teams still will be allowed to relay signs the old-fashioned way, and no one is required to wear the PitchCom system, but it seems likely most teams will adopt the new system.

Sign-stealing has been around as long as the sport of baseball itself, but it has really been in the spotlight the past five years since the Red Sox and Yankees were reprimanded for using technology to steal signs in 2017, and then the Astros were caught using an elaborate system that involved banging on a trash can to relay signs to hitters.

Aside from halting cheating, the technology could help improve the pace of the game, eliminating some of the mound meetings when players would congregate to switch up the signals with a runner on second base.

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