CB’s 2023 Best Of Show Winners Announced 0

By LOU PAVLOVICH, JR.
Editor/Collegiate Baseball

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Ten innovative products at the recent American Baseball Coaches Association Convention trade show were awarded Best of Show certificates by Collegiate Baseball.

Now in its 24th year, the Best of Show awards encompass a wide variety of concepts and applications that are new to baseball.

The committee closely examined each of the 58 nominations that were submitted.

A number of superb inventions just missed being named winners as 348 exhibitors showed their merchandise at the 2023 ABCA Convention in two exhibit halls that were larger in square footage than four football fields.

Here are the winners, chosen by Collegiate Baseball’s Best of Show selection committee.

SmartMitt
Perry Husband is the father of Effective Velocity which is the study of what batters actually see when they react to pitches.

A 90 mph fastball is perceived to be much faster when it is high and inside compared to being low and outside to the hitter.

Over the years, he has written books on the subject on how to implement Effective Velocity.

Major League teams as well NCAA Div. I baseball and softball teams have utilized his seminole work on Effective Velocity to win World Championships and national championships.

Husband has teamed up with SmartMitt to come up with the only fully licensed Effective Velocity pitch arsenal design tool.

Most tech focuses on just characteristics of individual pitches.

While SmartMitt does that, it also utilizes multiple facets that other tech tools have overlooked. It measures spin data, movement, command, Effective Velocity tunnel deception rating, Effective Velocity MPH speed differentials and many other pitch data metrics.

By utilizing video cameras behind right and left handed batters for maximum tunnel design along with special computer software, data and video shows users the entire arsenal to maximize deception and effectiveness to destroy the reaction and timing of both lefthanded and righthanded hitters.

Video in this fashion shows the pitcher how their pitch arsenal looks to lefthanded batters and righthanded batters to maximize their deception to both.

The reality is that most pitchers are effective against either a righthanded or lefthanded batter, but not both.

SmartMitt is designed so pitchers can learn to tap into their arsenal of pitches to be effective with either type of hitter.

The Interactive Features of SmartMitt give a rating on Pitch Sequencing based on effective velocity science.

Biola University did a third party independent study of Effective Velocity MPH that clearly showed how all hard contact happens by hitters.

This sequencing rating system is based on every pitch’s risk of being hit hard.

To measure command, you must use a target to measure from. SmartMitt measures the miss and creates heat maps to show miss tendencies which help pitchers learn to command all pitch types better.

The pro model is listed at $9,600.

For more information, visit: www.SmartMitt.com      

Clutch Factor
Every coach in the world wants to know who their clutch players are in high pressure situations with everything on the line.

It doesn’t matter what sport.

All too often, a gifted athlete will crumble under pressure like a fragile teacup.

Nobody to our knowledge has ever come up with a test to determine the clutch factor of players until now.

Clutch Factor is a situational analytics company in Toronto, Canada that can accurately quantify clutch characteristics in athletes to a validated score that is both predictive of overall performance and player performance in high leverage situations.

Coaches can use the predictive nature of Clutch Factor scoring to take away subjective decision making out rosters and eliminate the “gut feeling.”

Scores from Clutch Factor also provide the first accurate quantification of mental skills in athletes, allowing the ability for players to be ranked on their skillset outside of physical tangibles.

It also provides players and coaches an established baseline of skills that can be used in a player development setting to see improvement over time when retesting occurs.

The assessment was created by Clutch Factor’s team of PhD industrial psychologists and statisticians led by Dr. Ed Levine, professor Emeritus of the I/O Psychology program at the University of South Florida.

The creation of the Clutch Factor Assessment took over three years to finalize through rigorous testing, data collection and validation practices.

Clutch Factor also has a recruitment assessment or current roster insights’ package for coaches. Each assessment takes between 2-30 minutes for each athlete to compete.

The scores/reports are turned around within 2-3 days afterwards.

Pricing varies on a sliding scale from $225-280 per assessment sold.

They were offering ABCA Convention collegiate attendees a complimentary current roster insights package (testing of your whole collegiate roster) to those who purchase 20-plus recruitment assessments.

Complete documentation gives an understanding of Clutch Factor scores in the different assessment sections.

For more information, visit: www.clutch-factor.com/   

GameSense 2.0
Dr. Peter Fadde is the world’s leading expert on video-occlusion training.

GameSense was invented so hitters could practice recognizing pitches on a computer or cell phone thousands of times to become more visually locked in without adding on-field time.

Swing decisions and swing adjustments are improved dramatically which leads to more hard hit balls, more runs and more wins.

Knowing how to test and train pitch recognition adds a valuable tool to any coaching tool kit.

Hitters who use this technology begin learning the pitch type and location where pitches end up.

GameSense 2.0 is much more powerful than its predecessor. Analytics show every hitter’s pitch recognition strengths and weaknesses.

Beyond the vision tracking skills it will enhance, this product is fun for players as they have competitions and challenges.

It costs $10 per player per month (billed annually).

There was a special ABCA Convention price of $1,000 for unlimited use by hitters on teams for one full year.

A special ABCA webpage to access this special offer is at https://gamesensesports.com/baseball-college/  

For more information, go to their website at: https://gamesensesports.com/baseball/

Changeup Circle
The Changeup Circle is a product that will be available soon that will help pitchers develop a changeup quicker than ever before.

Prototypes have been designed for many years by Joe Dushane until the finalized product was recently manufactured but wasn’t quite ready for the ABCA Convention.

The 5-ounce, 8-ounce and 10-ounce training tools will teach the changeup with proper wrist flexion as pitchers stay behind the ball and understand proper pronation.

The changeup can be taught with many different grips and can be applied to the Changeup Circle device.

Stripes are in specific colors. Two of the four stripes have finger grooves to help athletes figure out finger placement.

What works best for each individual is what Dushane focused on with the design.

The stripes will indicate proper flight by the spin.

Spinning flat and equal and not wobbling is ideal.

You want to create even drag and friction with the fingertips.

The X from the stripes on the ends of each device is also an indicator for pitchers.

Seeing the X on the end leaving the hand indicates a football throw or being outside the ball which is an improper baseball throw.

Wrist flexion drills will correct this and help each athlete stay behind the ball.

Staying behind the ball is an important part of the throw leading to wrist flexion in the kinetic chain of the throw. This leads into pronation.

The Changeup Circle will help pitchers create and understand the pitch and see results like a change in speed and more horizontal run and vertical drop all ultimately with fastball arm speed to help with deception.

The cost is $44.99 with a promotional discount at the ABCA Convention and discounts for bundles.

For more information, visit: www.changeupcircle.com  

Student-Athlete Planner
The good folks at Always Grind have come up with some remarkable products over the last few years.

They introduced baseball to the Hitter’s Game Log, Hitter’s Notebook, Pitcher’s Notebook, Catcher’s Notebook, Coach’s Game Log and Coach’s Pocketbook.

All of them have been well received in the baseball and softball communities and received Best of Show awards from Collegiate Baseball.

A new product was just introduced at the ABCA Convention called the Always Grind Student-Athlete Planner.

It is the only planner on the market developed by former student-athletes.

It allows student-athletes to track goals, athletic performance, academics, nutrition, networking and sleep all in one visual snapshot.

The planner includes a goal tracking system that encourages incremental progress on a daily basis by allowing you to plan, track and measure goals.

The demand of baseball is hard enough.

Tack on school, proper nutrition, recruiting, networking, proper rest and recovery, a player’s schedule can be overwhelming.

The Student-Athlete Planner helps baseball players stay on top of their busy schedule while tackling day-to-day responsibilities to help achieve goals.

It took Joe Moroney and his staff 14 months to develop the Student-Athlete planner.

Only after testing periods and feedback from high school and college athletes was it finally put on the market.

While Always Grind did not invent this type of notebook, they developed a framework designed for baseball student-athletes to maximize their days in a highly organized fashion that has never been done before.

The cost is $29.99.

To order, go on their website at: www.alwaysgrind365.com  

HitTrax Biomechanics
Biomechanics marries the measured pitch/hit data along with the detailed measure of an athlete’s swing mechanics.

The solution requires no new hardware — only a HitTrax system and the VCAM camera to capture the video of a swing.

The biomechanics analysis is performed on demand by simply clicking the upload button.

After 30-45 seconds, a full kinematics workup is downloaded for review on your HitTrax system.

Athletes do not require wearing sensors or a large array of motion capture cameras, allowing for an affordable solution.

This will unlock new insights on how small changes to mechanics affect the outcome of a hit.

Visualize the tendencies of any particular swing and dive into the details of how a player’s mechanics may be impacting their perfor-mance in specific parts of the strike zone.

The solution was designed by HitTrax and is powered by the cloud compute platform of 3MotionAI.

It took over a year to develop this amazing product.

The cost is $195 a month, and there are various package options depending on the number of active players per organization.

For more information, go on the internet to: www.HitTrax.com  

JUGS Short-Toss Cage
JUGS is synonymous with innovation from amazing pitching machines to batting tees and balls, plus much more.

After three years of development by Greg Anderson, a hitting cage has been designed that can be put up in less than 1 ½ hours.

The frame is 36 feet long by 13 feet wide and features quick-snap button connections.

It includes #42 twisted knotted black polyethylene netting with a finished batting cage netting size of 35 feet long x 12 feet wide x 12 feet high.

The tubing for the exterior of the batting cage of 1.25 inches painted steel, and the thickness of the wall tubing is 1.5 mm.

As an added bonus, three targets are included.

The cost is $1,595 and will be available in April of 2023.

For more information, go on the internet to: www.jugssports.com  

Stinger Batting Gloves
There are many different batting gloves on the market today.

But none have Secure Seam Technology that makes this batting glove so durable and long lasting.

The most common area for rips in batting gloves is on the seam located on the heel of the hand.

The patent pending “Secure Seam” doubles the strength of this area by wrapping leather from the back of the hand around the heel seam and onto the palm to create a seamless look and functional palm pad.

This has been proven to more than double the life of batting gloves.

Batting gloves and their lack of durability have been a problem that all hitters have dealt with for decades.

The Secure Seam technology will allow players to get more swings out of their gloves than ever before they rip.

Brandon Eaton spent eight months designing this progressive batting glove.

The cost ranges from $29.99 – $39.99 per pair.

For more information, go to their website at: www.StingerSports.com  

Pocket Radar Plus
By providing seamless inte-gration with some of the leading player development, streaming and scoring apps, connecting in-game and practice data for recruiting and development has never been easier.

Pocket Radar Plus features slow motion video capture and pitch tagging.

Real-time objective feedback from video and verified data helps identify the strengths of each athlete and provides a blueprint for helping athletes reach and sustain their potential.

Current integration partners with Pocket Radar include GameChanger, AthletesGoLive, SidelineHD and Sporfie.

Coming soon will be AWARE, Baseball Cloud, Diamond Allegiance, MyBallClub, RAPID, Louisville Slugger Hitting Science Center and more.

Two years in the making, it will cost $4.99 a month or $49.99 a year.

For more information, go to their website at: www.PocketRadar.com  

Robic M469 Dual Pitch
Counter & Stopwatch
Don Schoder took a year and a half to develop, refine and produce the M469 Dual Pitch Counter & Stopwatch after many requests from coaches, scouts and umpires.

They were searching for a simple, low-cost solution to pitch count limits.

Additionally, coaches and scouts did not want to reset their stopwatch after each reading.

So he designed an easy-to-use stopwatch for pop times, home to first and other essential timing needs.

No need to reset the stopwatch. Just take one time reading after the other. It starts at 0:00 each time.

The Robic M469 also works in silent mode so base coaches can track all they need.

This device will allow you to keep track of your pitcher and the opposing pitcher on one timer with balls, strikes, fastballs and off-speed pitches…whatever you need.

In addition, it features a breakaway safety lanyard that keeps you safe and helps prevent injury.

The cost is $24.99.

For more information, go to their website at www.RobicTimers.com