Smart baseballs (or robo-balls), designed to help pitchers develop their curve ball and increase pitch speeds as the ball approaches the plate, are now available in Japan. Technical Pitch, created by Japanese mobile software developer Acrodea, Inc., looks and feels like any other baseball, but has sensors that capture pitch speed, the tilt of ball’s rotation and rotations per minute; with results sent to a smartphone. The company says that the data’s accuracy matches that of sophisticated MLB in-park radar systems (though TrackMan disputes that notion). Acrodea says that several MLB teams have expressed interest in the product.
Howie Long-Short: There are several ways to play smart baseballs. You can invest directly in Acrodea on the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TYO: 3823) or Alps Electric Co. (OTC: APELY), the Apple (AAPL) supplier that developed the technology Technical Pitch draws on. You can also play Mizuno Corporation (OTC: MIZUF) or Aichi Steel Corporation (a TM company), who are collaborating on a similar product (called MAQ); to be released in the spring.
Fan Marino: It seems likely that robo-balls will be used for scouting purposes. Scouts travel to far distant lands in search of the next Clayton Kershew, often lacking the resources to obtain/track reliable data related to ball movement. Now all it takes is a $180 (retail price) ball, the prospect and a catcher. Several Japanese League teams have already begun using the product. It is important to note that these baseballs are not designed to be hit!
For the balance of today’s newsletter, sign-up here!