At spring training facilities across Florida and Arizona this week, the presence of high-speed cameras and data-capturing systems over a pitcher's shoulders in their bullpen sessions is as ubiquitous as the coaches overseeing them.
The Orioles' camp is no different, and manager Brandon Hyde said the setup behind his pitchers over the first few days of throwing has been a source of great interest to the pitching staff.
"Those ones more show how the ball is going out of your hand," said right-hander Dylan Bundy, whose first bullpen session in front of the cameras was Wednesday. "I just saw a couple pitches. We'll get into that when things kind of calm down a little bit and all the excitement wears down I guess, but I did see a few pitches and that's some pretty cool technology."
Said Hyde: "We're going through our individual meetings right now — we've gotten a majority of the pitchers, and they're all really interested in what their readings are, and some presentations that we have for them. But they're ready to dive into it, and we've had a great response for the interest level from them into the new analytics stuff that we've brought, the guys from Houston have brought from here. I think we've got a great response to it."
The cameras, which give a detailed view of how the ball is released and thus provide a glimpse at how spin and consistency of release is generated, have been used for several years by other teams around the game, especially the Astros front office that produced Orioles executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias, assistant general manager for analytics Sig Mejdal and minor league pitching coordinator Chris Holt.
Though the Orioles are late adopters, Bundy said there's little resistance considering how established some of the methods are.
"There were some technologies back [when I first made the majors] that people didn't take too well," Bundy said. "But you can see the success all around the game with it, so I think that's why everybody's changing their mind and really trying to open up to all that info."
Bundy had his second bullpen Friday, and said he's been able to carry many of the things he wanted to work on this offseason over into his early workouts. The task for the next six weeks, before he possibly makes a second consecutive Opening Day start, will be to mesh those goals with what the new coaching staff and front office believe will best suit him to improve for 2019.
"That's the whole goal," Bundy said. "Everybody wants everybody here to get better. Everybody's working on something else, and all the technology and the numbers, horizontal movement, vertical movement — all that stuff can help you if you let it. You've just got to take in the information and try to apply it to your craft."