Scottsdale company behind new tech for Major League Baseball players

Baseball is known for all the hand and finger signals to call pitches or plays, but not anymore.
Published: Mar. 24, 2023 at 6:01 AM MST|Updated: Mar. 24, 2023 at 9:59 PM MST
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SCOTTSDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - Baseball fans will know PitchCom. It’s a newer technology that Major League Baseball brought into the big leagues last year.

PitchCom developed a device that is changing how players communicate on the field. Baseball is known for all the hand and finger signals to call pitches or plays, but not anymore. “It seems like it’s just become part of the vernacular of baseball,” PitchCom’s Co-founder Craig Felicetti said. “It’s completely hidden, so there is no way to figure out what pitch was called, or what location was called, unlike using visual signs.”

PitchCom’s technology is similar to an everyday radio transmitter and receiver. The catcher uses the transmitter to send an audio message to the pitcher. The pitcher has a receiver in his hat. When the catcher pushes a button, the pitcher will hear the message the catcher recorded.

It’s a way for the two players to communicate faster while reducing confusion from hand signals. Felicetti says 97% of major league pitchers are currently using PitchCom. “Especially with the pitch clock this year, we expect it to be the same or higher,” he said. “They seem to really like it.”

Felicetti’s business partner approached him after the Houston Astros cheating scandal in 2019, looking for a technology solution that would later become PitchCom. Felicetti, a magician, knew this would be possible since he’s previously built similar devices for other magicians. Felicetti now makes devices for MLB teams and magicians from his shop in Scottsdale.

“I never thought it would lead to the MLB. Magicians were shut down with the pandemic. We were out of work, nobody was doing anything, so we were trying to figure out ways to do different things.”

Felicetti said it was tough at first to get in front of the executives at MLB. Once the duo showed off their prototype, the league wanted in. Minor league teams first tested PitchCom in 2021. With glowing reviews, it took only a year until every team in the big leagues signed up to use it.

For the 2023 spring training season, the league is running tests on the technology to see if pitchers can use a transmitter and tell the catcher what they will throw. “The pitcher is able to call his own signs. That’s something they’ve never done before in MLB,” Felicetti said. “They say baseball never changes, and this is probably one of the most significant changes and the quickest changes they’ve ever done.”

PitchCom is now making its way into college baseball. It’s not just baseball, either. Other sports leagues worldwide are now interested in the system as well. As for the cost? Well, that’s a mystery for now because of the company’s non-disclosure agreement with Major League Baseball.