A new watch-like device to hide pitch signals has been introduced to the college baseball stratosphere.
Though the device was officially approved by the NCAA last year, this season will be the debut of Vanderbilt’s watch usage. Pitch selection information from the coaching staff is received on the device, worn on the glove. Teams can also opt to use an earpiece for the same purpose.
"Examples of what could be implemented next season include teams being allowed to use an electronic display board from the dugout that shows a numerical code to call pitches and/or defensive plays," the NCAA said in a press release. Teams also can use a one-way in-ear communication device that would be limited for use from the dugout to the catcher."
All nine players on the field will wear the device to help pitchers hide signals, cut sign-stealing and improve the pace of play. Unlike typical baseball, the watch will provide for signs and the catcher will not produce any.
Talk about futuristic …
Another thing to note is that these devices are also one-way, which means they can only receive signals, not send them.
According to the SEC Network +, the devices were prohibited to be worn by pitchers when the NCAA first approved of them. However, this season, pitchers can also strut the accessory.
"It is technically called an electronic display board in the NCAA's lingo," SEC broadcaster Max Herz said. "This was the first year it's been legal for a college pitcher to wear something like that … Scott Brown, the Vanderbilt pitching coach, is punching numbers into a controller he has, and all nine Vanderbilt players on the field have one. They all see the same thing. That tells the pitcher what type of pitch to throw, and where or how to throw it."
This innovative enterprise is not just something out of the blue. The NCAA implemented the idea following the MLB’s concerns with cheating. "WhistleGate" occurred in 2017 when the Houston Astros took part in a sign-stealing scandal. Players, coaches and the MLB in general were baffled by the way the team advanced themselves to win, causing skepticism ever since.
The NCAA took this weary situation and ran with it, ultimately permitting high technology equipment to prevent such situations from reoccurring. They are testing the device out for what could eventually be a new asset to MLB players.