Meet the robot pitcher transforming major league batting practice

In recent years, teams like the LA Dodgers have added a superstar to the bullpen, one that doesn't require peanuts or crackerjack. Meet the Trajekt Arc, the latest in robotic technology, a pitching machine that can simulate the velocity, spin and placement of any major league pitcher.

As the LA Times reports, the founder of Trajekt, Joshua Pope, began tinkering with hockey slap shot machines in college before perfecting the device that's been adopted by over half the teams in the major leagues.

Pope and his co-founder, Rowan Ferrabee, had to devise a way to generate life-like spin on the ball using a three-wheel pitching machine ("If you rotate the wheels off-axis," Pope explained, "you can get the gyro spin" needed to emulate breaking pitches).

To top it all off, they added a gigantic video screen to the front of the machine. Before every "pitch," the screen displays a video of the selected pitcher's wind-up. Then, in the exact same spot as the pitcher's release point, a hole opens in the screen through which the ball comes zipping out.

The device has its limitations. It can't simulate the pitcher's exact hand position, which eagle-eyed batters use to predict what's coming their way. But at least it doesn't have to worry about wardrobe malfunctions.

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