The Perfect Pitch
Fishers-based baseball tech company is changing the game
Writer / Josh Brown
Photographer / Brian Brosmer
The game of baseball has evolved. Gone are the days of deciding how great a player is by simply looking at their batting average, how many home runs they’ve hit or how many games a pitcher has won. Those numbers certainly still matter, but with the emergence of sabermetrics, teams are diving deeper into advanced analytics to determine the value of players and future value of prospects.
With the popularity of MLB’s Statcast data, baseball teams today are much more focused on analytics like exit velocity, launch angle and spin rate.
Rapsodo is a baseball and softball analytics technology company that offers pitch tracking tech. The company’s sales team, made up of six former high school and college ballplayers, resides in Launch Fishers. The small sales team packs a big punch wearing many hats, including extensive product testing and customer service. The team is led by Seth Daniels, Director of Sales and Marketing for Rapsodo.
“As soon as we launched our product in October of 2016, we knew we needed a salesforce support team,” Daniels says. “The entire team is support and sales, and we lead the charge. It is a total group effort. We test the product and software, too. It’s never a bad day when you get to go to the ballpark or batting cages and take hacks.”
The company’s CEO, Batuhan Okur, first started Rapsodo with golf in mind. Okur lived in Silicon Valley for 10 years before landing in Singapore where he started a family and continued working on startups. Throughout golf outings and meeting with investors, Okur wanted to improve his golf game but found that the only tech available for such data was doppler radar, which could cost as much as $20,000. Okur decided he could build the same kind of tech for much cheaper, and the golf flight monitor was born.
From there, baseball was the next logical step to expand the company’s technology.
Today, Singapore is home to Rapsodo’s main headquarters, housing the engineering team and actual building process of the product.
Daniels, a Pendleton, Indiana native and former ballplayer at Anderson University, got word of Rapsodo in 2015 when a business associate, and investor, suggested that he apply for the sales position.
“I had six midnight Skype interviews because of the time difference and a 20-hour flight for my final round of interviews,” Daniels says. “That was right when they began the first product development for the alpha testing. We came in and did some of the product integration. There was a lot that we did to help with the baseball terminology and testing. We debuted in January 2016 at the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA), and it was a big success. The tech that we have enables our product to be so much cheaper than what is out there. That caught people’s attention.”
Recently, Rapsodo landed a deal with Major League Baseball and USA Baseball to be the ball flight data measurement provider for every single Prospect Development Pipeline (PDP) event this year. The PDP is a recent player development initiative created by the MLB commissioner to make player evaluation more inclusive and not cost prohibitive. The MLB wanted a way to standardize the data, too, and that’s where Rapsodo has stepped up to the plate.
“We are very excited about this,” Daniels says. “What is really cool is it helps these ballplayers get exposure to the data. They will get a report after the showcase that shows their data and how they stack up with other players. It is a great initiative to help with the education side of things. We are going to get to expose a lot of people to this technology.”
Today, more than 20 MLB teams have utilized Rapsodo’s pitch tracking technology. The company didn’t expect to be so popular this early on with MLB teams, because most teams have similar tracking systems already in place. The difference is what they’ve had is much less mobile and portable. Rapsodo’s simple setup system and portability drew teams in quickly.
Now, Daniels says, MLB teams can take their technology and software to scouting sessions for high school and college pitchers and can utilize real-time data that appears right in front of them on their iPad or computer as players throw bullpen sessions off the mound.
Rapsodo is now in the process of launching its new hitting technology kit as well. The tech will be able to measure launch angle, exit velocity and spin rate giving hitters the ability to evaluate that data and change their swing based on what type of hitter they want to be.
“High school kids can get in the cages now and train with our tech and see this data,” Daniels says. “That is really exciting. We use the tool from a development standpoint. The technology gives you the insight to change things. If you are a pitcher, you can change the way you throw to have a higher spin rate. You can literally create your pitches. Swing design will come that way, too. You want your leadoff guy peppering line drives, not hitting 35-degree launch angles.”
For now, Daniels says Fishers will continue to be home for the Rapsodo sales team. Because of all the travelling he does, Daniels says Indianapolis makes a great “central hub” to just about everywhere.
As for the future, the company has its long-term goals in place.
“In the next 12 months, we will have several new product releases,” Daniels says. “Baseball is just the beginning for us. We will branch out into softball and more golf, too. Things are pointing up, and we are excited about the future. Hopefully, we continue to grow and see good things happen.”