Introducing gameSense Sports Pitch Recognition Score


Doug Freeman
Florida Executive Director

PBR-Florida is excited to announce the addition of gameSense Sports Pitch Recognition scores as an added evaluation in our upcoming events. We first tested the players at the Underclass Games at UCE on June 23rd and today we break down what pitch recognition ism why it is important and how we are testing it and how it can be improved. 

What is Pitch Recognition, and why is it important? 

Pitch Recognition is hitters’ ability to recognize the type of pitch right out of the pitcher’s hand plus 10-20 feet of ball flight. If the hitter recognizes breaking ball release, and the ball comes out head or shoulders high, then the hitter can overcome his natural instinct to give up on the pitch and instead adjust his swing to nail a hanger. A hitter with advanced Pitch Recognition can sense “not a fastball” on a two-strike pitch that appears to be thigh-high, lay off a strike-to-ball slider, and get another pitch to hit. 

Pitch Recognition has always been known as a key to high-level hitting but has been assumed to come from talent or thousands of plate appearances. The difference now is that Pitch Recognition can be tested and trained as never before. Just as with Launch Angle and Exit Velocity, putting a number on an “invisible” aspect of the game leads to targeted training and systematic improvement. In other words, if you can test it then you can train it.

The method that PBR uses to test and train Pitch Recognition is video-occlusion. Video pitches, from a batters’ view, are cut off and hitters guess the type of pitch and whether is will be a ball or a strike. For decades, sports scientists used video-occlusion to study faster-than-possible sports skills such as return-of-serve in tennis, goalie saves in hockey and soccer, and baseball hitting. Research shows that the best performers do not have extreme eyesight or eye-hand coordination. Instead, they have the ability to read cues in the opponents’ serve, shot, or pitch that give them a few precious microseconds extra to select and execute a response. The best performers react impossibly fast, while seeming to have “all the time in the world.”

Testing Pitch Recognition

PBR-Florida has partnered with gameSense Sports to add this important component to our player evaluations. gameSense has tested over 500 college and professional hitters using a video-occlusion test that comes right out of the research laboratories. Pitch Recognition score shows not only if a batter can hit pitches well, but also if he can choose the right pitches to swing at. The test taken  is the exact same test taken by college and minor league hitters, and your score is benchmarked against these “next level” hitters. The average college/minor league average score is about 750. Many high school hitters PR scores are well above the average of college and minor league hitters, including the current PBR-Florida high score of 900 by Ashton Wilson. 

While a good PR Score shows scouts and recruiters that a hitter is next-level ready,
interpreting Pitch Recognition scores is not as simple as “higher is better.” gameSense Sports co-founder Dr. Peter Fadde points out that pitch recognition is like any muscle; it improves when it is needed. “A lot of successful high school and travel hitters don’t have great pitch recognition because they haven’t needed it,” says Dr. Fadde, who is a professor at Southern Illinois University. “If a hitter is successful, and he doesn’t have great PR, that’s good news. It means there’s room for improvement, which is hard to get when guys are already advanced and have maxed their practice and workout routines.” 

Improving Pitch Recognition

Like all PBR-Florida profiles, Pitch Recognition scores have two important aspects. One is to give more information to college recruiters and professional scouts. The second aspect is that it gives players great feedback on a high-level hitting skill that they need to either consolidate (if they have a high PR Score) or concentrate on (if they have a low PR Score). 

The gameSense Sports app lets hitters practice pitch recognition against a variety of minor league pitchers: right and left-handed; overhand, three-quarter, and sidearm; power and control type pitchers. Pitchers can be viewed from left or right-handed batter views. Hitters guess pitch type and ball/strike on pitches cut off about one-third of the way to home plate. If you’re good enough, your reward is to guess pitches cut off 6-8 feet out of the pitcher’s hand. “And that’s when you get dangerous,” says Dr. Fadde. “When a hitter can read the pitch early, then his chances of barreling it go way up.” 

A major league organization that uses gameSense testing and training through Advanced-A level found that hitters PR Scores after 3 months of video-occlusion training correlated with both their season On-Base Percentage and Slugging Percentage. The higher hitters’ PR Scores; the higher their on-base and slugging. 

Below you can find the top 10 PR scores from the Underclass Games at UCF. As mentioned, this test has been normed to college and minor league hitters, so top 25% is relative to that base. 

First Last Pitch Location Score 
Pitch Type Score
Pitch Recognition Score
Ashton Wilson 370 390 900
Ryan Braddock 380 360 875
Mason Hixenbaugh 410 310 840
Kyle Blazer 420 290 830
Peter Balos 370 340 830
Bradley Hodges 340 360 815
Jacob Crews 410 290 805
Kiran Ramjeet 360 330 790
John Gibas 390 290 775
Luke Dotson 340 310 770
Gabe Garrett 340 330 770