Upcoming pitchers will soon have a new tool at their disposal to help them tune their craft. Bellevue College student, Rose Brittain, is working with a company called Morlex LLC in order to bring the baseball world a device as useful as weighted bats and as functional as a dog that fetches.
The prototype of the “Baseball Buddy” looks much like a large easel or canvas, with a large black wall sitting on top of a pair of supports. Along the base of this “wall” is a white tray and in the middle of the black surface is a red square, designating a theoretical strike zone. Inside the square is a pillow-like padding.
The idea is that the device can be used in solo pitching practices, allowing a player to work on hitting a strike zone without the need for a catcher or a coach calling strikes or bringing buckets of balls around.
“There is nothing like it on the market,” Brittain said. “It will enable the pitcher to practice alone.”
Brittain was introduced to the project through a mutual friend of the inventor. It was then that she met Kip Sanders, a Duvall man whose idea was expanded upon by Brittain. While the basic concept was brough about by Sandars, Brittain made the Baseball Buddy into a real baseball product.
Of course, it the above description is not the finished product. When the device is sent out for mass production, it will include lights and speakers to signal balls and strikes both visually and audibly. In addition, it will be able to return balls to the pitcher. How this was facilitated seems to still be under wraps.
Theoretically, a player would always hit the padded area within the strike zone, but what happens if they miss their target and strike the solid black area that makes up the rest of the device’s face?
“It is design with a no rebound backboard,” Brittain said. “It is a special material. I cannot give more information than that. “
Apparently the company is working on a number of patents for the device, especially that “no rebound backboard.” The company has an entire team of patent-specific lawyers working for them.
Of course, until the device is closer to final stages of production, a concrete price will be hard to pinpoint, but estimates are putting it in the 400 to 500 dollar range.
The device already has some major league backing. Brittain has had five-time World Series champion and well-regarded pitching coach, Mel Stottlemyre Sr., out to look at her work.
“We had the pleasure of having Mel Stottlemyre at my home,” Brittain said. “He was impressed with what we had to show him and he is just a great gentleman and ball player.”
It sounds like he isn’t the only one. Brittain has already heard from Little League and other baseball groups about licensing the product.
On top of building one of the most important new creations in recent baseball memory, Brittain is still finding time to take classes at BC.
“I have one more year at Bellevue College,” she said. “I am enjoying the opportunities that are offered.”
Perhaps Morlex should get in contact with Blake Hawksworth, a former Bellevue College alumni who recently broke into the big leagues with the St. Louis Cardinals.