Baseball History Maker:Mitch the first to pitch to the ABS/Automated Ball-Strike System(Mitch Atkins, from Northeast Guilford HS puts the baseball across the plate and a computer/TrackMan makes the call)

Posted by Andy Durham on July 15, 2019 at 1:05 am under Amateur, High School, Professional | Comments are off for this article

Last Wednesday night, in partnership with Major League Baseball, the independent Atlantic League rolled out the Automated Ball-Strike System (ABS) during its All-Star Game at PeoplesBank Park.

The first pitcher to face the ABS/Automated Ball-Strike System in a LIVE baseball game and live to tell about it, was Northeast Guilford High School graduate, and former Northeast Guilford Rams baseball star pitcher, Mitch Atkins….

Atkins made baseball history in that All-Star Game last Wednesday evening, at York, Pennsylvania…

More on Mitch and his very first pitch coming into the ABS/Automated Ball-Strike System, coming in from the Atlantic League Professional Baseball website and by of the The Athletic is available for you right here, as you read on below….

The baseball history-maker is Mitch Atkins, from Northeast Guilford High School, just outside of Greensboro, N.C., on Hicone Road….Northeast Guilford High School, home of the Northeast Guilford Rams…..

from the Atlantic League Professional Baseball website and The Athletic….. HERE to read the entire article/post….

***********The veteran starting pitcher**********
York Revolution right-hander Mitch Atkins has had plenty of high-pressure moments in his 16-season pro career. He made 10 appearances in the majors from 2009-11 for the Chicago Cubs and Baltimore Orioles.

In 2011, his big-league starting debut came against the defending AL-champion Texas Rangers in Arlington, and he allowed one run in six innings.

So, at age 33, throwing the first pitch to an automated system in an exhibition game in an independent league isn’t exactly butterfly-inducing.

But, hey, Atkins had a mission with the first pitch.

“I was just trying to throw a strike, really trying to throw it down the middle. A fastball down the middle is gonna be a strike with an umpire or a TrackMan,” Atkins said. “So, I wasn’t really nervous. I’m always a little anxious before games, but TrackMan doesn’t really affect me.”

His first pitch of the All-Star Game was, indeed, a waist-high fastball to Justin Pacchioli of Somerset. A no-doubter called a strike. And with that, Atkins was in the history books. Not something the easygoing Carolinian was too concerned about.

“I haven’t really thought about it in detail. I guess I’m still more in game mode and not really thinking about the future of TrackMan,” he said. “I think once this stuff catches on more I think it will sink in a little more as (me) being a pioneer of TrackMan. I can then tell my grandkids I was there at the start.”

Atkins said he threw one inside fastball he thought should have been a strike once it was framed well by his catcher, but it was called a ball. And then he threw a high fastball at the batter’s chest that never gets called a strike by a human umpire, but it got the nod from the ABS.

“The high pitches that it calls, I don’t necessarily think they are strikes, as a pitcher, visually,” he said. “Every pitch that I’ve thrown up there has always been a ball my whole career, from 6 years old until now, so it’s different to see them called strikes now.”

Ultimately, the system might benefit pitchers. But Atkins said he prefers the human element. And now he can’t blame the human element, he joked.

“If TrackMan is calling the same pitches all the time, then (arguing) will be done. You can’t get mad at TrackMan,” Atkins said. “Of course, I shouldn’t get mad at umpires, either.”

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