Tommy John surgeries have seen a marked rise across just about every level of baseball over the past several years. The procedure, which rebuilds a pitcher’s torn ulnar collateral ligament, has been performed on around a quarter of active major league pitchers according to numbers released last season – and it’s become a major issue with minor league, college and even high school players, as well.
The issue? Pitchers are throwing hard, and a lot, from an early age.
Ziel – that’s German for “aim,” or so Google Translate informs me – is the work of a team of Rice University students. It’s a sleeve designed to be worn by pitchers, using an array of sensors to track motion and determine performance metrics in order to put players and coaches on notice before major issues arrive.
The company has been through a number of prototypes with the project and is currently aiming for a 2018 ship date for its M2 sleeve unit. According to Engadget, the first version will be targeted at high schools initially, a fact that could help the wearable designate problematic throws early on, to help nip issues in the bud.
The sleeve in its current form won’t come cheap, at $250 for the hardware, with an additional $10 a month subscription fee for software that will offer up insight into all of the metric it collects. Pricey, yes – but also a heck of a lot cheaper than a Tommy John.