Hess may look casual, but his workouts aren't

April 19th, 2020

Over the past year, has learned the value of incorporating technology into his mound work and training, and of using the resulting analytical data to make adjustments in real time. After being introduced to Edgertronic cameras in Orioles camp last spring, he began utilizing Rapsodo machines this past winter as well, as part of his work with renowned private St. Louis-based pitching lab PD Premier.

Now with baseball on pause due to the coronavirus pandemic, Hess is bringing those lessons home with him.

The Orioles righty posted a video to Twitter Friday of him throwing a bullpen off a mound near his Greenville, S.C., home. Hess is dressed casually, throwing in shorts, sneakers and a T-shirt. But the work is serious, as evidenced by the iPad sitting behind the mound, in the bottom right corner of the video frame.

The device allows Hess to access up-to-the-second feedback on each of his pitches, which Rapsodo analyzes for spin efficiency, axis and other advanced metrics. He invested in a personal device after training this past winter with P3, the same lab that helped emerge into a surprise ace a year earlier.

“Being able to get immediate feedback on pitches is a great tool to keep working and improving,” Hess wrote in the tweet. “Big thank you to @rapsodo for helping me stay ready during this downtime until baseball returns!”

The video speaks to the continued evolution of many Orioles pitchers, the likes of which who had not been exposed to many modern player development tools before the 2019 season. The Orioles analytics department has grown more than five-fold since executive vice president Mike Elias and assistant GM of analytics Sig Mejdal took control of baseball operations in November 2018; in the 17 months since, they made tools like Edgertronic cameras, Rapsodo and Blast motion bat sensors integral parts of the organization’s developmental blueprint.

Hess is just one of several examples of players who responded by choosing to buy-in on their own time as well. The 26-year-old was hoping it would help him turn a corner this season, after going 1-10 with a 7.09 ERA in 23 games (14 starts) last season. He was likely ticketed for a multi-inning bullpen role when camp was halted.

In the meantime, Hess and his wife, Devin, are also getting involved in charitable causes. Both took to Twitter last week asking fans to donate food to Baltimore-based non-profit Student Support Network, which is working to fight food insecurity for children during the COVID-19 pandemic.