CINCINNATI -- When the Cincinnati Reds take on the Pittsburgh Pirates Tuesday night for their Wild Card play-in game, fans will hope to see Aroldis Chapman take the hill in the 9th inning to put the Bucs away for good.
Reds fans well know that Chapman is a monster of a man, listed at 6'4, 205 pounds, with the missile of an arm that can reach MLB record speeds of 103 mph.
Chapman usually has his way with batters (112 strikeouts in 63.2 innings this year, allowing only 18 runs for an ERA of 2.54, a WHIP of 1.04 and 38 saves in 2013), but there have been times where he has been roughed up.
Fortunately for the Reds, Chapman has five saves in five attempts against the Pirates, allowing no runs on just four hits in 6.1 innings.
So while Reds fans "Ooo" and "Awe" at Chapman's incredible pitch speed from the safe confines of the seats at GABP, just how hard is it to get a hold of one of those Chapman fastballs?
That's a question you can answer yourself at the Southwest Ohio Baseball Training and Academy (SWOBAT) facility in West Chester.
SWOBAT has a pitching simulator batting cage called ProBatter, which puts a simulated pitcher on a screen and hurls pitches at the batter on the other end, ranging from 40 mph for little leaguers, to 72 mph Bronson Arroyo changeups, 90 mph Mike Leake fastballs, all the way up to 100 mph rockets the way Chapman would fire them in.
We went up to the facility to take a crack at just how hard it is to even see the ball, never mind make contact with it.
You can watch a video of the different pitch speeds from a first-person perspective above (100 mph is at approx. the 2:55 mark), or skip straight to the fast stuff in the YouTube video below.
In case the results aren't obvious, here's what we found: It's really, really, really hard to hit a 100 mph fastball. And a 90 mph fastball. Same with a 72 mph changeup.
Want to give 100 mph a try yourself? Even if you're interested in more practical speeds, SWOBAT offers rates for 30 minutes of ProBatter cage time. Members at SWOBAT pay just $20 per half hour, while non-members will have to fork over $35.
Teams across Major League Baseball use the ProBatter simulator, including the Cincinnati Reds, to duplicate the experience of facing live pitching.
SWOBAT also offers a ProBatter fast pitch softball simulator for $25 (non-members) and $15 (members).
SWOBAT focuses on individual instruction, but offers team learning and camps as well. With 12 batting cages and a large artificial indoor field, the facility has offered services year-round for five years at their West Chester location.
Adam Basil, facility manager at SWOBAT, says they hardly ever use the speeds of 100 mph, but rather more compatible speeds to the individual batter's learning experience, from Little League to high school and beyond.
"This is a great tool for that visual of getting that kid seeing that motion," Basil said.
You can be a member at SWOBAT for free batting cage time and other discounts for just $299 per year. The facility also offers pitching instruction, equipment rentals and other baseball-related lessons.
For more information about the ProBatter and the SWOBAT facility, go to http://www.swobatsportscomplex.com.
The facility is located at 9230 Port Union Rialto Road in West Chester.
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