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Buying a baseball pitching machine is not easy, even for veterans of the sport. The best pitching machines offer the ability to easily vary ball velocities and the types of pitches coming at batters — and are durable to boot. As an example, following is an ATEC M3 Baseball Pitching Machine review with details.
That the company promotes the M3 as the “Official Machine of Major League Baseball” says volumes about this tool’s capabilities, and trust within the industry. Its 3-wheel design, ability to easily adjust to hurl a variety of bending or sinking pitches, at speeds ranging from 30 to over 100 mph, brings much to the table for high-level baseball practice.
User reviews indicate happy customers for a variety of reasons, among them how easily it is to simulate real game play by not having to toss the same fastball pitches to hitters over and over. Real baseball hitting means adjusting to whatever a pitcher may throw — which should be entirely unpredictable.
Efficiency and Performance
What stands out with the M3 is the ease in adjusting the types of pitches. For the operator, to the left is a panel of 3 knobs, one for each of the wheels that spin and project the baseball forward. To the right is a chart explaining which combination of settings on each of them will provide a desired speed and pitch type.
This is unlike the classic 2-wheel pitching machines. Adding the third wheel underneath the slot where balls are fed, to provide (and control) vertical spin means a world of difference. It’s like the difference between looking at something in 2D vs. 3D. You get an additional depth, up and down, to go along with side-to-side.
This machine is large enough to remain stable on its tripod-style legs during use; and the upper area hosting the spinning pitching wheels way off the ground is very sturdily designed, with a durable steel frame. Moving the aim up or down or left or right is easy as turning a handle. The 110v AC-powered motor provides plenty of energy during use. It’s really plug-and-play ready, just bring a bucket of balls.
Using the M3 Baseball Pitching Machine
Using the M3 is as easy as dropping balls into the slot in the center, in intervals of at least 8 seconds. The manufacturer recommends using its own balls, the ATEC Hi. Per(R) ball line aerodynamically designed for consistent ball flight and accuracy. However, the M3 is compatible with ATEC balls covered in leather, or with foam or what are known as “dimple balls” — the hard plastic balls favored by a lot of batting cages.
It’s just that consistent and accurate ball flight can be influenced by the machine only about 70% of the time, according to this manufacturer. Therefore using the balls it designed to work well with this machine should improve the accuracy in the 30% range. Get it?
Once plugged in, send a few balls down the slot without a batter present, to set the aim over home plate. Then, with a hitter in the batter’s box, use the knobs and chart to the right to mix up pitches for the batter — just like in a real baseball game. Aside from adjusting pitch styles and velocities, you can also alter location inside or out, up or down.
- Can vary speeds from 30 mph up to 105 mph — or at the top velocity thrown by the best MLB pitchers.
- Adjustability to throw fastballs, curveballs, sliders, splitters, and even knuckleballs!
- Quick-Pitch-Select to change pitches by just turning dials.
- Concave dual-durometer wheels
- Durable steel frame with tripod base
- ABS wheel guards
- 8-second minimum recovery time
- 60-inch pitch height
- 125 lbs.
- The maximum speed of 105 will be attractive to players and coaches at the highest levels of baseball play.
- Likewise, the ability to easily change the velocity and type of pitch thrown one after another is a very attractive feature, to simulate real game play.
- Huge mix of styles of pitches, including splitters and even knuckleballs, to get hitters used to exotic offerings through repetition.
- Breaking balls can be set as if they came from either right- and left-handed pitchers.
- Durable and steady on the tripod legs.
- Relatively short recovery time.
- At 125 lbs., it’s rather heavy, and the tripod legs do not have rolling wheels at the bottom for transport.
- The 5-foot pitch height is not quite tall enough; real-game pitches come from higher up for steeper downward angles (when they throw overhand from atop a pitcher’s mound).
The 3M Baseball Pitching Machine by ATEC is among the top batting practice tools in the industry, for a number of reasons including its sturdy makeup. Pitching machines can take a beating not just from hit balls pinging off them, but the act of transporting the large machines to and from fields.
What sets this fine model apart is its high maximum pitch speed, and the great variety of pitch types that a coach can select and throw at batters. This is not your old-school pitch machine that only throws fastballs, with only the velocity (and maybe location) changed.
It’s designed to train professional-level baseball players, by acting like high-level pitchers. That is, unpredictable in terms of pitch selection.
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