Pittsburgh startup Diamond Kinetics just hit the homer of sports tech partnerships with Major League Baseball.
Specializing in the development of tech-powered baseball and softball training tools, Diamond Kinetics helps players, coaches and teams of all skill levels better understand how to improve their game. Founded in 2013, the startup has offices out of the Riverside Center for Innovation on the North Shore, and currently employs 35. Its suite of products, which include the SwingTracker, PitchTracker and Smart Bats, use motion data and analytics to provide insights for players to enhance their baseball and softball skills. (One former pro ball player called the startup “the future of baseball.”)
The new partnership with the MLB — which was announced in tandem with another partnership the league formed with Tacoma, Washington-based EL1 Sports — is part of an effort from the league to increase youth accessibility to sports training through digital tools. The partnership names Diamond Kinetics as a new Trusted Youth Development Platform of the MLB and enables the startup to provide kids with a new digital gamification environment to teach them better hitting and throwing techniques.
“They will be able to take real swings and make real throws using DK’s bat sensor technology and smart balls, while merging MLB content directly into their everyday baseball activity through DK’s mobile apps,” Diamond Kinetics VP of Marketing David Heidenreich told Technical.ly via email.
Starting this summer, youth baseball and softball players will be able to use Diamond Kinetics’ sensors, smart baseball equipment and apps in tandem with MLB Clubs, game content, Statcast data and more through MLB partners to track progress and compete with friends in a comprehensive MLB-themed digital experience. The MLB will also combine Diamond Kinetics’ apps and related tech with its existing initiatives PLAY BALL, RBI and local community programs. Furthermore, the startup’s tech will assist the MLB in scouting efforts through the MLB Draft Combine, Breakthrough Series, DREAM Series, MLB ID Tour, High School Home Run Derby, High School All-American Game, States Play and the Prospect Development Pipeline League, a press release said.
We’re thrilled to announce our partnership with @MLB. It’s a tremendous opportunity to positively impact baseball and softball while driving new types of engagement with today’s youth players. Stay tuned! More info coming!https://t.co/HV3J37W3OT pic.twitter.com/FrT02SsDyx
— Diamond Kinetics (@DiamondKinetics) April 1, 2022
“Major League Baseball is excited to formalize our relationships with both EL1 and Diamond Kinetics, both of whom will be steady presences at our youth and amateur programming,” said MLB Chief Baseball Development Officer Tony Reagins, in a statement. “Together, these innovative partnerships represent our sport’s commitment to supporting the future growth and accessibility of baseball and softball through engaging and fulfilling experiences for kids, parents and coaches.”
The partnership came out of an existing working relationship between Diamond Kinetics and the MLB, with a number of the league’s stakeholders working to form a strategic and long-term bond between the two. Many of the relationships that led to this announcement came from past work with scouting programs, individual MLB clubs, and investments from the Pittsburgh Pirates and LA Dodgers into the startup, Heidenreich said.
The news of the partnership comes after a $12 million raise for the startup in the third quarter of last year. It remains unclear what series the raise was for, or what the money went toward beyond general growth, as Diamond Kinetics did not publish a public announcement on the funding. According to past reports, Diamond Kinetics had previously raised $5.7 million. It’s also a sign of increasing activity for sports tech in Pittsburgh, in addition to the $6 million Series A raised by fitness tech-focused CMU spinout CoPilot Systems at the start of this year.
“We are excited to partner with Major League Baseball in such an integrated and powerful way”, said Diamond Kinetics cofounder and CEO CJ Handron in a statement. “As Major League Baseball’s Trusted Youth Development Platform, together we will roll out fun, engaging, and instructional content through our apps to players at all skill levels, from beginners who want to discover the game and build their foundation to advanced players looking to fine-tune their skills and reach their potential.”
Looking beyond the partnership to the rest of 2022, Diamond Kinetics has big plans for growth. Heidenreich added that the startup has added eight roles over the past several months, and will plan to add at least 10 more by the end of the year. (See open roles here.) Though the team will look for candidates at a national level, Heidenreich said the company expects a good portion of those hires to come out of Pittsburgh.
“Starting later this year, Diamond Kinetics will begin rolling out a continuous stream of mobile-based, MLB themed digital experiences that line up directly with real-life baseball fundamentals and skill development to help kids discover the game like never before,” he said. “There will be more announcements related to the MLB draft combine and All-Star Game this July as well as promotions and content time to the MLB playoffs and World Series in the fall and heading into the holiday season.”Sophie Burkholder is a 2021-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Heinz Endowments.
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