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Klotz Center a "Game Changer" for Canes Baseball

Klotz Center a "Game Changer" for Canes Baseball

by David Villavicencio

The University of Miami boasts one of the best baseball programs in the country, with four national championships, 25 trips to the College World Series and 46 NCAA tournament appearances.

But the Hurricanes are adding another impressive item to their arsenal: the Jimmy and Kim Klotz Player Development Center.

My first thought was, ‘This is unbelievable.’ It’s been a long time coming and it’s a game changer for our program,” head coach Gino DiMare said of the new state-of-the-art facility the Hurricanes are set to open this summer.

“It’s something that’s been in the works for a long time and to finally see all the hard work come to fruition is amazing,” DiMare continued. “We are certainly very appreciative of Jimmy and Kim Klotz for being our lead donors in this, as well as all of our loyal supporters who made a gift to this project. It’s going to change everything for us. We all know with our weather down here that things can change quickly, but now we always know we’re going to be able to get something done, even if the lightning alarm is on or there’s heavy rain. Most importantly, it’s going to be great for our players to help develop them to be the best players they can be, but I think it’s going to be great for recruiting and it’s going to be great for our camps, as well.”

Miami’s baseball program is one of the most iconic brands in the sport, but the Jimmy and Kim Klotz Player Development Center ensures that the Hurricanes will have a world-class facility to master their craft on a daily basis.

“The Jimmy and Kim Klotz Player Development Center is a critical addition to our athletic department and for our baseball program,” Miami director of athletics Blake James said. “We offer our sincere gratitude to Jimmy and Kim for their generosity and to all of those who helped make this project a reality. Our storied baseball program will take a big step forward with this facility and, most importantly, our incredible student-athletes will benefit for years to come.”

The Jimmy and Kim Klotz Player Development Center, an approximately 6,800-square foot facility which sits down Mark Light Field’s right field line, features batting cages, three pitcher’s mounds and a multi-purpose area, along with the latest state-of-the-art technology.

“The biggest thing is people are saying we are getting new batting cages. This is so much more than just a batting cage,” Miami assistant coach Norberto Lopez said. “It’s truly a player development center and the difference between a batting cage and a player development center is all the technology that we’re putting in and all the metrics that we’re going to get from all of this technology that we are putting in there. We have high-speed cameras and Rapsodo and Blast Motion, and all of that will help us evaluate and develop our players to an even higher level.

“That data allows us to assess what a player is and where he is in his development as a player,” Lopez continued. “Once we assess where they are as a player, then we can implement a plan to improve any deficiencies that comes back from the assessment, as well as continue to build the strengths we find in the assessment. The data provides a baseline that helps us check if that plan is working.”

In addition to technology like Rapsodo and Blast Motion, which help provide biomechanical analysis for pitchers and hitters, Miami’s new indoor player development center features a camera system that allows for complete video analysis and data tracking.

“[Assistant AD of Video Services] Andrew Rossetti did a tremendous job setting up our camera system in there,” Lopez said. “We have 360-degree capturing action with these special cameras called Edgetronics. What Edgetronics does, they’re used a lot for pitch shaping or pitch tunneling. It really tells us differences in things like release points and you can actually see that on film with the programs that we have. And you can actually see what the fingertips and wrists are doing when you’re releasing the baseball, which are things that you can tell a guy to help make adjustments. These are all things that we can show them and they can visually see it. The technology helps make an assessment on the player and visualize that assessment. Then the coach can come in and put a program in and you can assess the program over time to see if it’s working or if you need to adjust it.”

Miami has produced nearly 300 MLB draft picks, proving that the Hurricanes have a sustained track record of developing players. But DiMare and his coaching staff are excited about how the new Jimmy and Kim Klotz Player Development Center will help Miami’s hitters and pitchers improve dramatically.

“This is not only a hitting facility. This is both a pitching and hitting facility,” DiMare said. “We’ve got three mounds in there, so we’re able to get a lot of things done for our pitchers and our hitters. We’ve got all the top technology in terms of video equipment and things for our players to use to help in terms of our coaches working with them. They can see things in real time when they’re actually in there. They can see themselves and what they’re doing and so if there are things that we need to correct, we can do it right away.”

“A lot of baseball players are visual learners and when they see the numbers, they can understand it better,” Lopez added. “You can give them something to help understand like, ‘Your spin rate is this and here is why it’s that.’ Or with a hitter, you can show, ‘Hey, your swing is not on plane.’ Now we actually have a device that’s going to show exactly what his bat plane is.

“Is your bat plane too steep? Is your bat plane too much uphill? Is your bat plane in the zone a long time? These devices are going to tell us exactly what that is,” Lopez continued. “It will help [Miami pitching coach] J.D. [Arteaga] the same way. You can talk to a player about their spin axis and their extension. You can show them, ‘Hey, your extension is at three foot instead of being at six foot.’ That’s huge for a pitcher. These are all things that will help us tremendously in player development.”

Miami’s players cannot wait to get access to the new facility. Standouts like catcher Adrian Del Castillo have been training at home for months and are eager to get to work in the new building.

“I do my own thing now with my brother and my dad and sometimes I’ll invite a couple friends over and have fun with it, too,” Del Castillo said. “We have a machine here, so we hit off the machine and I catch off the machine. But I’m really excited for our indoor to be open at UM, so I can go get some work done there, too.”

“I can’t wait for the indoor to open up,” first baseman Alex Toral said. “It’s going to allow current and former players to get their work in, no matter what the weather conditions are. My biggest excitement is the 24/7 access we will have, that way when your bored at home and looking for something to do, we can go with a roommate or even alone due to the fact we will have the ball feeding canisters on the machine. I can’t wait to be back in the fall and get to work in there.”

In addition to helping the current Canes with player development, the Jimmy and Kim Klotz Player Development Center is already helping attract the next wave of Hurricanes to Coral Gables.

“It’s a game changer in recruiting,” said Lopez, who is Miami’s recruiting coordinator. “It’s already helped us get commitments from great young players. You have places that have technology and indoor facilities and are wowing recruits with all of that. Before we had the player development center, we weren’t able to wow any recruits with things like an indoor facility or a pitching lab. We were using the kinesiology department across the street for the biomedical movement. But now we actually have a pitching lab for them to work in. That’s why this facility is so much more than just new cages. What makes the difference between cages and a lab is the technology that you put in there and we have all of the state-of-the-art technology now.”

A veteran with over 20 years of experience coaching Division I baseball, DiMare believes Miami’s new player development facility is among the best in the country.

“I’ve been in a lot of indoor facilities. Most people have them nowadays and I’d put this right up there with any of the ones I’ve seen,” DiMare said. “We’ve got a lot of things inside here that are really going to help our players. For us, it’s a game changer. I think we’ve got one of the more beautiful indoor facilities in the state, if not the country.”

The Jimmy and Kim Klotz Player Development Center plays a crucial role in elevating Miami’s baseball facilities, but it is just the first step in the University of Miami’s Baseball Facility Enhancement Campaign.

“Knowing that we do have phases, this is part one and we have other phases that are in the works,” DiMare said. “We’re going to stay very aggressive trying to do those things because we want to be one of the top programs in the country and, in order to do that, you’ve got to have top facilities. The Light is a great place and we’re keeping the historical tradition from the stadium that we have here but we’ve got to add some things with that to stay up with the times.”

Miami is currently fundraising for the second phase of renovations to Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field. The $7 million campaign will support funding for a new scoreboard, as well as renovations to the Hurricanes’ locker room, players’ lounge and nutrition center. To make a gift or learn more, click HERE.

“This indoor facility is a great start to that,” DiMare said. “We had done some things prior to that, like I think the padding on the wall around the field really helped spruce up the stadium and give it a nice facelift when we did that a few years back. The indoor is obviously great and then, moving forward, I know we want to try to get a new scoreboard put in and get into our clubhouse and redo the locker rooms and nutrition center and things like that. This is just a great start. It’s a really, really great day for UM baseball.”