Kyle Clements, 24, is the Gwinnett Braves minor league video trainee. The Northern Virginia native came to the Atlanta Braves organization after starting his professional baseball career in Fayetteville, Ark., working for the Class AA affiliate of the Kansas City Royals.
In this installment of "Getting to Know..." staff writer Ben Beitzel talks with Clements about what exactly his job is, if the George Mason graduate cheered for Jim Larranaga's Miami team during the NCAA basketball tournament and whether, in his Redskins' fan opinion, Robert Griffin III will be ready for Game 1.BB: Tell me about your job. What does the video trainee do?
KC: It really entails, obviously, I am here in Gwinnett, but I really, per-se, help with the whole minor league video department as a whole. It starts in spring training, I go down there and I handle all the video for the minor league guys down there. It's a lot more than what you see, I set cameras up before the game, but that's mainly what people see from the outside. It's a lot of computer work, charting pitches and pitch types. I have to chart every pitch, every game, location, pitch type, whatever I see. It's basically charting the game while getting video. It helps the players, coaches, I don't know how much it helps the front office. It's mainly used here for our players and coaches as far as evaluation.
BB: The players sit behind the plate and chart, do you sit there with them?
KC: They actually just do pitch velocity during the game. I actually, during the game, am in the clubhouse in the video room. I get the cable, I get the feed into the room there and I use a number of different pieces of equipment to capture it live.
BB: Do you use PITCHf/x (a pitch charting program used at major league parks)?
KC: I do not use PITCHf/x. I look and see and whatever (pitch) I see is what I put in there. That's how it's done at the major league level. Granted they have PITCHf/x up there.
BB: How do you become qualified to do that?
KC: I guess there really isn't, especially in the minor leagues, you can't really be picky especially as the scene is really growing as far as minor league video right now. I majored in sports management and knew I really wanted to do baseball from Day 1. I went to college and I volunteered for George Mason's baseball team. Obviously, it's a college where they are very overshadowed by the basketball team, so I kind of got an in there, they were just happy to have someone volunteer. I did radar and set up the video camera and just caught some side angles. It turned into one of those things where, 'Hey, you've worked with video before.' George Mason has this huge connection with Kansas City and that's how I got into Kansas City doing minor video with their double-A team.
BB: That had to be a big move from, basically Washington, D.C., to Fayetteville, Ark.
KC: Big change. Big change. It was one of those things where I didn't travel with the team. So moving somewhere halfway across the country, on off days it was like, 'What I am going to do?' That's one of those things you can try to get extra work. If you want to work in baseball you have to try to go above and beyond everybody else out there because there are so many people who want to work in the business.
BB: At least it was a college town.
KC: It could have been a much worse situation.
BB: Have you seen the video and the interest in it grow in your short time?
KC: It grows as they become more familiar with what they can do with it. When you first get here and they hear video, at first they are like, 'OK, I can go see what my at-bat looked like.' It's so much more what they can do. Pitchers can go and look at how to pitch to a hitter, how to throw a certain pitch to a hitter, what their weaknesses are and what they are capable of. As they figured out what they can do with the whole system as a whole it kind of become more of a thing where guys are always in. I have two replay stations in there and it probably wouldn't hurt to have three. It's really grown and it's great to see it grow. It is something that is really helpful as far as things they can learn.
BB: Your little room, it typically seems busy, is it that way all the time?
KC: It is, if they are not outside, and during the game obviously, it's quiet. We even have guys come in sometimes during the game because we have the capability of capturing it live. They can come in after an at-bat. It's constantly, especially this year, it's been a lot more people in.
BB: Do you edit the video?
KC: It's basically pitch-by-pitch. It basically separates those clips and breaks them down and stores them on the computer and stores them with the data. It's kind of remarkable, the data you can get out of it. I basically just use the stadium feed. I am just cutting that apart live.
BB: Plus the video from your cameras?
KC: Those are actually attached afterward. The program counts the duration between pitches and what you can do is, you can go in and sink that up. After the game, you set it first pitch and it marks it all the way through. I just have to set the first pitch and then it sets it all the way through. It's something extra I have to do after the game. It's a cost effective way of having a camera set up and just attach it afterward.BB: You said you knew you wanted to get into baseball, why?
KC: I grew up around it. I always played it. I just always had a love for the game. You find out when you get into high school whether you are going to be able to play at the next level. I didn't have a calling for playing. The next best thing was to work in the business. I just set sights on that from Day 1. I feel like I've done a good job and here I am.
BB: Were you a Braves fan growing up? In Newport News you were close to Orioles territory and later the Nationals.
KC: I got this question even during my interview and I told them, I wasn't going to lie to them, but I actually did (grow up a Braves fan). Like everybody hears, people even from California say, 'I grew up a Braves fan, I watched it on TBS all those years.' That was actually my case too. It was either the Cubs or the Braves. For some reason, I just like the Braves, probably because they were easy to watch because they were easy to like. When I moved to D.C. the Nationals had moved in and I kind of took a little bit of a liking to the Nationals, people around here probably wouldn't be too happy to hear that, but I did start following the Nationals because I kind of took them as a hometown team.
BB: As a Northern Virginia person, you had to grow up a basketball fan, that close to Washington. That's a basketball area.
KC: It is, it is. I do love college basketball and going to school at George Mason, obviously that's a basketball school so I do love college basketball. I can't say I follow the NBA closely, the Wizards have struggled as of late. I am a pretty hardcore Redskins fan and I took a liking to the Capitals. Hockey games, it's a different world when you go to a game.
BB: Since you went to George Mason, do you root for your former coach Jim Larranaga's Miami team?
KC: I don't know how to feel about that. It's kind of a mystery as to why he left. He's a good guy. He obviously is a good coach. He did well at Mason. It's good to see him do well, but hopefully Paul Hewitt can return the success in some ways.
BB: All right, you said you were a Redskins fan, is RGIII ready for Week 1?
KC: You know what, I'd like to say absolutely and I do have the gut feeling that he's going to be ready to go for Week 1. I don't like to make bold predictions because when you are wrong you look pretty dumb.