You love baseball. Always followed it (maybe even wanted to go pro but life happened). Now, you want your son/daughter to take the mantle. So, how do you get your child interested in baseball?
The trick is to get them into it when they are young. So, instead of shoving baseball down their throat, they’ll grow a genuine love for the game. Plus, if you start teaching your kid the basics of hitting a baseball, they will have a leg-up above their competition by the time they grow older.
And spending time training your kid will also strengthen your bond with them.
I love using pitching machines to train young hitters. But if you are practicing with a kid, you cannot go with just any pitching machine. A decent pitching machine costs a lot, for one thing. And furthermore, it might be a bit too overwhelming for someone who has no experience hitting a baseball at all.
That’s where the MLB Electronic Baseball Pitching Machine by Franklin Sports comes into play. This is one of the cheapest pitching machines available, with features well-suited to meet the needs of a complete beginner.
I am about to share my two bits on this fantastic little pitching machine and help you figure out whether it’s worth the green or not (PS: it’s really cheap) in this Franklin Pitching Machine review.
First Impressions of the Franklin Sports MLB Electronic Baseball Pitching Machine
The main selling point of this pitching machine is its price. It costs under 50 dollars which is astonishing for the performance it offers. Sure, it will not blow you away with incredible speed or functions, but it works wonders when using it to get your kid interested in the game.
That’s why I couldn’t help but keep it in the run for the top pitching machine for kids. Not because it’ll help them win a major tournament. But it’ll get them in the zone and habit of hitting accurately.
This pitching machine is mainly designed for ages 4 to 12 years. However, once the kid has a decent bit of control over his swing, you should stop using this pitching machine and get something more advanced. Or you could simply get him to play against a live pitcher for a better experience.
Another good thing about this machine – apart from its price – is that it comes with a basic automatic ball feeder. So, you will not have to feed the ball yourself between each pitch manually and can instead monitor and guide your kid to hit the ball with more precision and power.
Besides, since it comes with six hollow plastic balls, you will not have to invest in anything extra once you get your hands on it. It comes fully assembled and takes only a few seconds for you to set up. When it comes to pitching machines, it does not get simpler than this one.
Here is an in-depth review of the different features of the Franklin Sports MLB Electronic Pitching Machine.
The main purpose of this pitching machine is to help train your child from an early age. And the pitching accuracy of this machine for that specific purpose is quite decent. It takes a couple of attempts to set it up, and since the unit is so lightweight, it can move out of position if you do not secure it properly.
However, once you do set it up perfectly, it shoots the ball on pretty much the same target each time. As a result, your kid will not have to worry about the pitch trajectory changing drastically. It is an excellent tool to help you ease your kid into the art of hitting a baseball.
For the price, the pitching machine is surprisingly flexible. Sure, you will not be able to switch between different pitching types. The machine will only throw a straight ball at a constant speed of around 20 miles per hour. But because of its lighter weight, you can easily reposition it to change up its relative pitching speed.
In addition, the pitching machine allows you to adjust the pitching height at three different angles. As a result, you will be able to train your young athlete in multiple different batting styles. Both of these adjustment options are extremely helpful in training a young hitter.
Plus, you can use the three adjustment options to do some fielding drills with your kid as well. So, your champ will get a taste for hitting and fielding.
A kid who is a complete beginner at baseball will naturally have poor hitting timing and reflexes. If the machine gives no warning before firing the ball, it will be extremely difficult for the child to hit it. The manufacturer knows this and takes specific measures to make it easier for the hitter to strike the ball.
This pitching machine is designed to fire each ball with an interval of seven seconds. And before throwing a pitch, there is a small LED indicator just below the chute that flashes to let the hitter know the correct hitting timing. It serves as a helpful guide in helping your kid get the timing right.
Portability and Power
Since this entire pitching machine is made of plastic, it is extremely lightweight. As a result, you will be able to move it around easily without any issues at all. You also get an automatic ball feeder with your purchase that holds up to 9 balls. And to sweeten the deal, you get six balls free with the pitching machine.
So, 9 balls with a 7-second interval = 63 seconds of engagement before your kid, or you collect the balls. So, if you aren’t feeling like tagging in with your kid, perhaps you’ll get some reading or work done while your young athlete is working on his swings.
It also does not require any cable connection for power. You only need 6 D batteries to power the machine. And you can insert the batteries on the bottom part of the machine after removing the battery cover. The battery life is also pretty decent, giving you plenty of use before requiring a replacement.
And no external power source means there’s little to no risk to your child. So, if you leave your child alone with the machine, there’s nothing to worry about.
Is It Right for You?
The Franklin Sports MLB Pitching Machine, at the end of the day, is still only suitable for small children. It’s what I call – a glorified ball-tossing toy. It does not pack enough power or flexibility to make it suitable even for little leaguers who are in the Major Division and above. While it definitely is not the top-quality pitching machine out there, it is still a decent starter option for your kid.
Having used it myself to play with my six-year-old, I must admit that it does offer some fun options. It gives you a good way to give your kid a leg-up among the competition. Sure, it has its fair bit of hiccups, but as a starter pitching machine, it is not a bad choice at all.
Even I have a go at it when I’m bored in the house. The plastic balls don’t (more aptly put – can’t) break anything expensive. So, I can have fun without the risk of getting into a screaming match with my wife.
If you want to have some casual fun yourself or want your kid to learn the basic mechanics of hitting, the Franklin MLB is an excellent option. Plus, it’s dirt cheap. So, you won’t end up with a hole in your wallet even if shit hits the fan. I hope you get a wonderful parent-child time with the help of this machine (like I did). Cheers!