imagesBaseball, perhaps more than any other major sport, is a game which prizes skill and technique above overall athletic ability. Though gifted athletes have a leg up when running bases or scrambling to make plays on defense, the game’s two central actions, pitching and hitting, are infinitely nuanced disciplines. Neither pitching nor batting is a simple art to master. But Baseball’s best hitters can benefit greatly from working with skilled pitchers. And Major League Baseball (MLB)’s front-running Washington Nationals give plenty of credit for their success to their batting practice pitcher, Livian Hernandez.

Hernandez, a former Nationals starter, retired last offseason and joined the team as a spring training coach. He quickly has found a groove in the batting cages, where he simulates a wide variety of pitches for Nationals batters—not just standard fastballs, but sliders, curveballs, and change-ups as well. As an experienced MLB pitcher, Hernandez is willing to cater to the needs of each batter—he can throw only curveballs to a hitter struggling with breaking pitches, for example. And Hernandez is talented and knowledgeable enough to even mimic the style of the next pitcher Nationals players will face in the season.

Nationals manager Matt Williams had high praise for Hernandez’s training abilities. “He can throw any kind of breaking ball, if guys want to work on that. It’s an advantage because it doesn’t have to come out of a machine. You get a real live human being that is pretty good with the ability to throw it for a strike. He’s been great.”

The team’s first baseman, Adam LaRoche, also enjoys the unique batting cage experience training with Hernandez offers. “He’s awesome. I’ll take regular BP [batting practice] but I love Livo [Hernandez] because I can get a full at-bat. He’ll come out and watch that day’s pitcher and will mimic their windup or their times. Like, he’ll know if they’re real quick or a slide-step guy. He’ll mix up pitches.”

Batting cage specialists are in high demand in Major League Baseball, as teams seek the ultimate batting training experience for hitters. But a coach who can mimic the delivery and timing of the next Little League or recreational league pitcher you face isn’t always easy to find! Pitching machines and batting cages are, and Wheelhouse Batting Cages has cages and accessories you can trust in.