As a volunteer head coach for both a 10u and 13u Little League travel teams, I initially used the PowerNet Launch F-lite Baseball machine, which worked well for the younger players hitting balls between 40-46'. However, it didn't meet the needs of the older 13u players who required practice with breaking pitches at higher speeds from 60'. Due to budget constraints, finding the right replacement was crucial. I eventually decided to invest in the Mound Yeti 2, and it has proven to be an excellent choice.
Right from the start, I could tell the Mound Yeti 2 was a high-quality machine just by looking at its packaging. The overall build and finish are superb, and the motors operate so quietly that you almost forget they're running. Although the assembly instructions were somewhat unclear in some parts, I managed to put it together with relative ease. The only unexpected aspect was its weight; it's quite heavy, approximately 100 lbs. This heaviness led to one of the handles breaking during assembly, which was a downside.
Nevertheless, weight has its advantages too. The Mound Yeti 2 stays steady and on target without jumping around even when firing baseballs at speeds exceeding 60 mph. Overall, I am delighted with this purchase and believe it to be an excellent addition to our training.
Note: After researching through online sources and videos, it became evident that standard synthetic baseballs wouldn't suffice for our practice needs. Across different machines and manufacturers, the unanimous recommendation was to use real leather balls or, for optimal performance, dimpled balls. While dimpled balls proved to be effective, I preferred using genuine baseballs for practice. Therefore, I acquired some low-seam baseballs. Our league possessed an old jugs machine that nobody used, so I took a dozen yellow dimpled balls and twelve of my regular real baseballs for a comparative test.
Starting with real baseballs and aiming straight down the pipe at the center punch-out target, the ball displayed some movement. Out of twelve attempts, it missed the strike zone only three times. Shifting to the low-seam balls, the accuracy improved, missing the center punch-out hole by mere inches but never straying from the strike zone. The low-seam balls went 9 out of 12, precisely hitting the center target. Dimpled balls hit the center every time. The machine was set up at 55 feet within a batting cage, and the speed was set to approximately 50-60 mph.
However, since the Mound Yeti 2 can throw breaking balls, I decided to set it up for right-hand curveballs. Adjusting to hitting the center punch-out hole took approximately 3-4 minutes. The performance with regular baseballs was disappointing; regardless of how I positioned the ball, it failed to hit the punch-out hole and only managed 8 out of 12 pitches within the strike zone. The low-seam balls fared better, but the movement still caused the ball to land close to the center punch-out, hitting it 5 out of 12 times while missing the strike zone once.
The most significant break and accuracy came from the dimpled balls. They hit the strike zone all 12 times and struck the center punch-out hole 9 times, with the 3 misses being very close. Based on these observations, it's evident that regular baseballs are better suited for defensive drills rather than batting practice (BP). Low-seam balls are ideal for general BP, as they introduce slight variation in each pitch. On the other hand, dimpled balls are perfect for working on specific parts of the strike zone, such as low and outside pitches, providing excellent results in those scenarios.