On June 21, Alex Torres of the San Diego Padres became the first pitcher in Major League Baseball to wear a polymer-lined protective cap to shield line drive hits. The caps, which are created by IsoBLOX and MLB-approved, are lined with a soft padding made of “plastic injection molded polymers combined with a foam substrate.”
IsoBLOX described the caps as slightly more than a half-inch thicker in the front and an inch thicker on the sides when compared to standard caps, but they still provide a strong shield. The padding diffuses energy upon impact through a combination of dispersion and absorption techniques, protecting against line drives of up to 90 mph from frontal impact locations and 85 mph from side impact locations.
MLB began their search for the best padded cap after the 2012 season, when two pitchers were struck by line drives, with one resulting in a skull fracture, brain contusion and epidural hemorrhage. At that time, Unequal Technologies offered their own protective cap made with Kevlar and a rubber-like polymer, but it was IsoBLOX’s cap that finally made it to the league this past week.