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My son is in 8th grade and , will be looked at by the HighSchool Coach, either this Summer or next Fall/Winter. Almost all Freshmen play on the Freshman teams. My question is: Should he train to specialize for one or two positions , or  try to continue as a Utility Player? He currently plays on two Select teams for one coach and Pitches, catches, outfield and third base and has played alot of First base in years past. He's 6'1/4" 170 lbs and fast but not super quick, so his pop time is not the best and he's not quick enough for SS. Coach plays him everywhere he needs a position filled and he does pretty good at each position , but i don't think his body style was meant for playing catcher ( in the long run), but maybe i'm wrong. He loves to pitch and is getting pretty good at it and has always been one of the best hitters on his teams, so i'm sure the coach will want him somewhere when he's not pitching. I'd hate to spend the time and money for lessons and training on a certain position , if the coach needs him somewhere else. Any advice would be appreciated.

C H Adams

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It’s good to play multiple positions.  The coaches will set his path re that over the course of his high school career

The best piece of advice I received for my kid who is now a High School Senior is to make sure his Grade Point Average is as high as possible.  Going into high school, we knew he wanted to play college ball, and we had no idea what level of college ball he’d end up being good enough for... what was clear though, was that a high enough GPA would enable him to get academic scholarships

He should work on getting bigger, faster, stronger, more skilled and play wherever coaches want him.

My son went from catcher to short to center from 12u to high school. He was recruited for college ball as an outfielder. His first start was at second. By junior year of college he had played everywhere but pitcher and catcher.

In travel he played whatever position the pitcher came from until his 17u coach made him a center fielder.

The moral of the story is become the best player possible and hit the ball. Coaches find positions for players that hit. Because high school upperclassmen tend to get the priority positions, unless there’s a specific opening it helps to be able to play right or left to make varsity in the early grades if you hit.

Last edited by RJM

All above good advice.

My guy was moved from freshmen to Varsity only after agreeing to catch (a position he never played).

Very quickly began to rotate pitching/position play with ss and 3b. Never caught all season.

Made All State Utility.

Began to see that colleges recruit many more pitchers, so went to showcases as PO.

Threw 90 and phone begins to ring.

Recruited D1 as a pitcher with chance to play 2 way.

And it all begins again with a new coach and team.

Play where they let you and work like hell while you do it!

RJM hit the nail on the head. If he hits the coaches will find a spot for him, especially if he can play multiple positions.

My son started the season as the varsity catcher and ended up playing some SS/2b/P because of an injury to the starting SS. This year his HS coach is planning on him catching a game or two per week and pitching a few innings as well.

The best piece of advice I received for my kid who is now a High School Senior is to make sure his Grade Point Average is as high as possible.  Going into high school, we knew he wanted to play college ball, and we had no idea what level of college ball he’d end up being good enough for... what was clear though, was that a high enough GPA would enable him to get academic scholarships

This is great, GREAT advice.  Something that I wish somebody had drilled into my kid's head (and mine) is that pulling straight A's in middle school does not mean that you'll do the same in high school with the same amount of effort.  It is usually MUCH HARDER and takes more time, and you have to be ready for that. 

Plus, in 8th grade  the difference between straight B's and straight A's is that with A's you might get a ribbon or a certificate at the end of the year.   In HS the difference might be getting into Stanford vs getting into Samford.

As for specialization, all good advice above so I'd just say that unless the kid can really mash I'd be leery of spending too much $$ and effort at C.  The last person you want to be on a HS baseball team is the backup catcher.

Despite the trend and pressure to specialize today, whether it be a sport or position, I was and continue to be a firm believer in playing multiple sports, especially at that age. We bucked that trend and my son continued to play three varsity sports in high school (baseball, hockey, football).

In my opinion there are a number of benefits to the body, mind and development of real athleticism. Burn out can and does happen when you specialize too soon.

Versatility in any sport is huge as you rise in age and level of play. In my opinion, coaches recognize and want it. Not all bodies or skills sets are built for it but if you can, then it will only help to develop it.

And I couldn't agree more with others and stress a primary focus on academics. A great student who is also a ghreat/good athlete in multiple sports tells a coach a lot about a kids determination, discipline and work ethic. More importantly, it also opens doors to great schools that offer a great education and possibly money.

Son had a goal from freshman year to play sports at a HA institution. I know for certain he would not have the opportunity he has today had he not been so focused on his academics. Likewise, I know based on his feedback last night from his 1v1 meeting with his HC, that his effort, attitude and athleticism were recognized, valued and will only help get him on the field in the future.

So much can change from 8th grade to senior year in athletics that he will have no control over. Good grades are within his complete control.

Let him play where he can or has the most fun. If that's utility, so be it. HS Coaches usually stick kids where they are best or need help. Enjoy the game, learn to train, get stronger and be a better player at whatever position he enjoys. My kid found out the hard way that bigger kids usually play ahead of smaller players. Our HS Coach believed in seniority over talent. It helped my son grow into a pitcher and that role carried him to where he is today. Enjoy it as a parent, it goes by before you know it. 

Versatility shows athleticism. Mine played every position except 1b at that age. His job was to cover for every pitcher (and pitched himself). He was trusted not to make mental errors and was athletic enough to handle all spots but 1b. In HS he won the SS position. College he hit his way into the lineup as DH 1st year, then CF. Versatility. Throw gas or hit the ball.

AdamsBB: I agree with Roadrunner above. Versatility is good! I actually thought the reason my son played out of position in HS, was to make up for others who weren't as versatile. Son's college profile listed that he started 6 different positions in HS (no P, 1B, or C). RipkenFanSon was actually listed as "Utility" when the incoming classlist was forwarded from the college to his recruiting class. He was told the position he filled was for an "Athletic MI who could play the OF."

As in all cases, if you know that you will play (and hit), and be pencilled in, play that position to the best possible to help your team win. With son, he just hoped that he would start and hit #1 or #2 in lineup and told enough time in advance so he knew which glove to get out of his bag and warm up.

Based on your son's current situation, I wouldn't steer him towards PO, or spend additional $$ training for catcher. In summary, play all positions he can, earn the most innings, have fun, help the team win, and keep the grades up!

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