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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.

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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!

Some great advice above. In my experience most 8th graders come to HS out of position. Meaning that the difference between 8th grade and Varsity baseball can be vast. The HS coach will most likely play him where he fits for that team. That may or may not be his best position, each school is soooo different. This can lead to the vast majority of parental bitching and moaning at times but usually it works itself out. I always have said that hitting is the great equalizer. If you hit, they will find a spot.

I used to chuckle when kids would come into the program and fill the info sheet out and put that they played P,C,SS,3B,OF!!!! So you’re telling me you have no position!! Lol.At some point you have to start to zero in on something and for some being a PO is a good thing. I also , as a former 3 sport athlete in HS myself, don’t believe there’s as much benefit in HS to doing so nowadays and can see the downsides also. It’s situational for each kid. And stop talking about Patrick Mahomes and guys like that because they are aliens and not like 99.9999999% of us. We would have pitchers come to us after playing basketball or swimming in the winter and each year it was detrimental for them and their performance and development. Again it’s situational.

bigger, faster, stronger is always good, good grades are worth their weight in gold. The first question (maybe 2nd) from every college coach will be “how are his grades?”. Given most kids get more on the academic/merit side, including mine, that will go a very long way for most players.

Can't agree more with all the previous posts regarding:

  • Grades
  • Tools(Hitting, throwing, speed, etc)
  • Strength

Only other comment I'd add, is regarding pitching.  And in the case of travel and HS, know your coaches.  I've seen too many kids that coaches ride because of their arm.  Staying within the guidelines, but just within the guidelines.  Know your coaches...are they in it to win and may cause damage to your sons arm to win a title, or do they have his best interest in mind.

My son's at a D1 in California, and the number of kids coming in with TJ is amazing.    His HS team had a D1 commit pitcher and JUCO bound pitcher.  Both played for a "shaddy" travel ball coach that bent the rules on pitch count.  When HS was done, JUCO bound kid was done due to arm issues.  D1 bound kid was a 4 year pitcher and 3 year varsity pitcher.  Senior year had bone fragments in elbow and stopped pitching.  Lost scholarship, went JUCO, tried to go back to playing IF, but bat wasn't there anymore.  Struggled at JUCO to get playing time.

Lastly, regarding  HS, just because most freshman play on the Frosh team, doesn't mean he shouldn't work hard to make JV or Varsity.

Last edited by Dad H

I still stand by specializing in education, but by this age he, you, the coach, or some combo of the 3 should have an idea of what he is geared for. I’ve seen a few kids list 6 or so different positions and have a confused look when I ask them why they didn’t crow hop when shooting 4 from the OF. Another example is the big kid list SS and can’t throw on the run, or 2nd base and have no idea of footwork around the bag.

I'm not implying that these things can’t be taught over time, but what I am saying is more than just a catcher requires specialization. I would hate for your son to show up to tryouts his freshman year and look bad on first impression by playing a position he is not prepared for. Especially if the high school which your son attends has a powerhouse program.

Good advice -thx all. Unfortunately we've just had a set back. Son's been limping off/on for past two weeks ( started after doing sprints for swim team). Pain gone after a couple days rest and never hurt when pitching or jogging or batting. He pitched the game of his life Friday night ( 6 Ks in 2 and 2/3 innings, gave up only 1 hit and no runs), but when trying to run out a grounder, on Saturday , just fell down halfway to First. Had to be carried off the field.          x-rays showed two fractures in pelvic/hip area, even though he never had any trauma. Orthopedic surgeon says its common in young athletes, especially sprinters. We are going for a face-to-face with surgeon tomorrow to see if he'll need surgery. He still can't lift his left leg. If anyone has experience this , please let me know.

Thx to all.

@Shoveit4Ks posted:

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.

How is that ole undersized max-effort thrower doing these days?  Still mowing ‘em down with mid 90s stuff?

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.

My son's experience was most coaches like versatile players who can play multiple positions.   It gives the coach more options.  If a player can hit a coach will find a way to get him in the lineup.

In travel ball son primarily played C and 3B, but did actually play every single position including pitcher.  When he got to JV (8th grade) he was 3B and C.   At the Varsity level he played C his sophomore year, 3B his junior year and 1B his senior year.  Coach loved the fact he could move him were he needed him.

It wasn't until college (JuCo & D2) that he began to really specialize.  For JuCo he was recruited as a 1B, but his freshman year was a mix of 1B and DH with a little bit of OF mixed in.   As a sophomore he was primarily at 1B (started most games).   At the D2 he was 1B and OF, but mostly 1B.

As I said, hitting will get you in the lineup and noticed.  The D2 coach never saw my son play - son had the 2nd most # of doubles (27) nationally his sophomore year.  Shortly after he finished JuCo he received a text requesting him to contact them.    As one of the parents said, "He's an RBI hitting machine."

Just saw this.  Sorry to hear this news.  Due to your son's age my guess is it was growth plate area, since he is on rest only, that's the best news possible scenario I believe.  Son had Pelvic Avulsion Fracture (no surgery) HS Sophomore year to beat out 6-4-3.  Has CAM Impingement, worked hard this fall to hopefully play this Spring.  If not able to go, will have surgery, then see where he is after that.  Feel free to PM me if you want to discuss.  Best of luck to your son during the rehab process, keep spirits up + challenge him.

How is that ole undersized max-effort thrower doing these days?  Still mowing ‘em down with mid 90s stuff?

LOL....thats good stuff. He is good. Last two seasons, ended up starting in Spring Training as NRI and this past season was at the alternate training site. He tore it up in ST and learned the hard way about the "investment" in the bullpen and how that affects you moving up, regardless of ability or results. He will take another run next spring and we'll see how it goes. Thanks for asking.

The coaches were more impressed with the multi-sport athletes and "utility". Do not specialize on one position as if you're a SS, the coaches will tell you - I have 6 of those. What else and where else do you play?

During the recruitment for my son, the D1 coaches were most impressed with the athleticism. He included in game dunking videos in his profile he sent coaches and that got the most attention and discussion. They recruit athletes.

Not sure what the limit or guidance is for infielders or catchers, but 1000 x your age (give or take) is a great limit on an arm.  Playing on 2 travel teams and HS might be a tad much, unless one is local and another is travel, but at 8th and 9th grade, that isn't really necessary and gets really expensive. Save your time and money for later and let the kids be kids. Specialize position later.

One of the stories that stuck with me through the process started when we were 11U and playing in a national tourney in East Cobb Complex in ATL. One of the scouts there at the 18U event said if "I had twins of equal talent, equal grades, separated at birth and one grew up in Texas and another in Ohio. I'll take the guy from Ohio 9 times out of 10 as the kid from Ohio has to take a break and probably plays another sport. The kids in Texas can play year round and come to me hurt or worn out. Year round ball is not advised and you should document first pitch of season/last pitch of season and breaks." 

Thx Eokerholm, good points about athleticism. I liked the part about "dunking". Makes the video more memorable, too. I think I might have mis-lead some people when i said he was on two teams. He is, but the coach just plays him on one at at time( switches him around depending on where he needs him).  My kid is  on a break right now due to an avulsion fracture in his hip. He first started mentioning the pain after his swimming practice when they did Dry Land Sprints. Anyway, it sucks, but at least it'll force him to take a break for 3-4 months. He's going stir-crazy, as baseball was his "life" and where all his friends were. Still, I think this break will be good for his "overall health" .

Thx for the good info!

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