Hello - My son is a 15 year old sophomore LHP who is 6 foot and throws around 77/78.  He's a very solid pitcher with good command of 3 pitches (2/4 seam, change up and curve).

We have a bit of a dilemma and are seeking advice.   My son is currently home schooled and plays for a highly competitive home school team which plays some of the top private schools (and a few public schools) in our area.  So he has been pitching on varsity against some pretty high quality hitting.

Due some various circumstances we may need to have him go to private school next year.  The team he would play on doesn't play against as competitive teams and the quality of the hitters is much lower.  He does play summer and fall select ball and will be doing show cases, etc. the coming two years.

So the main question I have is how important is it for the development of a young pitcher to face the best hitting possible?  Should we make accommodation to try and keep him pitching against better quality teams?  His pitching coach (ex-MLB LHP) says yes.  The guy who runs his select organization, pitched in the minors and is a MLB scout says no its not that important - he will get that in summer ball.

From a "fun and enjoyment" stand point either is fine in his mind but its a heck of a lot simpler for him to play for the high school team versus what is a lot of driving and travel time for the home school team.  Plus just the aspect of playing for your school team is enticing.

My son is very focused on playing D1 ball with every once in a while the thought of playing pro (I encourage him to only think about college LOL) - so he is serious about his development.

Any advice or insight is much appreciated!

Original Post

I agree with RJM. For my son's development it was about off speed pitches. His junior and especially his senior year, he could just throw his fastball by most hitters. For the better hitters, he utilized his CB and slider as well (pitching coach called pitches). He probably threw 90% fastballs. What he never developed in HS was a change up. He worked on it some but never was called in HS because coach felt that a hitter who could not catch up with his fastball, the change up might be within his ability to hit. At time made perfect sense and coach was right as far as throwing fastball by most of them.

 

If he ends of at less talented competition. Just be sure to work on and develop the off speed

Around GA the general consensus is Summer Baseball is where you will find the FAR better competition.  

As a side note, older members on the board....if this player does switch schools how does he have a health talk with a coach before he plays for the guy?  We have all heard the horror stories of a talented pitcher being overused on a team, especially on a weaker team than he typically plays on.

Just to throw another log on the fire...consider how you are prepping him for the "social" aspects of college...It is vastly different than the cocoon of home schooling or even private schools. Academics is priority 1.

I tend to agree, initially, with the select team coach...and...I also understand the value of a school team. Challenging decision. 

 

If he plays summer and fall travel, that should satisfy the "face good hitters" aspect.  The HS team experience will be a good opportunity for him to be a good teammate and leader under sometimes-less-than-ideal circumstances.  If he finds himself in spots where he and/or his team is dominating, he can work on locating various pitches with a guy in the box, being less concerned with the outcome.  This said, if the level of play is ridiculously poor, then other baseball options may be worth considering during those months. 

Another challenge you will need to face and plan for is scheduling proper rest over the course of the next few years.  There will always be another big tourney, travel event, showcase, tryout, etc.  You will need to learn to plan ahead, schedule and be willing to say "sorry, this is his rest period".  Then give sufficient time to ramp back up.

FWIW, we faced the decision of where to go to HS: large public with good baseball, exposure, many social opportunities but limited ability to sculpt a good academic path or a small private with awful baseball and insular social life, but small advanced classes and an administration which would develop academic curriculum on essentially an individual basis.  S is a LHP and he chose (much to our relief) the private school option.

I believe the lesser baseball competition did effect his development - but in the grand scheme of an entire life, didn't deflect the path of his baseball career noticeably.  He ended up at a D1 high academic school, played for four years, graduated with a legit major, had one successful season (his last), played in Northwoods and the Cape, spent one summer in NYC working for MLB, accepted an offer for a permanent job from a plethora of offers in his chosen area, and is still playing (the prospective employer said to call, when playing was over). 

IMO, education drives the bus - in HS and beyond. As others have noted, there are plenty of opportunities during the HS years to face higher end competition. I'd say go the HS option which open up better college options (academically and ultimately jobs).

Jmho for position players competition is very important. For pitcher? Well hitting a spot with as much velocity as you can muster is the same no matter who's in the box.  The only thing that helps is learning what to pitch to better hitters but hey don't coaches call all the pitches now a days anyway. 

Following up on the last post by SCOTT83 - Does anyone have some insight into the pros and cons of coaches calling pitches?  I am interested in the various levels starting in high school or age equivalent (assuming that is when you truly start having multiple options).  I have always heard that in MLB there is often a split between pitchers and catchers as to who "calls" the shots - not an ego thing but rather which player generally does a better job scouting the hitters while understanding the capabilities of the pitcher at hand.  20176 currently pitching varsity and there seems to have been some "learning curve" on both sides with coach calling every pitch.  While they seem in sync these days, the early games had 2017 throwing some pitches that he would not have chosen (either based on circumstances and/or his touch that particular day).

I suspect in college it stays with the coach making the calls based largely on scouting but would be interested to hear about any programs where they turn over the calls to the pitcher.  Mostly talking about starting pitchers here who may have to go through the rotation more than once - not flame throwing relievers who may only have a single pitch.

Iron sharpens Iron - That being said, i suspect "most" kids who are seeking D1 scholarships or access to playing on D1 college teams are in it for the baseball first. One, as the dream and continuing to chase it to the Milb or MLB and secondarily the challenge/competitiveness to succeed and impact your character, i would suspect less are taking critically difficult majors with post-graduate-baseball income as the primary focus. If yours is...kudos to you.

I would be curious to understand the %/ratio of Power 5 teams that have highly academic student athletes (baseball players). I know there are expectations for team GPA and the importance of that in regards to eligibility and monies extended via the NCAA. I think it would be less than D3s of course.

I am not talking about a 3.0 GPA in basket weaving. I'm talking about engineering, finance/mathematics which are the degrees that translate to higher levels of income instantly once you graduate. 13 of the top 15 paying majors (several show ties in salary) are engineering based, and the two others are Actuarial Mathematics and Computer Science/Mathematics.

I welcome any and all feedback, for the record...my son would be one of the "Dream-Chasers" in regards to the BIGS and is probably less focused the long view after college baseball. I believe kids need to prepare for life after college but also believe that this is the time to chase your dreams. We'll see how that works out.

 

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