So...my son has been pitching for a couple of years. He's in 8th grade, playing on his high school team. in the past, he's expressed a desire to catch, but because of his birthday he has typically been one of the younger (smaller) kids on his teams.

Fast forward to high school, the 5 catchers in the baseball program seem to be the smaller framed players, so this has reignited his interest in catching. He tells me that he wants to catch to become a better pitcher, learn more about game strategy and be able to size up batters.

My questions...

Will it negatively affect his pitching? IE arm motion, squatting affecting delivery, etc.

From a coaches standpoint, does a kid that plays all the infield positions make him more valuable, or should he settle down to be a pitcher only, with a relatively low impact second position like SS/2B?

Thanks

 

Original Post

Generally, by HS it's rare for a player to catch and pitch and do both effectively.  Catcher's usually have a short throw for the pick off throw to 2nd (Ie, they don't bring their arm all the way back - usually throw from the ear).  Catching is tough on the knees/legs due to squatting much of the time.  Even if he doesn't pitch the same day as catching, the effect can still be felt.

If your son wants to catch, that's fine.  He just needs to realize he may have to give up pitching.  It's one of those times most players can't do both well.

HS coaches do like a player that can play multiple positions but if he wants to play college level ball (D1, D2, D3, NAIA, JuCo) they generally are looking up the middle of the field (catcher, pitcher, middle infield, & CF) and that they have the skill set and tools.  I hardly call SS/2B a low impact position.  Other than the pitcher and catcher, middle infield is the next most active position(s).

FYI - my son played catcher, 3B, 1B in HS and was recruited as a 1B for JuCo.  After two years of  JuCo, he received a nice scholarship from a D2 to also play 1B.  Just shows you don't have to play "up the middle" to get recruited for college ball.  It helped that he had good skill sets (hitting, fielding, throwing).

My boy was a RHP/C right up until high school when his travel coach (a well accomplished RHP) told him he needed to choose. His biggest issue was, not only the different mechanics, but the wear on the arm.  No position on the field throws the ball more than the pitcher and catcher by far. That repetition is a recipie for overuse and injury. Since entering HS (he's a 2018), he has been a RHP/OF and that's done quite well for him.

Good luck!

Catching to be a better P makes no sense. My son caught and P until age 13 when we saw that catching was a contact position at times so we had him stop because his P abilities were better and didn't want to worry about injuries, which he had a few minor ones. 

son also moved from SS/3B  to outfield when not P which he loved. He got in the long toss he needed. 

With 5 catchers in program how much playing time would son get? The fact that he can play Inf  positions will get him more time. 

 

Be careful for what you wish.   We are in a small school (400 HS kids) so the talent depth is shallow.  My son catches and pitches and to be honest I don't see his catching form interfering with this pitching form.   My biggest concern is that in tournaments or playoffs he will pitch one game and catch the next.  Not only arm fatigue but the squatting takes a toll on your legs which are instrumental in pitching.   During the season it's not a big deal because we play 2 games per week. 

So the 1st round playoff (3 game series) my son will be the starting pitcher on Friday and then catch the following day.   Now if our team was very good I can't imagine him keeping up this load throughout the playoffs.  

Since we are the 4th seed playing the 1st seed in another district there is a good chance our season comes to an end anyway after the weekend.  

I would like to see the new UIL rules on pitch count to eventually restrict a pitcher from catching also within the same days of rest. 

playball2011 posted:

Catching to be a better P makes no sense. My son caught and P until age 13 when we saw that catching was a contact position at times so we had him stop because his P abilities were better and didn't want to worry about injuries, which he had a few minor ones. 

son also moved from SS/3B  to outfield when not P which he loved. He got in the long toss he needed. 

With 5 catchers in program how much playing time would son get? The fact that he can play Inf  positions will get him more time. 

 

My son is also a 2020 8th grader, who pitches and catches.  He says that being a catcher has allowed him to be a better hitter.  When you call for a specific pitch and you see it over and over again, how it moves, what the pitchers arm looked like, the spin...etc...well he swears it allows him better pitch recognition and he does have the lowest strike out percentage on the team...so he may have a point.

I will say that getting into catching in 8th grade is going to be difficult.  Catchers have to move in ways that are contrary to how people normally move, and it usually takes years to get use to it.  When you are a SS fielding the ball you can go with the flow of where the ball takes you, when you are a catcher trying to block the ball you have a split second for your brain to tell you how far to slide, how low to get, how to fall for the block.  I have seen my son have to slam down to the ground on his knees for one pitch, for the next pitch he had to jump a foot in the air.  This coordination of how to move your body is not an overnight thing.  It takes years of repetitiveness and you have to think about 1000 things as opposed to the 2B who only has to think of 100 things.

The catcher needs to be possibly the most athletic kid on the team.  He has to be a true athlete with quick reflexes and not just be quick because he is little.  If he really has a passion for trying out the position I say let him, maybe when the team is up 15-0 in a game the coach will let him have a shot, but borrow someone else's gear, unless you can drop $300+ on your kids whim.

CaCO3Girl posted:
playball2011 posted:

Catching to be a better P makes no sense. My son caught and P until age 13 when we saw that catching was a contact position at times so we had him stop because his P abilities were better and didn't want to worry about injuries, which he had a few minor ones. 

son also moved from SS/3B  to outfield when not P which he loved. He got in the long toss he needed. 

With 5 catchers in program how much playing time would son get? The fact that he can play Inf  positions will get him more time. 

 

My son is also a 2020 8th grader, who pitches and catches.  He says that being a catcher has allowed him to be a better hitter.  When you call for a specific pitch and you see it over and over again, how it moves, what the pitchers arm looked like, the spin...etc...well he swears it allows him better pitch recognition and he does have the lowest strike out percentage on the team...so he may have a point.

I will say that getting into catching in 8th grade is going to be difficult.  Catchers have to move in ways that are contrary to how people normally move, and it usually takes years to get use to it.  When you are a SS fielding the ball you can go with the flow of where the ball takes you, when you are a catcher trying to block the ball you have a split second for your brain to tell you how far to slide, how low to get, how to fall for the block.  I have seen my son have to slam down to the ground on his knees for one pitch, for the next pitch he had to jump a foot in the air.  This coordination of how to move your body is not an overnight thing.  It takes years of repetitiveness and you have to think about 1000 things as opposed to the 2B who only has to think of 100 things.

The catcher needs to be possibly the most athletic kid on the team.  He has to be a true athlete with quick reflexes and not just be quick because he is little.  If he really has a passion for trying out the position I say let him, maybe when the team is up 15-0 in a game the coach will let him have a shot, but borrow someone else's gear, unless you can drop $300+ on your kids whim.

I'm going to have to disagree with CaCO3Girl on this one. There are so many examples of catchers who took it up in college or after turning pro (Buster Posey, Carlos Ruiz, Mike Piazza, etc.), that I don't think 8th grade is in any way "late." Just by way of example, one of the two catchers getting playing time at UCLA this year is a true freshman who was a high school infielder that UCLA converted to catcher this year -- and he's gotten 16 starts at catcher.

So if he wants to become a catcher, go for it. But catching and pitching is tough combination.

I catch and pitch and only started catching regularly in the Spring/Summer of 2015. If he's committed to getting better and actually wants to play the position I'd say it's worth it to give him a shot. I saw some of the above comments regarding how catching skills take years and years behind the dish to develop, but if your son has a high baseball IQ and a natural feel for the game he'll catch on quickly. I've found that it is very much a reactionary position as much as it is an anticipatory position. Just my $.02

E

edit: worth noting that I've only pitched one inning this year and if I don't catch I play corner outfield or middle infield. Full time pitcher as well as being "a whenever I'm not pitching catcher" is a pretty ludicrous idea.

We went through almost the same thing with my 2017 when he was an incoming Freshman.  He was an OF/P with a strong arm and then the Varsity coach saw his Freshman team with two poor catching options and suggested to my son he would have a better chance of playing more as a C (he had caught some in Pony but it had been two years).  So what I did was make a deal with him that we would buy some basic used catcher's gear for his Freshman season, and if he still wanted to catch and the coach wanted him too after that season, we'd get better equipment.  He was also a good pitcher but the coach resisted using him much that season as a Pitcher because he really needed him as a catcher and the team had good pitching options.

Flash forward to his Soph and Junior seasons and he has been exclusively a Catcher for his HS team.  But on his Summer and Fall travel teams he does both.  The travel coach knows never to have him do both in the same day.  Knock on wood but he has not had any arm troubles.  He is aware of the different throwing mechanics and stays within himself pretty well.  But I will add that every chance we get to send him to a Catcher's camp he has gone to learn the position.  I never knew how hard it was until I watch these camps and see all of the techniques taught.  You cannot just become a strong catcher defensively--it takes a lot of work and bruises to get there.  Being quick and athletic is a key now to catching--the old model of the heavy set catcher is dying.

For us we have no idea if the dual option of a Catcher/RHP will be attractive to colleges.  He is attending several camps and showcases this Summer and hopes to be able to show off both.  I hear the people who are saying at some point he will have to choose one, but for now, the option of both may interest a school short of open positions to offer and needing flexibility.  I remember what the Stanford coach said at their Pitcher/Catcher camp, and he told him do not give up on one of them until you have to--the more options you present to a college, the better your chances. 

So I would say give it a try for a year and see what happens.  It might wind up being the best baseball decision he ever made.

As someone noted there are name catchers who didn't catch until college. Bob Boone was an All American third baseman at Stanford. The Phillies made him a catcher in the minors. Blake Swihart was drafted for his athleticism and moved to catcher in the minors. 

I've seen a few middle infielders and centerfielders moved to catcher in high school. They have the hands and the arm.

Pitching and catching? Not a good idea for the arm or the legs.

You will not see a P/C in college. Possey was a SS I believe in HS. 

This kids HS team already has 5 catchers, unless he's amazing he won't be a catcher there. 

To the dad whose son is in HS and a starting P on Fri then catching the Sat game.  WHY r u allowing that? The coach is only thinking of winning a game, not what's best for your sons arm.

If this kid is a good P I would not let him start catching too. You'll have to deal w coaches like this one that will abuse arm.

RJM posted:

As someone noted there are name catchers who didn't catch until college. Bob Boone was an All American third baseman at Stanford. The Phillies made him a catcher in the minors. Blake Swihart was drafted for his athleticism and moved to catcher in the minors. 

I've seen a few middle infielders and centerfielders moved to catcher in high school. They have the hands and the arm.

Pitching and catching? Not a good idea for the arm or the legs.

RJM, the OP said there were 5 catchers and his kid was on the small side.  You and the other posters are talking about turning a highly athletic player into a catcher....I think that's a bit different than picking up the gear in 8th grade and beating out 5 guys for the job while trying to pitch.

playball2011 posted:

You will not see a P/C in college. Possey was a SS I believe in HS. 

This kids HS team already has 5 catchers, unless he's amazing he won't be a catcher there. 

To the dad whose son is in HS and a starting P on Fri then catching the Sat game.  WHY r u allowing that? The coach is only thinking of winning a game, not what's best for your sons arm.

If this kid is a good P I would not let him start catching too. You'll have to deal w coaches like this one that will abuse arm.

Posey was the shortstop at FSU. Rod Delmonico was fired as head coach at Tennessee. He was buddies with Marrtin. He became an assist. His son was an all SEC shortstop at Tennesee. He transferred to FSU with his dad. The FSU catcher graduated. Posey was moved to catcher.

 

 

FoxDad posted:

...Catcher's usually have a short throw for the pick off throw to 2nd (Ie, they don't bring their arm all the way back - usually throw from the ear).  Catching is tough on the knees/legs due to squatting much of the time.  

Yeah, that's my fear, (I'm a little biased, sorry) he has a sweet, deceptive delivery and while his 4-seam is at about 75, his money pitch is a sinker and his change up...I don't want to mess that up with an injury or confusing his mechanics. Thank

playball2011 posted:

With 5 catchers in program how much playing time would son get? The fact that he can play Inf  positions will get him more time.

Sorry, should have specified...the five catchers are as of right now, not counting 1 graduating and 1 expected to transfer, leaving 3...1 varsity, 2 JV. Thanks for the

Backstop22 posted

.... But on his Summer and Fall travel teams he does both.  The travel coach knows never to have him do both in the same day. 

...Being quick and athletic is a key now to catching--the old model of the heavy set catcher is dying.

That's good advice, his travel ball coach and HS know each other... I agree, all the catchers I see now are athletes.

He is one of the more athletic kids on his travel team and even though he is almost the youngest on his HS team, he has nearly the fastest 40 times with great range and a wicked arm.

Thanks for the advice

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