A Pitcher too good for Little League "Minors"


#1

I’m a manager of a Little League “minors” team ages 8-11. Today we faced a 10 year old that pitched so fast not only was it completely unfair, our kids literally couldn’t get the bat around fast enough to hit the ball off him. This completely defeated the purpose of a “developmental” league, while posing a safety risk to our players. Player’s parents have approached me with their concerns of safety issues to the point of refusing to have their child bat against him. The other managers in the league agree that he is too good/fast to pitch in this age group, but our Majors league is full, and cannot accept another player. At least that’s what I’m told.

I didn’t clock this 10 year old, but I would guess he’s pitching 60+mph. His team of course is undefeated, and his manager has no qualms about mowing down the opposition to secure a win. Even prior to facing this apparent phenom, our team was recently plagued with batters being afraid of the ball, and we are coaching them hard to stay in the box. We had players, the younger ones, nearly in tears, terrified to face this kid. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be the first Dad to tell my kid to stand in there, to take it, but this is a different matter all together.

Bottom line… This kid needs to be in the majors. He poses a safety risk to players just learning the game. Is there any recourse for us in preventing this kid from pitching, potentially physically hurting the batters, and in the process psychologically impairing them and their ability to face a pitcher in the future?


#2

This is a very touchy subject. First, the 10yo who pitches fast has done nothing wrong and should not be discriminated against. On the other hand, the strength and abilities can vary greatly between 9, 10 and 11 year olds (although I thought minors was just for 9 and 10yo’s) so the safety of the younger and weaker players is understandably a concern. I’m not sure there is really a case here. But if all parties agree it would be best for everyone if this 10yo played in the Majors, it seems there should be some way to create an exception.

Little League is an organization with local, district, state and national levels. And I believe there is protocol for elevating issues up the chain. Start with your local league board and discuss the issue there. If you don’t feel things are handled properly at that level, then take it to the next level up.


#3

Hi Roger. Thanks for the reply. Yeah I know it’s touchy. Our minors is 8-11 and there’s even one 7 year old in the league. Majors is 10-12. At this point the parties don’t agree. The phenom pitcher’s parents are reveling in the big fish in little pond syndrome, his manager wants him to stay, and he does as well.

Thank you for your advice, I have reached out with emails to the district, and national level to see what options I have. Our league board is less than pro active and I’m sure wont do anything. I’m researching my option for when they do nothing.

Any other input is much appreciated.


#4

If the kid is 10 and is not cheating it is not unfair.
I think you are confusing fair with even.
He is better than everyone he is facing.
Perfectly fair.


#5

I have mixed feelings on this so I’ll post them in two different paragraphs.

8-11 is an absurdly large range. Why so? Are volunteers in short supply? Are there not enough kids to build leagues with narrower age ranges? 8 year olds are not usually equipped to deal with that kind of speed and really should be playing coach or machine pitch unless they are exceptionally developed. It sounds like this pitcher has another year in minors should he choose. He should move into majors now where the competition will be better and he will be able to learn to pitch. What are the real safety concerns and how have you and the protective parents addressed them? I would consider asking the league to require one level more protective safety ball when he pitches. I would require players to wear a helmet with mask and cup when they face him and teach them the proper way to get plunked. The other managers could agree to all forfeit the games against this team if he takes the mound or unless he is moved up. It would put a lot of pressure on the league to move him up. The league being full is a pat excuse to not move a kid. Put him on the majors team with the worst record. They need him.

The following is for 9 and ten year olds. It could also apply to exceptional eight year olds who probably already have the mentality to overcome obstacles. I have no real fix for a poorly constructed league.

It is not against the rules to throw the ball hard. If you play baseball there will be one or more of these guys in every league. He likes that you are afraid of him. His parents like it too. Learn to get past the fear. Honestly, if a player has a helmet with a mask and a cup, I do not believe a 60 mph pitch will do any lasting physical damage to a batter. The majority of 9 and 10 year olds and their parents should learn to deal with the opportunity to overcome a difficult situation. I realize that is not a popular point of view, but life will be hard for these little fellows should they ever escape mommy and daddy’s clutches. Learning that pain doesn’t kill them is good for them.

Best regards,

Jekyll and Hyde Ted


#6

First, let me agree with everyone who states the 10 yo has done nothing wrong. He is much further along throwing-wise than his peers and shouldn’t be made to feel bad about it. Second, the other kids being intimidated by the velocity is normal, and finally, by rallying adults around the unfairness of this 10 yo, the other kids will pick this up and the fear/intimidation will be made worse.

The adults involved need to teach these kids to handle the fear and not feed it. There is nothing wrong with being mowed down in a Little League game.

What will eventually happen if this alternate track is taken is the kids will rise to the challenge, and slowly, become more confident in their ability to overcome. They will see their peers do it and learn they can do it too.

Easier posted in a comment thread than done.


#7

I’ll disagree with most of the posters here.

A child should play at the level of ball that is appropriate for his skill and maturity. Based on this, this hard-throwing 10-y/o clearly ought to be playing in the Majors division.

Everyone is worse off with this kid dominating the lower ages. His teammates are not getting the fielding reps they need to improve. The kid is not being challenged with competition that’s appropriate for him, and I’m sure he’s facing extreme stress on his arm, with the combination of far-above-average velocity and the natural tendency of coaches to overuse their aces.

Opposing batters have it the worst. 8-year-old batters fresh out of coach pitch don’t learn how to face hard pitching by having hard pitching blow past them. That’s just a recipe for fear and a performance-killing lack of confidence. Kids need to learn how to hit off of softer pitching and gradually work up to higher speeds.

Getting promoted to Majors is not punishing this kid for his ability; it is simply placing him at a level of competition that is appropriate for him.

Apparently, there is a gap between what would be best (promoting this kid to Majors) and what can actually be done. I’m not sure why this is… IMO, Little Leagues can be political and corrupt. Perhaps this kid’s parents have a lot of sway with the board…?


#8

[quote=“jmcamjr”]I’m a manager of a Little League “minors” team ages 8-11. Today we faced a 10 year old that pitched so fast not only was it completely unfair, our kids literally couldn’t get the bat around fast enough to hit the ball off him. This completely defeated the purpose of a “developmental” league, while posing a safety risk to our players. Player’s parents have approached me with their concerns of safety issues to the point of refusing to have their child bat against him. The other managers in the league agree that he is too good/fast to pitch in this age group, but our Majors league is full, and cannot accept another player. At least that’s what I’m told.

I didn’t clock this 10 year old, but I would guess he’s pitching 60+mph. His team of course is undefeated, and his manager has no qualms about mowing down the opposition to secure a win. Even prior to facing this apparent phenom, our team was recently plagued with batters being afraid of the ball, and we are coaching them hard to stay in the box. We had players, the younger ones, nearly in tears, terrified to face this kid. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be the first Dad to tell my kid to stand in there, to take it, but this is a different matter all together.[/quote]

Wow! I’ve been there, except at the other end of the spectrum, and the age was 12, not 10. At 10, my son played Majors. He was the 1st pick in the draft, pitched three innings in the All star game, and batted 4th.

At 12, the league petitioned Williamsport to throw him out of the league for the reasons you stated. Kids who crowded the plate would get their hands fractured or broken, younger kids - mainly 10-year olds playing up to appease their parents - would duck into the ball goinf over the plate. A kid got a concussion from doing that. Williamsport’s response was that he was 12 years old, lived within the District, and did nothing wrong. The umpires swore an affidavate that the pitches that hurt the other boys were strikes, and the pitches were not wild. Williamsport ruled that he must play if he wants to.

Some compromises were reached: my son would only throw change ups. This gave some competitive balance. Our local Little League added some rules that allowed a player not to bat against him if they were scared, and that the league must provide elbow, knee and head-guard protection to any kid who asked.

Lessons learned – The kid needs to be in the Majors. My son is still haunted by his experience as a 12-year-old . . . adults rushing out to the mound swearing up and down for his removal; his friend laying on the ground from a concussion from being hit by a pitch - a pitch that was called a strike but his friend was soo scred he ducked into the pitch; three players leaving a tournament game from being hit on the hands - on strikes thrown on the inside part of the plate. He doesn’t pound the inside part of the plate anymore. If he hits someone now, all he thinks about is not hitting the next guy, and not wanting to hurt anyone.

The parent of this child needs to know the potential consequences of what goes on in a kids mind if he does accidently hurt another player. And sport psychologists to get over this are not cheap!

This child has every right to play in the Minors, and the parents need to support him. These kids don’t come often. But, just because he has the right doesn’t mean it is the best thing for him. In retrospect, I would have moved him up to 14U when he was 12. Now that he’s 14, he’s playing 16U and enjoying the game much more.

Yes.

yes

No. Don’t put the pressure on the child. Reason with the parents and explain what the child could go through if he gives a friend a concussion. I’ve been there. There’s nothing the parent can say when another child is laying on the ground, out cold, and your child is on the mound crying. It doesn’t matter if the pitch was a strike and the batter was at fault. Everyone will blame the pitcher. And the pitcher will carry the demon.


#9

West,

How hard was your son throwing at the time? I’d like to know how hard this fellow really is throwing. I saw kids cry before they faced my son in the minors equivalent. Nothing ever came of it though. Nice post.

Ted


#10

[quote=“Ted22”]West,

How hard was your son throwing at the time? I’d like to know how hard this fellow really is throwing. I saw kids cry before they faced my son in the minors equivalent. Nothing ever came of it though. Nice post.

Ted[/quote]

Cannot say exactly. Based off of what other kids who were clocked - low to mid 60’s at 10U; middle to upper 70s at 12U. At 14U he’s low 80s. He was the fastest kid in the league at 10. His 1st game in the majors was a no-hitter.

Didn’t pitch much this spring due to the demons. Started the season as the #3 guy on a very strong JV team, until he hit the 1st three guys to start the 2nd inning in a game. Coach lost confidence in him. All he was thinking about was not hurting the hitter, his eyes would focus on the hitter, and the pitch followed where his eyes went.


#11

Mid 70s at 46’ is very tough to deal with. I doubt I would have let my son go to the plate against that. Your son sounds like a compassionate fellow and I wish him every success in overcoming his fear of hurting other players.

Best regards,

Ted


#12

[quote=“Ted22”]Mid 70s at 46’ is very tough to deal with. I doubt I would have let my son go to the plate against that. Your son sounds like a compassionate fellow and I wish him every success in overcoming his fear of hurting other players.

Best regards,

Ted[/quote]

Thanks Ted.


#13

[quote=“bbrages”]I’ll disagree with most of the posters here.

A child should play at the level of ball that is appropriate for his skill and maturity. Based on this, this hard-throwing 10-y/o clearly ought to be playing in the Majors division.

Everyone is worse off with this kid dominating the lower ages. His teammates are not getting the fielding reps they need to improve. The kid is not being challenged with competition that’s appropriate for him, and I’m sure he’s facing extreme stress on his arm, with the combination of far-above-average velocity and the natural tendency of coaches to overuse their aces.

Opposing batters have it the worst. 8-year-old batters fresh out of coach pitch don’t learn how to face hard pitching by having hard pitching blow past them. That’s just a recipe for fear and a performance-killing lack of confidence. Kids need to learn how to hit off of softer pitching and gradually work up to higher speeds.

Getting promoted to Majors is not punishing this kid for his ability; it is simply placing him at a level of competition that is appropriate for him.

Apparently, there is a gap between what would be best (promoting this kid to Majors) and what can actually be done. I’m not sure why this is… IMO, Little Leagues can be political and corrupt. Perhaps this kid’s parents have a lot of sway with the board…?[/quote]

I’m always a supporter of playing up to a level where the kid doesn’t dominate. Hard to say here without knowing all the details. It sounds like on the mound he’s ready for majors, but can he: hit, field a grounder, run down a fly? It’s hard to keep up on every aspect of the game when you’re playing up too far. I’d hate to see the kid hitting last and sitting on the bench whenever he’s not pitching.

I’ve had that result with my kid. Mine’s strength is his bat. Back as a 7U he got invited to play a high level 9U tourney out of town. He hit the hell out of the ball all weekend, but almost entirely as a DH. I think he played 2 innings in the OF all weekend. Ok for one weekend, but I wouldn’t want him forced to play at that level all the time because someone thinks he hits too hard for his own age group.


#14

This is why I am glad that we are able to play USSSA. More separation by age and ability, and more appropriate pitching distances. 9 and 10s pitch from 46ft, 11 and 12’s from 50ft. If a player is good then there are opportunities for the player to move up from rec to A to AA to AAA or Majors. If the team is winning tournaments because of this one player then USSSA will move the whole team up in classification.

I know every city does not have a USSSA organization and Little League has done great things, but in my opinion the pitching distances and shorter base paths in LL are a contributing factor to a lot of the injury issues that have made the news.

It would be nice if the major youth baseball organizations could get together and settle on standard field sizes and rules. It would be great if all of the organizational “World Champions” could be brought together for one weekend on ESPN!

We are lucky here in Kansas City. This weekend there is the 2nd largest youth tournament in the US with over 500 teams across all age groups and abilities playing all over the West and South side of the Kansas City Metro area. We play 12AA and there are 34 teams playing in our age bracket alone.


#15

A very long time ago I was in Indiana and in the back of my motel was this municipal park. On that park were at least 100 youngsters of all ages, along with other adults and an assortment of people with clipboards.
I asked the desk clerk “what’s up with the gathering”. She told me it was tryouts for the town’s baseball league. It seemed odd to me at the time that youngsters of different age spans were put on the same club, or so it seemed.

I mean youngsters that looked like they were 12 playing on the same club as those that looked like they were 14, and so on. I took my takeout dinner around the motel property and sat on a wooden bleacher and started asking about the tryout.

It seems that someone in the town had the concerns of what’s being expressed here. Then someone suggested to do what the pro’s do – fill teams by talent, not age - but within reason.

At first I was a little taken back by this move – I mean putting a 12 year old with a 14 year old seemed a bit of a stretch. But, as I watched the process, things made a lot of sense. Clubs were actually fielded based on pure talent, not age. Good fielders, good catchers, good pitchers, and good hitters all seemed to gel. On the other hand, I didn’t see much in the way of friendships, loyalties, and such. Things were pretty much all business with these youngsters. Too bad to, those youngster seemed like a nice bunch.

Then these groups separated and had scrimmage games, and then things became a lot clearer. I could see how that system worked, and worked well right out of the starting gate.

I will admit that there were ample adults who made the selection worked. They seem to know what they were doing and because of that – among other things, things seem to go smoothly.

I will openly admit that I don’t know squat about youth baseball. I don’t understand the coaching process, selection and management of youth baseball. But I do know what works when I see it. Now I could be way off base on this, but the ranking and filling club rosters via talent, not age, seems reasonable. On the other hand I would never suggest allowing a 10 year old to take a roster spot on an age gap of 16-18 year olds. Again, just an observation without any real hands-on long term youth baseball experience.


#16

I remember reading some time ago about a similar situation in which a kid who was very advanced for his age was being held back in Little League and forced to play with kids who were not at his level simply because he was just eight years old. Ridiculous, isn’t it? holding him back for purely social reasons. I said it then and I say it now—bullcrap. If a kid can play at a higher level he should be allowed to do so, and it would provide a greater level of competition and opportunity for him, to play with others at his level or even a little more advanced. If he can cut it, why shouldn’t he? I say move him up to Little League majors and see what he can do. :baseballpitcher:


#17

That child needs to move up to majors.
I’m sure mommy and daddy love the fact that junior is blowing away the “competition”. Except the fact that he isn’t playing against competition.

A kid like this needs to be playing majors or travel ball. There is no benefit to his playing developmental ball at that age. Again, except for ego sake.

I was informed that my son at 12 would not be allowed to pitch at all in a fall rec league. At the time he was a 12U Majors pitcher who wanted to play with his friends while travel ball was slow. Following tryouts I was informed that my son would be allowed to play, but not pitch and he had to play with the 13-14 year old division. He, not I, decided not to play and chose to use the off time to train with his PC.

I saw the league officials point, my son saw their point. Neither of us liked it at the time, but now 5 years later we still laugh at the situation from time to time.