My 9-yr old son is playing AAA-level All Star Minor Mosquito. He's pitched for (2) years (left-hand pitcher), and has a good fastball (I'd estimate low 50 mph range when he's throwing well) & has a great changeup that takes its toll on batters, especially when thrown low (this keeps things deceptive).
Here's the conundrum.
We were talking about Daisuke Matsuzaka's supposed "gyro ball" a few weeks ago, and my point was that a pure "bullet" spin would not cause the ball to break (this would render rifling on firearms barrels quite useless, but that's another topic). For kicks, we tossed a few to see if the spin was easily done and with what ball action, and we managed a few with no results, and soon (or so I thought) forgot about it.
Segue to present:
A few games ago my son pitched quite well against the 2nd place team in his AAA league (we're 1st), and had quite a few K's. He casually mentioned he'd thrown a "gyroball" against one leftie, and the kid grounded out weakly because the ball broke away from his bat on the swing. I was both concerned that he'd tried a breaking ball (I've stressed only fastballs & changeups for young players, for all the right reasons) and dubious he'd actually made the ball break.
Next day or two afterward, I asked him to show me his "gyro ball", after he'd been practicing. The spin was "gryo-like": imagine the ball coming at you spinning perfectly CLOCKWISE, and then tilted slightly forwards towards the catcher. The thing must have darted 6-8 inches to the left side of the plate! I was floored.
Quickly asked the lad how he threw it, as I saw nothing but arm issues resulting from this. But he simply took his 4-seam grip and just held it off-center to the left-side of the ball, and did a normal fastball release. At the bottom of his release (throwing 3/4 arm slot, more or less) his arm follows through and the thumb is left pointing slightly upwards, but he is adamant there is no twisting of the wrist as you'd do with a slider. And he's not throwing over & pulling down (curveball) as the pitch is practically full-speed; there's no off-speed velocity here, and the ball spins like crazy. I asked him to stick with the fastball/changeup until I had more info/advice on the topic.
Last night he tossed the thing twice in a row to a hitter (leftie), and the poor kid almost dislocated his arms on the 2nd pitch (3rd strike) trying to hit it; he wasn't even close. Even the team catcher was shaking his head after the 3rd pitch, and couldn't believe the ball break.
So: what should I do here, folks? My biggest fear is obviously risk of injury. But if this breaking ball is not dangerous because he's simply changing grips & delivering a "normal" fastball, then my other concern is he leans on it too much, & starts to neglect the fastball.
I'm rather wishing we'd never gone out to fool around with the gyro spin in the first place, but the horse is officially out of the barn.
We play in a Major Mosquito tourney this weekend (we're a Minor team) and my boy will be pitching. He's already asked for my OK to use this pitch "a couple of times if there are lefties at the plate", and it would certainly help with the older opposition.
Your thoughts? Comments? How should we deal with this?
sjd7aa at gmail d0t calm