Left handed velocity

Hello…my little brother is a left-handed pitcher and a freshmen in high school, he weighs 98 pounds and is 5’4". Recently, trying out for a club baseball team he was sitting at 67-68 with his fastball and topped out at 72 as a 14 year old. After tryouts he had a college pitching coach approach him and said he’d like to get him on a strict diet to get him up to 120 pounds by his high school baseball tryouts in March and have him throwing mid to upper 70’s.

The college coach went on to say that with his arm whip and how hard he is already throwing for his size that he has tremendous upside. My dad threw low 90’s as a high school senior and didn’t play organized baseball until he was 17. I’m a right handed pitcher and have played baseball my whole life but even at 6’3" and 170, I only topped out at 83 mph. I’m guessing that suggests that my little brother really has something special in his arm and most likely got the velocity gene from my father.

I guess my question is if my brother can stay on this strict diet and get up to 180-200 pounds by his senior season then what are the chances that he’ll be throwing mid to upper 90’s as a lefty? Also what are the chances he could get drafted out of high school like some of his coaches are suggesting?

I agree that, for the most part, mass=gas so gaining weight could help. With that said, some body types can gain weight easily and some cannot. There is simply more to gaining the type of weight this coach suggest than eating a magical diet. If your brother is post puberty, I would suggest a plan that includes training with the appropriate diet to support the physical training. Unless this college coach is a nutrionist I would proceed with extreme caution.

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Your question raises a bunch of issues.

  1. Who is this “college pitching coach”? If you can, check out his background and talk to some players who have trained with him (or their parents). You want to make sure he has a good track record and isn’t just fishing for clients by making pie-in-the-sky promises.

  2. At this stage, it’s impossible to know if your brother will be able to throw mid-to-high 90’s. Over time, training and better mechanics will improve his velocity, for sure. But as you seem to recognize, you’re either born with elite throwing potential or you aren’t. (Which doesn’t mean your brother can’t become a fantastic pitcher. It just means that the physical potential to throw mid-to-high 90’s is a special gift from God that not all of us are blessed with.)

  3. That said, if this college pitching coach is experienced and reputable, then he probably has a good eye for talent and his view of your brother’s potential should carry weight. It may be worth your brother’s time and effort to train seriously and attempt to reach elite levels. Just keep in mind that it’s a long road – it will probably take years of enormous effort before your brother knows his potential.

  4. Also, you might want to start “managing expectations.” A large majority of elite high school pitchers are not throwing mid-to-upper 90’s by their senior year. A fair number of MLB pitchers never reach those velocities. I would think that if your brother can reach low 90’s by his senior year, that woud generate serious recruiting interest as a lefty, particularly if he demonstrates strong command with at least two or three pitches. For example, Dax Fulton – a big lefty out of Oklahoma – is considered one of the top HS '20 draft prospects, and his fastball sits around 90-93. (It helps that Fulton also developed a decent curveball.) In any case, a prospect throwing low 90’s by his senior year has good potential to be throwing mid-90’s or better as his body fully matures. If your brother is consistently dominating against top-notch hitters his junior or senior year, I wouldn’t get hung up on throwing 95+.

  5. You are 6’3" and your dad threw low 90’s as a high school senior. That suggests your family’s gene pool can produce big, strong guys. Assuming your brother has the genes to be big and strong, there’s a good chance he can reach 180-200 lbs. by his senior year. The three keys to maximizing his size potential will be: (1) a well-designed strength and conditioning program – weights, sprinting, etc.; (2) nutrition – a balanced diet that includes tons of protein, nutrients and calories as the “building blocks” for the muscle his strength and conditiong program will produce; and (3) rest and recovery – taking periodic rest days and getting as much sleep as a busy teenager can get, ideally 9-11 hours a night. If you consult with knowledgable experts on training and nutrition, you’re likely to get solid advice on how your brother can reach his physical potential.

  6. What are your brother’s chances of getting drafted out of high school? Impossible to know. But if he ultimately becomes a 6’+, 180+ lbs. lefty who can throw at least low 90’s with two or three plus pitches in his arsenal, I like his chances. At a minimum, he’ll generate tons of recruiting interest from top D1 programs. (The college route would not be a bad way to go. Plenty of guys fill out in college and become much stronger by the end. Plus, your brother would get a degree, an asset for the rest of his life.)

Best of luck to your brother. You are a good guy to be looking out for him.

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