Move 8 Year Old Son Up?


#1

Hello,

I would appreciate advice regarding whether I should “move up” my son to a better Little League division.

My son is a lefty who turned 8 in October 2009. He’s big for his age (92nd percentile in height and weight), and a very good infielder and hitter. Also, I’ve worked with him on pitching (I pitched through high school), and have paid a few local pitching instructors to work with him a few times (I of course have adopted much of what the pitching instructors did with him). In short, as a pitcher he throws hard but is wild (probably to be expected of an 8 year old).

The Little League he plays in is well established, well organized, and competitive. The divisions he will be eligible to play in for the 2010 season (January through May) are:

Double A: 7 and 8 year olds, and 9 and 10 year olds who don’t get drafted into Triple A.

Triple A: A few 8 year olds who get drafted, and 9, 10, 11, and 12 year olds who don’t get drafted into Majors.

Last season my son played in Double A and batted and played the infield very well, and pitched just a few innings. Now, however, I have been told by many coaches and pitching instructors who have seen my son play or pitch that I should put him in Triple A next season. I have seen Triple A games and there is no doubt in my mind that my son can play up there.

However, my concerns with Triple A are safety (an 8 year old, though big, playing against 9,10,11, and 12 year olds), maturity (he’s very competitive and doesn’t handle failure well), and pitching (he’ll obviously pitch less in Triple A than in Double A).

My concerns with Double A, on the other hand, are that it has lots of bad players (a lot of 7 year olds coming out of Single A), players who aren’t in the game mentally (playing with ant piles in the outfield, etc.), and so my son may not develop as much in another season of Double A. The only benefit I see of another season in Double A is that I will be able to pitch him in at least one game per week and maybe two games per week (depending on his pitch counts), and so he’ll get a lot of experience pitching to live batters in game situations (more so than in Triple A).

My son says he wants to play Triple A.

Any thoughts on what I should do? In particular I would like to hear from those who have personal experience with this situation and have seen younger players “move up”.

Thanks.


#2

[quote=“FloridaDad”]Hello,

I would appreciate advice regarding whether I should “move up” my son to a better Little League division.

My son is a lefty who turned 8 in October 2009. He’s big for his age (92nd percentile in height and weight), and a very good infielder and hitter. Also, I’ve worked with him on pitching (I pitched through high school), and have paid a few local pitching instructors to work with him a few times (I of course have adopted much of what the pitching instructors did with him). In short, as a pitcher he throws hard but is wild (probably to be expected of an 8 year old).

The Little League he plays in is well established, well organized, and competitive. The divisions he will be eligible to play in for the 2010 season (January through May) are:

Double A: 7 and 8 year olds, and 9 and 10 year olds who don’t get drafted into Triple A.

Triple A: A few 8 year olds who get drafted, and 9, 10, 11, and 12 year olds who don’t get drafted into Majors.

Last season my son played in Double A and batted and played the infield very well, and pitched just a few innings. Now, however, I have been told by many coaches and pitching instructors who have seen my son play or pitch that I should put him in Triple A next season. I have seen Triple A games and there is no doubt in my mind that my son can play up there.

However, my concerns with Triple A are safety (an 8 year old, though big, playing against 9,10,11, and 12 year olds), maturity (he’s very competitive and doesn’t handle failure well), and pitching (he’ll obviously pitch less in Triple A than in Double A).

My concerns with Double A, on the other hand, are that it has lots of bad players (a lot of 7 year olds coming out of Single A), players who aren’t in the game mentally (playing with ant piles in the outfield, etc.), and so my son may not develop as much in another season of Double A. The only benefit I see of another season in Double A is that I will be able to pitch him in at least one game per week and maybe two games per week (depending on his pitch counts), and so he’ll get a lot of experience pitching to live batters in game situations (more so than in Triple A).

My son says he wants to play Triple A.

Any thoughts on what I should do? In particular I would like to hear from those who have personal experience with this situation and have seen younger players “move up”.

Thanks.[/quote]

Hi Florida! Welcome to TCP. I dont work here, but i do have some insight into your dilema.

I have a 10 yr old who is both big (currently 5’2" and 130 lbs) and athletically gifted. He has always been more skilled than most other kids his age, most likely becuase he grew up at a ball field of one sort or another from the time he was an infant. He played soccer, and baseball, and basketball, and was/is usually one of the most skilled players on his team.

We have done both with him, moving him up early, and not, and i suppose there are pros and cons to both. We moved him up early one year in soccer, and it almost ruined him on that sport. We kept him in Coaches Pitch as an 8 yr old, when he could have easily played minors, and it worked out fine.

I used to be a proponent of putting advanced kids in advanced leagues, but i have done a complete 180 on this subject and now believe that kids, especially kids that are 10 and under, should almost never be moved up. It sounds like you work with your kid alot. Most likely you are going to do that whether he players AA or AAA. Thats how he is going to develop his skill as a player, not at the practice/game or two or three a week that he will play in. So why put the stress of having to play up on him?

Baseball at this age should be fun, and whats more fun than being the Big Dog?

Im not being very coherant…i just got home from work. I will try again later after i sleep.


#3

[quote=“southcarolina”]Hi Florida! Welcome to TCP. I dont work here, but i do have some insight into your dilema.

I have a 10 yr old who is both big (currently 5’2" and 130 lbs) and athletically gifted. He has always been more skilled than most other kids his age, most likely becuase he grew up at a ball field of one sort or another from the time he was an infant. He played soccer, and baseball, and basketball, and was/is usually one of the most skilled players on his team.

We have done both with him, moving him up early, and not, and i suppose there are pros and cons to both. We moved him up early one year in soccer, and it almost ruined him on that sport. We kept him in Coaches Pitch as an 8 yr old, when he could have easily played minors, and it worked out fine.

I used to be a proponent of putting advanced kids in advanced leagues, but i have done a complete 180 on this subject and now believe that kids, especially kids that are 10 and under, should almost never be moved up. It sounds like you work with your kid alot. Most likely you are going to do that whether he players AA or AAA. Thats how he is going to develop his skill as a player, not at the practice/game or two or three a week that he will play in. So why put the stress of having to play up on him?

Baseball at this age should be fun, and whats more fun than being the Big Dog?

Im not being very coherant…i just got home from work. I will try again later after i sleep.[/quote]
Thanks for your input, SouthCarolina.

I tend to agree with you. I have been going back and forth on this issue for the past two months or so, and came to the conclusion that I should hold my son in AA one more year for two reasons: (1) so he can get plenty of innings pitched under his belt; and (2) if I let him go to AAA, while I would be a Coach, he would be under the control of an unknown Manager.

However, there is one fact I forgot to mention in my original post. After deciding a few weeks ago that I would keep my son in AA for the two reasons stated above, last week I got a phone call from a friend I coached with last season who will be Managing a AAA team in 2010. He said my son belongs in AAA (his son is 9 and played with my son last season), and he offered to bring me on as his AAA team’s Pitching Coach, meaning my son would automatically go on his team and both my son and I would under a Manager we know and trust.

It is this latest development that really has me tempted to go to AAA.

Any thoughts?

Thanks.


#4

I’ve been down this road before too- with my own son and observing others. Of the parents and kids that I know those that have kept their kids “in age” have never been disappointed- including us. Those who have “moved up” have had mixed success- in some cases actually hendering development.

With us the temptation was stronger at the younger ages where skill levels vary so much. As the kids get older the gap in skill level tends to get narrower. The more skilled kids are still more skilled, it’s just the others catch up a litlle.

One question I’d ask is where do most of his buddies play? At 8 it can be frustrating playing with kids that can’t catch but can be more fun if you’re with you’re buddies.

For better players and competition some people turn to travel ball. In my opinion 8 is a little too early for that. We started easing into it slowly at 10.

One final thought- with my boys we found that if the emphasis was on fun it didn’t matter where they played.


#5

SC you sounded coherent to me…

Fla does your son play in an older peer group? Is he aware of “older kids” and do they intimidate him or is he relaxed and “a part” of older guys?
I say that, with this in mind (Maybe I can make incoherent where SC made lucid :wink: ). I do not advise “moving up” unless it’s just so obvious/dangerous to keep them down. I think back as a kid and remember I was always around older kids (My brother was 3 yrs older) and so me playing more competitively at a young age wasn’t difficult, it seemed like the thing to do. Now after raising 2 son 10 yrs apart I can see it from a couple of angles. My first was nearly always “age” seperated, I was in the Navy so we moved a bit and mostly always played in his age group, he was comfortable there and played very competitively including a state PAL championship run with him as one of the pitchers and ss. It would, I believe have been a very difficult road to have him move up, though he quite easily could have…he was always a tall kid with a great hook, I think it would have suppressed his enjoyment of the game…though no doubt he would have gone through with it.
My youngest has stayed in the game now into college, he grew up with a brother who played (His 1st time on a field I think he was 2 months old) and he always wanted to play…he didn’t care who was on the field. His first memories of me and his brother was watching us play catch in the street (He said he loved to hear the ball sizzle :lol: ). He played up (Of course taking on his 6’3" brother from a young age also :lol:). He was comfortable, relaxed and competitive. He didn’t pitch until he was 11 (Well he threw the last game of the year)/12 is when he really became a pitcher. So as a rule I’d not rush a thing this early unless, like I said, things get dangerous. Fun and fundementals…it’s a small window, work on making it the happiest time and let him kind of move you.


#6

I think you have answered your own questions very well here, and others have chimed in with good, helpful advice, so I would just add a couple points.

On the safety issue: Note that as of 2007 LL mandates that all 12-y-o’s play Majors; the only 12’s playing any minors division of a genuine LL have been granted a waiver at their parents’ request. IOW, they are physically and/or mentally unable to play at the Majors level. So don’t worry about your kid playing with big bad 12’s. All the better 11’s should be in Majors too.

Playing time - a younger kid playing up in Majors can see a lot of time on the pine, but in minors LL mandates a continuous batting order, and most leagues have playing time rules, so an advanced 8 playing in your AAA will probably see as much playing time as anybody else.

All in all, in this case, I would play the kid up. Or rather, I would let the kid play at whatever level he was drafted.


#7

Thanks for the responses.

jp,

Answering your question, my son’s buddies will be in AA this year: (1) friends from last year’s AA team who will be returning to AA because there is no way they’ll make AAA; and (2) friends from his school who were in Single A last season but will be moving to AA this season, some on his AA team if he stays there. My son would have at least one friend on his AAA team, however: the 9 year old son of the Manager of the AAA team (who has asked me to be his AAA Pitching Coach). Both boys played on the same AA team last season and got along well.

jdfromfla,

Answering your question, my son has only older sisters, no brother, and he does not regularly play in an older boys peer group. Although, whenever he gets the chance, he’ll go right over to older boys (9, 10, 11) and play along. He has no fear.

quaff,

Thanks. You seem more convinced of the “move him up” route.

Right now, after reading all these helpful responses, my thinking is that if I am the Pitching Coach on his AAA team (I will be if I take my AAA Manager friend’s offer), I will be able to pitch my son only to the extent I feel it is appropriate for him. That would leave him to play the field (he has a great glove) and bat, and I could continue working on his pitching on the side (as I do anyway), pitching him as I see fit and perhaps leave the heavy AAA pitching for when he’s 9.

Please keep the responses coming, as registration is this Saturday and I will have to choose AA or AAA!


#8

OK im awake :slight_smile:

After re-reading your original post, i guess the choice for your son is between two different Minor leagues. If he truly is talented enough to play in the upper division, then i dont think it will scar him for life or anything. As long as he is able to cope with the increase in the amount of failure, and possibly reduction in playing time, he will experience by the jump in competition then i would move him up. Thats a big IF, and one you need to assess honestly with yourself. Dont give in to the idea that moving him up will cure his issues, whatever they may be. Marriage doesnt cure flawed relationships, and playing against better competition doesnt cure flawed players. If you are completely 100% sure he wont struggle with any emotional/psychological aspect of moving up, i’d do it. If there is even a little doubt, i wouldnt. Also, i would not factor in what he wants to do. If he is anything like my kid, he will jump at the chance to “play up” without really considering the ramifications. You make the decision. At least take that pressure off him. That way, if it turns into a disaster, you can say, “Hey son, I screwed up.”

One question though…you said your friend is managing a team, and that is factoring into your decision…is it a lock that he would be on his team? I mean is there any chance, even a small one, that he would be drafted by another coach?


#9

[quote=“southcarolina”]
One question though…you said your friend is managing a team, and that is factoring into your decision…is it a lock that he would be on his team? I mean is there any chance, even a small one, that he would be drafted by another coach?[/quote]
Yes to first question, no to second question.

My friend was one of my Assistant Coaches last season in AA (I was the Manager). He is now the AAA Commissioner and tells me that he will manage a AAA team and as Manager he can “lock in” one Coach (me), which means that Coach and that Coach’s son are automatically on the team – the son cannot be drafted by another team. Basically, the son of the “locked Coach” automatically becomes the team’s 6th draft pick.

It is only this certainty of my son being on a team with my former Coach as Manager and me as Pitching Coach that has me even considering AAA.

Thanks.


#10

[quote=“FloridaDad”][quote=“southcarolina”]
One question though…you said your friend is managing a team, and that is factoring into your decision…is it a lock that he would be on his team? I mean is there any chance, even a small one, that he would be drafted by another coach?[/quote]
Yes to first question, no to second question.

My friend was one of my Assistant Coaches last season in AA (I was the Manager). He is now the AAA Commissioner and tells me that he will manage a AAA team and as Manager he can “lock in” one Coach (me), which means that Coach and that Coach’s son are automatically on the team – the son cannot be drafted by another team. Basically, the son of the “locked Coach” automatically becomes the team’s 6th draft pick.

It is only this certainty of my son being on a team with my former Coach as Manager and me as Pitching Coach that has me even considering AAA.

Thanks.[/quote]

Heh we had to do away with the “locked in coach” in our league due to abuse. Coaches were choosing parents of the top tier kids as their asst coaches, even if they werent coaches, just to get the more talented kids. Now, you have to choose your asst coaches from the parents of the kids you draft.

But thats good for you, i guess. :slight_smile:


#11

Here, AAA limits each Manager to one “locked in” coach, so there can’t be much abuse.


#12

[quote=“FloridaDad”]Hello,

I would appreciate advice regarding whether I should “move up” my son to a better Little League division.

My son is a lefty who turned 8 in October 2009. He’s big for his age (92nd percentile in height and weight), and a very good infielder and hitter. Also, I’ve worked with him on pitching (I pitched through high school), and have paid a few local pitching instructors to work with him a few times (I of course have adopted much of what the pitching instructors did with him). In short, as a pitcher he throws hard but is wild (probably to be expected of an 8 year old).[/quote]

Welcome! I think you’ll find great advice hear that will help in your decision.

My youngest turned 10 this summer, appears to big for his age (5’2" 100lbs), and pitches well. We’ve fought this issue over the past several years. Whether we chose the correct path or not, only time will tell.

He played Minor as a 6-year old, and did well. We skipped LL when he was 7 and chose instead to play baseball in the back yard. Our reason he threw too hard and had no control, and he wouldn’t get the opportunity to improve. At 8 he played again, but limited his pitching to four innings. This was a bad year, as although he excelled, his team was poorly coached and concentrated only on the coaches son’s. Again, he threw too hard for his age group and without control. This past year he gained control, confidence and posture, and pitched very successfully (3:1 strikeout to walk ratio and 2.67 so/inning) in the Minors. He pitched again this Fall in the Minors. The League ruled he was too young to be in the Majors (i.e. politics). He had fun with his peers, but it wasn’t fun pitching. He overpowered the Minors to the point where the other team would not get into the batter box. He should’ve been moved up. The local LL is still hesitant to put him in the Majors next year, as they believe it is better to stay and grow up with his peers. An opportunity came up where he can play and pitch with a very competitive 11U Travel Team next year, so LL will be secondary.

An 8-yo can play with 9 and 10s, depending on their maturity level. As for pitching, at this age I think it is more important to develop good mechanics, delivery and control and have an opportunity to pitch regularly than to be promoted to an older league or promoting one’s ability. Can he pitch three or four solid innings? How does he handle bad calls or bias umpires? How do bad calls and bad fielding affect his pitching. Not being ruffled is a sign of maturity that stands out in the Minors.

It’s a parents decision. Holding back as we did until his emotional maturity and his physical maturity equalized benefited him. I wouldn’t hesitate to move him up if the coaches are fair and care for the kids.


#13

[quote=“shoshonte”]He should’ve been moved up . . .

So you would have moved your son up had they let you?

An 8-yo can play with 9 and 10s, depending on their maturity level. As for pitching, at this age I think it is more important to develop good mechanics, delivery and control and have an opportunity to pitch regularly than to be promoted to an older league or promoting one’s ability. Can he pitch three or four solid innings? . . .

He’s a wild, hard throwing, just-turned 8 year old, so, with the pitch count limits, there’s no way in hell he can go four innings (although physically he’s strong enough to do so). Frankly, last season in AA, my pitchers were 7 or 8 years old, with one 10 year old, and typically they lasted one or two innings, once in a while three innings.

It’s a parents decision. Holding back as we did until his emotional maturity and his physical maturity equalized benefited him. I wouldn’t hesitate to move him up if the coaches are fair and care for the kids . . .

[b]Right now my thinking is that with my Assistant Coach from my AA team last season being the Manager of the AAA team, and me being the Pitching Coach on that AAA team, the environment will be friendly and caring enough to justify moving my son up.

What really gnaws at me is that some of the 8 and 9 year olds I had last season on my AA team are now 9 and 10 and will be going to AAA, and they don’t hold a candle to my son. So why should my son stay behind and play with mostly bad players?[/b]

[/quote]


#14

Gnaws at me as well. I think you’re fortunate to be able to move him up and still be able to groom him to be better. That’s the best one can ask for.

I would add that my son’s fastball was better this Fall than during the summer, and playing against kids who were scared of his pitch allowed him to be comfortable and play with his change up. In the game where the other team refused to bat, he decided to throw change ups and working on location. He’s much more comfortable with the change up now than he would’ve been throwing straight fast balls. And he’ll need an off speed pitch next year for the 11U team.


#15

And that’s really the bottom line.

I had no plans to move my son up to AAA, as he would pitch many more innings in AA, but mostly because of the uncertainty over what team and coaches he would end up with (I’ve heard horror stories of kids giving up baseball at 9, 10, or 11 because of their AAA coaches).

But then, my Assistant Coach from my AA team last season called, after he finished Managing a 9 to 11 year old Fall Ball team this fall, said my son definitely belongs with the 9 to 11 year olds in AAA, said he will be Managing a AAA team next season, and offered to lock me in as his Pitching Coach and my son as the 6th draft pick (he’s allowed to “lock” one coach, and the son simply becomes the automatic 6th pick).

Which means that even if I move him up to AAA I would still have considerable control over his pitching.

I think it’s that – knowing who the Manager will be (my former Assistant Coach) and who the Pitching Coach will be (me) – that makes AAA attractive.

I’m less afraid of the challenges of AAA than I am of staying in AA with the less talented kids and regretting it.


#16

Keep the game fun and he won’t quit. :slight_smile:

In one of the games this Fall, we pulled my son after two inning 'cause it was no fun and the other team wouldn’t bat. He asked if he could catch. We let him. He’d never caught before, but he knew what to do. The first kid up walks. The next pitch my son throws the runner out at second. Now he was having fun. Throws another kid out at third. Now he’s really having fun. I think he was having more fun catching than pitching. The other coach wasn’t pleased. :cry: First, they couldn’t hit. Then they couldn’t run. :smiley:

It’s good to play multiple positions and not be tied into one position at this age. I would encourage him to play the other positions as well as working on the mechanics.


#17

No doubt.

My son actually has a great glove, playing well all infield positions last season in AA (e.g., in the playoffs he fielded 1.000). Indeed his fielding ability gives me the confidence that, yes, he will pitch less in AAA than in AA, but his glove will keep him on the field in AAA.

Right now I’m just waiting for the registration period to expire so that my Assistant Coach from AA will know whether he will be Managing a AAA team, in which case my son and I will be there. If not, my son will be doing an awful lot of pitching in AA, not a bad thing … except when you look over at the AAA game on the next field and wonder, “What if?”


#18

[quote=“southcarolina”]I used to be a proponent of putting advanced kids in advanced leagues, but i have done a complete 180 on this subject and now believe that kids, especially kids that are 10 and under, should almost never be moved up. It sounds like you work with your kid a lot. Most likely you are going to do that whether he plays AA or AAA. That’s how he is going to develop his skill as a player, not at the practice/game or two or three a week that he will play in. So why put the stress of having to play up on him? Baseball at this age should be fun, and whats more fun than being the Big Dog?

I’m not being very coherent…i just got home from work. I will try again later after i sleep.[/quote]
OK.

I’ve now gone 'round and 'round on this, from no to yes to no, from AA to AAA to AA.

And now, I’ve decided that southcarolina is actually very coherent and makes good sense.

I’m going to keep my 8 year old son in AA, with kids his age (7 - 10), and not allow him to move up to AAA (ages 9 - 12).

Why have him risk injury, ride the pine, and seldom pitch in AAA, when he can play with his friends, pitch at least one game per week, sometimes two games per week, and have a blast in AA?

You’re 8 only once, and I’m not willing to take that away from him.

Thanks to all for your helpful comments.


#19

I guess there is a first time for everything :smiley:

Let us know how it turns out.

sc


#20

[quote=“southcarolina”][quote=“FloridaDad”]
And now, I’ve decided that southcarolina is actually very coherent and makes good sense.

[/quote]
I guess there is a first time for everything :smiley:

Let us know how it turns out.[/quote]
Don’t sell yourself short!

Your point about my 8 year old son developing more as a pitcher through my working with him, and less through the few practices and games each week whether in AA or AAA, really struck a chord with me. Last season in AA, the players who developed well over the season were the ones who did plenty of extra work outside of the measly schedule of practices and games.

Also, as I read somewhere else on this site in a “moving up” thread, one of the factors that should always be present before “moving up” is that the player not lose too much playing time, as there is no substitute for playing time. Well, the difference in mound time between an 8 year old pitching in AA (7-10) and an 8 year old pitching in AAA (9-12) is going to be huge.

My son really wants to be a pitcher, and the lefty definitely has the arm and mechanics (according to two local pitching coaches who have worked with him – one a former D1 college pitcher/MLB scout and the other an AAU coach – and who were the ones who initiated the “moving up” idea). Still, it’s just not right to deprive my son of all that mound time he would get in AA.

Why? So he can run around telling all his friends in AA that he’s in AAA? Nah.

Which brings up a side issue. Although I was a high school pitcher, this is my first time bringing up a boy through Little League. For what it’s worth, my observation is that a lot of this “moving up” talk is by dads who think their boy is better than he really is.

I can’t tell you how many times last season, when I managed in AA, fathers (even my own coaches) told me how before the season they had thought about moving their boys up to AAA, how maybe they should have gone up as they would have made it, yadda yadda yadda.

Well, without exception, every one of those AA boys who “maybe should have gone up to AAA, he would have made it” were unexceptional. Every single one struggled early in the AA season in at least one phase of the game, and every one improved as the season progressed.

Indeed, it was ironic that, in the AA Tournament at the end of the season, those very “maybe should have gone up to AAA, he would have made it” boys were still making costly fielding errors, striking out, and pitching not so well.

Conscious of this tendency among some dads to over assess their boys, I had no intention of moving my son up to AAA, regardless of my own assessment of his pitching skills. I considered the prospect of moving him up only because two outside sources – my son’s two pitching coaches – were so adamant about moving him up.

But, be that as it may, the boy is staying in AA … an 8 year old among 7 to 10 year olds … playing with his friends … and getting all the mound time the Little League rules allow!