I wouldn’t worry about the velocity—it will come as the kid gets older and builds up mpre strength. Too many coaches are so obsessed with speed, speed and more speed, as if it were the be-all and the end-all of pitching—not so.
Now, about location. Many moons ago, when I was playing, I had a wise and wonderful pitching coach who was an active major-league pitcher—a key member of the Yankees’ Big Three rotation. He told me: “Move the ball around—high, low, inside, outside, and change speeds—and STAY AWAY FROM THE MIDDLE OF THE PLATE!” He knew whereof he spoke; the middle, or even middle-in, is just what the batters are looking for—a nice juicy pitch, usually a fast ball or a breaking pitch that hangs, that they can blast over the fence, out of the ballpark, across the street and into Aunt Minnie’s kitchen window. He also told me: “Figure out what the batter is looking for—and don’t give it to him.” Sound advice indeed, because I was a finesse pitcher, not much on speed (I topped out at 81) but with an arsenal of breaking stuff which I was constantly expanding.
My own repertoire wasn’t exactly chopped liver. I had a nice little curve ball which came attached to my natural sidearm delivery, a very good knuckle-curve, a palm ball which was my first changeup (and a good one it was), and a little later on the slider, which I nicknamed “Filthy McNasty” after a character in a W.C. Fields movie because that was exactly what it was, with a sharp late break. I had several variations of a couple of those pitches, and being a sidearmer I had picked up the crossfire (which the opposing hitters did not like at all because they were constantly striking out). And because I was really interested, really wanted to know, and was willing and ready to work at all of this, my coach had no reservations about teaching me a lot of very advanced stuff he felt I needed to know.
So, with the exception of down the middle, the kid should continue to work on hitting his spots. Here’s something I used to do, from the time when I was a little snip and well into my playing days: I would get a catcher, and we would go to a playing field that wasn’t being used at the time (there were several near Yankee Stadium). He would set up behind the plate while I took the mound, and we would play a little game we called “ball and strike”, the purpose of which was to refine my control. He would position his mitt in various spots—every which way, it seemed, but standing on his head—and I would concentrate on getting the ball smack-dab into the pocket of the mitt. It was a terrific workout and a lot of fun, and what a sweet satisfying feeling it was to hear that resounding “thwack” as the ball hit the pocket. I did this with all my pitches, at different speeds, and from time to time we would get someone to stand in the batter’s box (on either side of the plate) so I could really zero in on the various parts of the strike zone. Believe me, I can’t think of a better way to sharpen up one’s control. 8)