Pitching Arsenal for 14 year old RHP

I’m an incoming Freshman
I don’t know what I should add to my arsenal. I have trouble throwing a curve.

4 seam: I throw around 70mph on average
I have total command and control
can throw for strikes constantle
little motion

2 seam: a little under 70 mph
good control
great tail

what should I throw?

          Thanks, Frankie

Don’t worry about a curve or any other breaking pitch. Work on a changeup—every pitcher needs one. And you have a whole basketful of changeups to choose from; one suggestion would be the palmball (the very first change I picked up), which is thrown with the same arm motion and the same armspeed as a fastball and would be easy for you to pick up.

A change-up is a good pitch to learn, but at your age and level right now I’d train with that pitch, but be careful depending on it right now. This doesn’t mean don’t use it once you have the basics of what that pitch is and why you use it. Just be mindful that you’re going to get hit a lot at first.

Now some observations.

Your a freshman so I assume that there’s a separate level of play for freshmen. No? Unless there’s league rules that freshmen can and cannot play at JV or varsity, I assume that freshmen baseball is the level that your club will compete in or at. So, you might be used a lot, seeing how you have an inventory that’s pretty well defined. That arsenal that you itemized is a good one and with some pretty good characteristics to it, at that. So I would suggest sticking to what you bring to the field right now, “as is,” while working on a change-up. Just remember that a change-up is a slower pitch than your other pitches. Sometimes in the age group and level that you’re playing at, a good number of batters can adjust to a change-up quickly - thus goodbye horsehide. Why? Because you’re trying to break from the norm of what your body is use to doing - 4 seam and 2 seam. Hence you’ll bring that fastball body motion to the change-up while still learning how and why you use a change-up.

Just one last thing. Since you have a mainstay of fastballs to your inventory, you’re going to have to pace yourself at this new level of competition. Tossing gas for, say, five innings, can be taxing on yourself. You might need more rest in the “days off” department than your coaches are willing to give you. Why? Because like I mentioned in the beginning of my post, you may be used a lot because of your establish pitch inventory and its established characteristics.

My high school does not have a freshman team. The school has JV and V. What change up would I develop and master? Should I attempt to add a breaking ball? I have relatives in my family who have gone pro with the 12-6. Thank you

Ok, no freshmen ball.

If your hand size is decent, by that I mean a grip to work with a pitch like a change-up, this would in my opinion be a better selection than a breaking pitch(s).
Why?
A breaking pitch (any breaking pitch) at you age is an “if-ee” thing at best when it come to effectiveness. In other words, you’re either spot on or not, with “not” leading the way. Now I’m not suggesting to ignore the breaking stuff - oh by no means. But breaking pitches like a the curve ball require a good a mount of hands-on trying, experimenting with placement, umpires witness to how it looks if you’re going for a strike-call or not, and to the batting order placement that you’re tossing it to. Besides all that, if you try this how-to on your own without the experience of someone there, by your side, to help you, you can teach yourself all the wrong stuff that’ll be with you down the road later on.
The change-up on the other hand is easy to learn, cultivate as a go-to pitch, and extremely effective under the right conditions. It can literally set-up a guy for another pitch that’s been working for you all day, or it can be a real working pitch that you can use for all the innings that you scheduled to work.

I mentioned hand size in the beginning of this post. Here’s how you determine the kind of change-up that’ll work well for you.

  • Take a baseball in your pitching hand and with your thumb and index finger ( first finger on your hand) make an OK sign. If your middle finger, while covering the ball, makes it up and past at least your second knuckle of your index finger that’s part of the OK sign, then this grip is for you. You’ll notice a decent confidence level with this grip without question here.
    http://i216.photobucket.com/albums/cc90/CoachBaker/chgup-3_zpsb5xd6drh.jpg
  • IF on the other hand your grip doesn’t make it, then a palm grip is the way to go. The “palm ball” as its called is the easiest grip in the change-up family to get. ,BUT, it requires a great deal more work to at least be a pitch worth having. The palm ball will either work with you- OR, against you. The reason for saying this is because you’ll instinctively use more “umph” to deliver this pitch than necessary, at first. As you refine your customary “feel” here, this pitch (palm ball) can be a relief from tossing gas, pitch after pitch. Below is a picture of the palm ball grip.
    http://i216.photobucket.com/albums/cc90/CoachBaker/palm%20ball_zpswy1zoefz.jpg

I had a pitcher who would use a change-up only as a set-up pitch. He’d nibble the corners, but, not for a strike. His intentions was to give the batter a look-see to the incoming speed and perception of a pitch… then work quickly to get the ball back, kick and deliver a blistering fastball. The batter, in most cases, would still have this floater in his mind, then ZIPPO right across the plate came this screamer.

I got a smile watching the guy in the box kind of dip with his entire body, watching that follow up pitch wiz by him.

Now my guy didn’t go to the well with that scenario on a regular basis, nor did he use this combo on the same batter all the time. Just enough to keep everyone off balance.

Thank you! I have trouble getting control of the circle change. I’ll try the palm ball when I can. Can I use the change up as a set up and a strike out pitch?

I like your style FankieFresh, it shows a willingness to get-out-there and learn.

Just remember with the palm ball, your point of release and location is going to be like night and day form your other inventory of pitches, so practice refining your palm ball. Practice with going for the catcher’s kneecaps, but remember to compensate for releasing a bit higher and upright, if you’re under 6 feet. But always finish after release with a good fastball posture and keep you head into the pitch - don’t bail out by looking down and to the side. You want to witness where and what your pitch did. I’ve seen youngster 15 and under have a decent off-speed and change-up by NOT have a game-of-catch posture after releasing their off-speed and change-up pitch.

Ok, now to address your question, and at some length.

The change-up and the off-speed are considered the same pitch, but in reality they’re not. Here’s why. Now this is from a refined coaching perspective so give this some thought.

  • An off-speed pitch is what I like to consider as the first pitch that a batter sees, without comparing it to any other pitch before it. Usually, I like to see a pitcher deliver this kind of pitch a little slower than his usual fastball, but with a fastball choreography to it. Whatever grip he feels comfortable with - go for it. Now the next pitch that follows can be whatever is in the inventory for whatever the situation dictates.
  • A change-up is just that. It - the pitch, is a change in speed and other dynamics that the pitcher has working for him that day. The key to that pitch, I like to think of, is the word “change”. In other words there is something that this pitch can be compared to, next in quick order.

Now I know this may seem like semantics, but from a coaching perspective (mine) it’s not. But then again, some coaches and pitchers will make no distinction between the two phrases/pitches.

Ok, now more directly to your question.

Setting Up a Batter
In order to setup a batter, your stuff has to be right on, about 80% of the time. This also means that, 80% is doable from the first pitch, first inning, to that pitch that’s going to be a setup pitch, in say the sixth inning. Workability and control is the key here. If you can get a nibble on the corners, or even high heat that a batter just can’t lay off of, you’re golden. That change-up will have the guy guessing… what the #@!* is this guy gonna serve up next? Now your cooking… not to mention giving your pitching coach a well earned break from the Maalox. Just be mindful that in the later innings, the bottom of the batting order is usually “up to speed” sort speak, with seeing enough of your stuff to catch up to and estimate your incoming bag of tricks. So temper yourself on pitch selection.
Strike Out Pitch
If you’re going for a strike out with a change-up, be mindful who you facing. A guy that has taken you into a hole or deep, should be given a wide berth. In fact, there’s probably a good reason why a guy like that is in the top to middle of the batting order - or even better, a DH or sub later in the game. In any event, I would never suggest going for the off-speed as a strike for your first pitch in the later innings, or to the bottom of any batting order.
At your level of play the first time you face a guy, it’s not all that unusual for these guys, for whatever reason(s), to stand in the box and TAKE the first pitch. If the scouting reports, or in your case what other guys seem to do, proves that the first pitch is usually taken 90% of the time by the middle of the batting order on down - go for it. Then get the ball back quickly and dish out your best stuff, one after the other. In doing so, you’ll notice that the batter is in the hole quickly and won’t have time to adjust all that well, and he’ll be off balance. Now keep what you just did with a particular batter in the back of your mind. You’re going to want to dish him again, and quickly every time his digs in against you.

Another approach to the circle change is to grip the ball with thumb and middle finger cutting the ball in half and index finger tucked down the side of the ball only as far as flexibility allows. It is not necessary to make a tight circle. Keeping the thumb and middle finger centered on the ball can help with control. Start off throwing the pitch with just enough pronation to get the middle 2 fingers behind the ball. Think “fastball” with the middle 2 fingers.

As you get comfortable with this, increase the amount of pronation to take even more off the pitch and add some tailing movement.

Roger brought up an excellent set of pointers. Do you understand where Roger is coming from?

  • do you understand what Roger means when he mentions " grip the ball with thumb and middle finger cutting the ball in half and index finger tucked down the side of the ball only as far as flexibility allows"
  • do you understand what Roger means when he mentions "Start off throwing the pitch with just enough pronation to get the middle 2 fingers behind the ball."

Thank you so much it’s like I have a personal pitching coach in my room! Haha. How would you recommend I throw my 4 seam, 2 seam, and change up in a count?

All I want to do is pitch. Every day after work or school I try working on mechanics and train. The funny thing is I’ve always had the ability to pitch when I was younger, I have a strong arm, I’m accurate, but I’ve never gone on the mound and throw in a live game (partially because my coach doesn’t let me pitch) (my coach is kind of a huge @ss). I practice all the time and I’m determined to be the best I can be.

FrankieFresh,

Did you understand what Roger was getting at. It’s sound advice that can make learning and managing a pitch like the change-up? So, there are terms and wording that Roger used that are deliberate and good advice. It’s important that you understand where he’s going with his advice.

I don’t believe there’s an answer here that’ll do justice to your question. Why? Because it depends…
Depends on:

  • What place in the batting order your dealing with
  • What the tendencies are of who you’re facing in the batting order.
  • What signals are coming from the dugout. In that regard, at your level I wouldn’t test the waters here, but go with whatever is sent out to you.
  • What percentage is working for whatever inventory you brought to the mound, to the inning, to how healthy you feel.
  • Are you going to pitch for a play or strike out.
  • Runner on or not. Then who’s up next.
  • I had a pitcher who had one mean curve ball. But every time he tossed it, the base runner advanced with little or no challenge. So, from first to second, second to third. Ok, so the batter that he was facing went down, the next guy up in the box… and I remember this like yesterday… parked his first curve ball in Ohio somewhere. Our game that night was in Buffalo, N.Y.

From where I sit, that question is kind of open ended. A good question never the less, but a little too dynamic for me to answer. Perhaps someone else can handle it better.

Thank you so much for all the help. It’s been raining here in south Florida non stop so not much to do outside. Thanks!

I am also 14. Would it be a good idea to throw/practice a cutter or sinker if I have a good fastball/changeup combo?

Try the 1-finger curveball. You create spin with the index finger (hence the 1-finger) and with the middle finger underneath the ball (not on top anymore) you have more power to throw it harder. You will have a hard breaking curve to fool the hitter. It’s like casting a fishing line. No one had Tommy John surgery from casting a fishing pole. And check out this coach (no, it’s not me) doing a demonstration of sorts:

Bob McCreary - Safe Curve