Pitching Speeds for what age and thinking to college

My son is a high school freshman. He is 6’5" (size 16 shoe!) and is a pitcher. He goes to a pitching academy and has played travel ball for 5+ years. Question, he is now throwing 83. What are pitching speeds of those hoping to go Div. 1?

Division 1…is like a lot of things. It’s a nice label that is suppose to describe the top tier college baseball programs but you have to start naming programs of interest and then go from there. For instance, in the northeast a Div 1 program might take a mid eighties guy if he is a proven out getter.

You go to a college in the south or southwest and you are probably looking at Div 2 or 3. It has been my observation that size will get you opportunity but size also carries with it expectations and if you fail to measure up, you will get ignored like you were 5’7". Shoe size doesn’t translate to velocity.

If I had to put the average speed for a top D1 in writing, I guess it’d be 87 on the real low end and touching 90 as relatively common. These are guys that probably saw some interest from MLB as a high school pitcher. The really cream of the crop…are going to be signed out of high school unless they really value that degree or don’t feel particularly mature enough to withstand the professional grind. Or maybe they are mid rounders.

And there are exceptions…and others will probably disagree with me somewhere along the line. My question to you is…do you think you could look for a college program and select a good one that fits if you had no clue what division they participated in?

To build on what Dino has touched on, this was taken from laflippin

[quote] Velo is all over the map in college."

However, for a variety of reasons, “all over the map” does not equate to “random distribution”. HS pitchers who aspire to pitch in college should have a reasonable idea of where they fit in by the end of summer following their Junior year.

Important disclaimer: Although people often offer the fuzzy disclaimer that “velocity is overrated”, there are some very good reasons to know your best velocity at the end of Junior year, and to know a little about where that number points to on “the map” of college programs. For better or worse, coaches will use your top velocity to help them project whether you are likely to develop into a competitive pitcher at their college program level.

College-level is certainly not as simple as “D1” versus other levels and it’s even difficult to break programs down by conference. There are currently 297 D-1 college baseball programs spread over 30 conferences as listed by the NCAA.

Just to take one example, the Pac-12 conference, contains the NCAA’s top-ranked program in 2012 (UCLA) and the program ranked #200 (Utah). That’s quite a spread in rankings but the ave. HS velocity of pitchers who eventually appeared on a Pac-12 baseball roster in 2012 doesn’t vary greatly:

For eventual Pac-12 RHPs:

#1 UCLA ave = 91.5 #4 Arizona ave = 89.7 #6 Oregon ave = 86.7 #11 SStanford ave = 90.9 #27 Oregon St. ave = 91 #15 Arizona St. ave = 88.8 #55 U of Wash ave = 86 #59 Wash St. ave = 85.5 #99 USC ave = 89 #200 Utah ave = 87.8

Remember: These are ave. velocities of RHPs when they were in HS, before they found their way onto a Pac-12 baseball roster somewhere.

These numbers do say something important about the average expectations of Pac-12 coaches concerning who they will recruit into their programs. Unfair and short-sighted? Maybe, but it is very important to be aware of the expectations of people who may (or may not) be interested in your potential to play for them.

Perhaps a more revealing breakdown of “D-1 velocity” is to separate out small groups of programs based on their place in the NCAA rankings:

#25 Vanderbilt #26 Ole Miss #27 Oregon St.

Ave HS velo of RHP pitchers who eventually appeared on the 2012 roster of one these programs was: ave = 90.5 +/- 2. (That means that about 70% of the RHPs in this group pitched in the range: 88.5 - 92.5 mph when they were in High School. Ave HS velo of LHPs who eventually played at these schools was: ave = 88.5 +/- 2.5 mph. (again, this means that 70% of LHPs for these programs were in the range 86 - 91 mph in High School.

#40 New Mexico St. #47 Gonzaga #55 U of Wash

Fairly substantial drop-off here: The ave HS velo of RHPs who eventually appeared on these rosters was: ave = 85.5 +/- 2.5. Thus, 70% of these RHPs were in the 83 - 88 mph range in HS. For the LHPs in these programs, the HS ave velo was: ave = 82.5 +/- 2.5, with 70% falling in the range of 80 -85 mph. (The universal tolerance for lower velo from LHPs has been known forever–you will see this pattern repeated over and over).

#75 Nevada #80 Wash St. #83 Fresno St. #88 Hawaii

Very similar RHP numbers to the #40 - #55 programs: Ave HS velo for RHPs who eventually got a roster spot on one of these programs was: ave = 85.5 +/- 3.5 mph. So, the range of RHP High School velocities was a bit wider at this level,82-89 mph, but the average expectation was still about 86 mph. Interestingly, the LHP HS velo numbers were a bit higher for this group, ave = 86 +/-3 mph.

#99 USC #101 Loyola Marymount #109 Sacramento St. #119 U of San Francisco #123 U of Portland #131 St. Mary’s

Ave HS velo of RHPs who eventually played for these programs was: ave = 86.5 +/- 3 mph. Only 1 mph different than the averages fro the #40 - #55 group and the #75 - #88 group. Ave HS LHP velo = 85.5 +/- 5 mph.

#165 Xavier #177 Santa Clara #199 Seattle U. #200 Utah #206 Davidson #210 San Jose St.

Ave HS velo of RHPs who eventually played on these teams was: ave = 85 mph +/- 4 mph. For LHPs, ave = 82.5 +/- 4 mph. The std dev on these numbers leads to fairly wide ranges for the 70% groups: RHPs = 81 - 89 mph; LHPs = 78.5 - 86.5.

Let’s look at “the bottom of the barrel” of D-1 NCAA rankings:

#288 Youngstown St. #295 Florida A&M #296 Alabama A&M

There was not enough public data (i.e., Perfect Game velocities) to evaluate HS LHP velo for pitchers who eventually showed up on a roster for one of these programs. There was also not very much RHP data available for these pitchers, but enough to make a point. The ave High School velo of RHPs on these rosters was: ave = 81 +/-4.5 mph. A pretty low average with a wide range. Thus, 70% of RHPs who pitched for these teams had HS velo in the range = 76.5 - 85.5 mph.

As has been pointed out elsewhere in this thread, it may not make much sense to include JCs in a comparison w/ most D1, D2, and D3 programs because academic ability (grades, SAT or ACT scores, etc) and economic factors may come strongly into play. It’s probably very safe to assume that there is significant overlap between the average HS velocity expectations for the top half of all D2 programs and many of the D1 programs. Also, may be safe to assume that there is overlap between expectations at top D3 programs and many good D2s and some of the D1s.

What it looks like to me is: Almost everybody who is capable of pitching in high school can probably find a “fit” for themselves in a college program somewhere at some level. However, this is not really saying enough…the big picture really requires a good college “fit” that depends on each of these important factors: Academics, economics, social factors, and your ability to pitch a baseball.[/quote]

Also somethings to touch on,

Many, many D-1 recruits leave ther D-1 program and seek greener pastures for more playing time. Check out the University of Tampa’s roster (a D-2) to get a fuller appreciation of what I am talking about.

As well as if your son has pro aspirations you have a better shot at being seen on the field at a lesser program than on the bench at a powerhouse. Keep in mind there’s a strong chance of sitting on the bench for a year or two or seeing very limited innings.

Very rarely does a freshman earn a starting position on top teams competing against other freshmen, sophs, upper classmen and JUCO transfers. The top conferences have already recruited their phenoms in two to three potential classes ahead of him. Is he prepared to sit the bench for a year or two.

Obviously these things will come into play further down the road since your son is a Freshman in HS, but these are just somethings to consider.

Went to a JC game in Cali this past weekend to check out a couple of possible locations for my son. The starter on the visiting team was sitting 86-88. The starter on the home team was sitting 81-82. Both were able to locate pretty well and got in about 6 innings. The relievers that came in were both low to mid 80s. Saw a couple of LHP and there was a drop coming from the left side. One was a smaller guy, about 5’ 8" with a funky over the top delivery, the other was a big guy, about 6’ 5", 220. Neither threw hard and had control issues…one batter, one walk and pulled.
By looking at the rosters you can really see how the coaches put together the teams. The visiting squad had a lot more size and was trying to power guys around the bags. Not so smooth on D; three errors. The home team was smaller but much better on D and was very much about moving guys around the bases with bunts ect.
Good eye opener for my son. Everyone talks about velocity, because it is the easiest gauge. But, watching two guys at that level only miss once or twice about the waste in 6 innings each…gotta be able to not be wild.