I see where you are coming from, valid point, and I am in agreement. However I think that is just the way the sport has been going for awhile now, all the way down to the youth levels. There was an article on here titled "I’d like to offer some help, “been there did it done it.” Good read and insightful he mentions college recruiting camps and how if the recruiter wasn’t impressed with velocity he took some notes and moved on… Yes that’s HS/College scale, but take a look at USSSA probably the biggest travel ball organization. In every age group from 7-18 they have Major, AAA, AA, A divisions, is this a good thing sure it keeps you playing teams on your level. It also creates “Man that team is good, they finished top 3 in the big local competitive league the last 3 years even one year in an older age division, and win most the tournaments they compete in and were runners up at the State tournament last year. I really want to be on that team” or parent version “I really want or think my son deserves to be on that team”!
This leads to when tryouts roll around for those competitive league/travel ball teams now you have kids/parents getting told at 8, 9, 10 etc that little Johnny just doesn’t have the arm were looking for to compete at AAA or the Major level. Sure Johnny should still have fun enjoy baseball and hopefully Johnny finds a AA or A level team to join… Now you have a disappointed Johnny cause he really had his heart set on that winning team and more importantly what just got put in Johnny’s head and his parents at 8 years old… Johnny doesn’t have the velocity to be AAA/Major sure Johnny will grow and get stronger, he is still years from puberty who knows what will happen. But now the mindset of velocity matters just got instilled, and if you don’t know any better, it is probably something you go on believing. Yes a lot of asking is probably chest thumping and they already know the answer, but due to some of what I mentioned questions may come as a “safety check” and fear of having your kid embarrassed.
Example: a few years ago we were looking to fill a couple open spots on our 8u team, we had a kid show up and we always ask their level of play as current players on the team also participate in tryouts so parents can see where the other players are at. Dad says he has played rec ball 2 years, best rec player in the league (small town nearby) after warm ups we start with catchers throwing to 2nd we have all the other kids taking throws at 2nd, he gets to 2nd and as the throw comes he dives out of the way gets up and says “that’s the hardest throw I’ve ever seen”. This was a kid that signed up to tryout as a primary 1st baseman and ended up too afraid to take one throw at first from any of our current players. It was a wake up call, and we tried to encourage the kid but you could see he was embarrassed.
Once again it’s a situation where kids/parents leave a tryout and say holy cow did you see how hard those kids were throwing??? Are they elite, are they average and I’m that far behind, where am I in this “pecking order”? Then they go looking for answers. Now Johnny is 10 and looking again at something more competitive than rec, and want to make sure little Johnny doesn’t get overwhelmed again, he is now throwing 40’s how’s that compare with the avg? It is hard to know just by asking, and lets face it you can find velocity charts on the internet that say a 10u can range from a low 37 to high of 55, while that is true 20mph is a lot, we had two kids similar stature the opposite of mass=gas, were talking 4’6 65lbs soaking wet at 9 that threw 51-55 consistently and could reach back and get 57/58 occasionally. If you’re a catcher that caught your big lefty in rec ball that threw 33-35 and step in to 9u tryout and the first pitch you see is 55 from 46ft, eyes tend to light up a bit. First before I catch heat for this, we don’t gun the kids constantly, at that age its ridiculous, we do it occasionally at practice for fun because they love it, but we don’t emphasize and focus on it. We focus more on pitch location, counts, working in/out, high/low, vary delivery/timing the little things that will make you a good pitcher regardless of what velocity they end up at when they hit HS.
I am also not saying you must have top velocity to have a good team, not at all, I am just offering a possibility of how we got to so many questions relating to velocity. Yes coaches are or should be looking for the other tangibles as well, but if you have the choice between 2 kids, both have equivalent skill sets, attitudes, etc and one throws 15mph harder with just as much accuracy, who do you choose? In the end velocity has an impact at every position, how fast can you get the ball from point A to point B with accuracy.
I remember this kid who moved to my town in Jr High, we played summer ball on the HS field 325 in the corners and 415 center, this kid could hit off the tee or soft toss and bomb the ball well over the wall. Big arm too, couldn’t ever hit his target could go left wall to home in the air on a line but would never be on target. All the coaches rant and raved about his “raw” power and his “raw” potential, and IF…IF he ever got a hold of one… This kid ended up being a every game starter on the team, and if they kept records for that league he would probably to this day still own the strikeout record, I don’t recall the kid ever getting a hit. He moved away a year or two later who’s knows what ever happened with him, but for those seasons there sure were a lot of what ifs.
There was another article on here talking about not fair, and yes our youth shouldn’t be so focused on velocity and should focus on fun and development, but you can’t put blinders on either. I believe the thread mentioned a kid throwing 83 and was a great pitcher, good ERA, etc but just kept getting over shadowed and over looked when it came to a kid that threw 90’s, kid probably didn’t have near the strike % as the kid throwing 83 but I can hear it now “the raw potential” “if we just work with him” It happens, Project Pitcher who throws 94 and may never throw better than 45% strikes gets a shot over a proven solid pitcher that doesn’t have the flashy velocity. In the end I think a lot of kids are always curious how they stack up to the “oh man, look at this kid” player, and they always will have that curiosity.