i know many people have been talking about how control is everything, but is this true in the high school level? Also, i’m a sophomore right now, 15 years old, kinda undersized (5’10) and i’m only throwing mid-70’s. I’m slightly concerned because i’ve read alot of kids my age with about ten mph faster elsewhere. Should i be concerned with my speed at this level? I’m doing a fitness program (strength and core workouts) once to twice a week, but i’m starting to wonder: am i ever going to catch up to the heat?
Pitching isn’t just velocity or command, but rather, combines with ball movement to produce whatever success a pitcher has. What final level a pitcher desires to reach, and how he defines his personal success depends on the skill level of each. With that understood, here’s some things to think about.
1st of all, what level are you talking about, Varsity or JV?
Looking at just numbers of innings pitched, where do you think you rank when compared to your peer pitchers? IOW, do you believe you’re getting a good opportunity to demonstrate your ability to get batters out?
When you do pitch, how do you view your success/failure, and how do you feel the guy making the decisions views your success/failure?
Do your numbers show you’re getting pounded around and wild, or do they show something else?
How do you feel you perform against strong, average, and weak competition? IOW, can you only regularly get out weak competition?
Has the guy making the pitching decisions evaluated you, and if so, what has he said. That’s important because no one here or anywhere else can do more than speak in very general terms about your situation. FI, if you pitch at a small school, throw mid-70’s but have good command and decent movement and are pitching on the average JV team, chances are fairly good you’re gonna get plenty of innings to improve at your craft. But, if you’re trying to make the V of a big and nationally ranked program as a So pitcher, chances are slim and none of even making the team.
In conclusion, what I’m trying to tell you is, there are no absolutes here. You can only do what you can do within the framework of your situation. Do whatever you can to improve all 3 facets of pitching, plus learn as much about it as possible, and do as much as you’re able to improve your strength, conditioning, and mental approach. Those things won’t ever change, no matter what the level or player’s potential.
Many moons ago there was a guy who started out as a first baseman but soon converted to the mound. His name was Ed Lopat, and he didn’t have a fast ball to speak of—but he did have several breaking pitches, and he was constantly adding to that arsenal. In the early 1940s he pitched for the AA Southern Association Atlanta Crackers and was winning a lot of games. But the scouts weren’t interested, because he didn’t have a fast ball; however, a former major league umpire who had become president of the Southern Association convinced the Chicago White Sox to take a chance on him. They took him on a 30-day trial basis, and when he kept on winning games they decided to keep him. He spent four years with the White Sox—a good pitcher with a lousy team—and he quickly attracted the attention of the New York Yankees for several reasons, one of which was his uncanny control; he averaged one walk every five innings, and another was the fact that he won a lot of games. In 1948, just before spring training started, the Yankees traded for him—a deal that to this day still has the White Sox scratching their heads and wondering how he got away from them. He spent the next seven and a half years being a very, very good pitcher with a great team. Without a fast ball.
Lopat had another remarkable feature—a favorite patsy, the Cleveland Indians who at that time were a very good team. From the minute he appeared in the American League he zeroed in on them and consistently beat them to an unrecognizable pulp, compiling a 40-13 lifetime record against them. Without a fast ball. Oh, he beat other teams in the league as well, and in postseason play he had a 4-1 record—but it was the Indians he just feasted on; in no time at all he became the one pitcher they feared more than any other in the league.
I had the good fortune to meet him, and he became my pitching coach for almost four years. One day we were talking, and he said to me, “You know, you haven’t said a word about a fast ball.” I was flabbergasted, and I blurted out “WHAT fast ball?” He laughed—he had this warm, easy laugh that just got me—and then he said, “Don’t worry about that. We’ll work with what you’ve got.” Immediately my estimation of him jumped some 600 percent as I realized what he was telling me—that he would take me in hand, work with me and help me all he could. And he did.
And I didn’t have a fast ball. I had known this all along, that I would never be a rip-roarin’ fireballer like Feller, Raschi, Gibson, Verlander and Sabathia (to name five), and so I had decided to go in the other direction and become a finesse pitcher. I became a very good one, and for more than twenty years I played with a team in an independent league in New York City, doubling as a starter and a late-inning reliever, winning a lot of games and rescuing a lot of others. So, dragon, I’m just telling you—maybe you can increase your speed, maybe not, but if it’s not in the cards for you there’s that other direction—good stuff, good control and command, perhaps as a strikeout pitcher, perhaps pitching to “contact” (making the batter go after what you WANT him to hit), maybe both, as I did—the important thing is to stick with it and not give up. Yes, there’s a place for us snake-jazzers. 8)