What % of youth pitchers never play HS or college?


Anyone know roughly what % of youth pitchers don’t play at the next levels?

Main reasons: burnout, lose interest, poor coaching leading to injuries… maybe other reasons? I’m curious what you all think


Youth to high school I have no idea.
I have consistently seen numbers between 5-6 1/2% of high schoolers playing any level of collegiate ball. For the kids out there, that means at best 93% off high school players don’t play in college.
Get to work.


Most youth pitchers continue to play. While they may not pitch in HS, they will still generally play. Some get bored or find other interests.


That’s a really interesting question, and I don’t think there’s ever going to be a way to track that data and get an answer.

If were talking purely just HS ball, not summer teams then I’d be willing to guess somewhere in the 10-15% of Pitchers moving from the youth level into HS actually play, simply because of roster spots even factoring in Varsity and JV spots. But that’s just a rough estimate, trying to work backwards from the numbers of HS Seniors who go onto play at the Collegiate level.


Not scientific by any means but best I can remember my sons 9-10 year old league had 11 teams of 12 players, last year before large defections to travel. Kids are now Freshman & Sophomore High School players. Total of 34 combined in both classes were selected for school team which would be a little under 26% that played 9-10 eventually made school team. Quite a few dropped out & many didn’t make it. This would be a total that played & continued into high school. Most everyone who made school team pitched at some point in youth ball. Of the 34 roughly 15 still pitch. Figuring how many total pitched in youth that don’t play school ball now makes my head spin, don’t even want to take a guess.


In 2005, House provided these numbers for the February timeframe of each year:

6.8 million Little Leaguers around the world
2.4 million high schoolers around the world
77 thousand collegiate
7 thousand minor leaguers
8 hundred big leaguers

He pointed out that the biggest drop off is between Little League and high school.


Roger, What ages are included in Little League numbers?


Interesting numbers from House. In my town, there are two youth levels for kids of HS age and one level leading in to HS. Those three levels account for about 90 kids. There are three towns feeding the HS talent pool. Now we’re up to close to 300 kids. While, as someone said above, nearly all pitched in youth at some point, we really can’t consider them all pitchers. The bulk of innings are thrown by 3-4 kids per team. That number reveals approximately 25% of youth players are pitchers. Being generous, that’s 75-85 kids truly pitching in youth. Each HS team needs at least 5 pitchers to throw all of those innings, so that’s 15-20 kids at best out of 80 still pitching the bulk of the HS innings. Of those remaining 65 youth pitchers no longer pitching, they comprise at least 50% of all remaining roster spots because when not pitching, these kids were the heart of the defense playing most of the middle defense (C, 2b, SS, CF). Again with generous rounding we are up to about 60 of the original 80 pitchers (75%) still playing any kind of HS ball. By position, I’d say P and SS have the highest % survival rate into HS because the pool consists of the exact same kids. In contrast, the chances of a youth LF making a HS team are almost zero. Mind you that this is a a lot of educated guesstimating.


Did a little research and here’s what I’ve come across. I’m surprised how difficult it is to get participation rates for baseball at all levels.

  • Little League Baseball – 2 million participants (ages 7-17) in 2011, down from 2.5 million in 2006.
  • High school baseball - 284,000 players
  • College baseball – 33,950 players
  • Minor League - 4,500 players
  • Major League (MLB) – 750 players




Would be interesting to see breakdowns by age groups. So many league affiliations besides little league now would have to include those as well as travel orginizations. Don’t know how information could be compiled & if so don’t think it would be accurate. Many kids are rostered in local league, USSSA, BPA, etc; if possible to compile would be interesting to see drop off rate by age.


My 15 year old dropped baseball for basketball this year.

Baseball became boring and he didn’t care the limitless number of bad coaches and favoritism.

Basketball became his sport because it is constantly moving. Still has bad coaches, but he only needs to work with a few teammates to overcome a bad coach.

In baseball, putting the wrong pitcher on the mound day after day affects the whole team. In basketball, playing one wrong person limits the effectiveness of the team, but it is easier to overcome than putting a softball thrower on the mound in HS because he wipes the coaches a$$.

Unfortunately, baseball’s moment has passed . . . Time to move on to dreams of the Sweet 16.


I see exactly where you’re coming from and it makes sense.

MLB is taking notice… when participation declines at the lowest levels, it affects its fanbase. Not sure if they are moving quickly enough, but I think they’re trying to insert themselves a little more with programs for inner city, pitch smart, youth majors, myhits and mypitch, etc.


I don’t know the age range for the Little League numbers provided by House.


I don’t know if this is exactly true.
MLB attendance average just about 12,000 per game in 1960. In 2012 it average about 32,000 per game. League wide attendance was down an average of 78 people per game between 2013 and 2014. It is hard to tell if there is a decline in youth baseball because of travel ball. For years I have been reading article after article about baseballs demise with kids, yet, nearly every weekend if I drive past my local spots complex between March and October there is baseball travel ball tournaments going on. Maybe twice a year I see soccer tournaments.
I think the narrative is being pushed by people with an agenda. Almost every article I read quotes the decline in Little League…that may very well be true. However, with travel ball it is hard to quantify if a decline is happening or not. MLB may be cutting its own throat in terms of attendance as more teams reach exclusive TV deals. Much as the NFL has with Sunday Ticket (plenty of empty seats in many NFL stadiums every week). It is much easier to plop down in the recliner and pop open a cold one (that doesn’t cost $8) at home and watch a game because you bought a season tv pass…no parking, no stadium food costs, no travel ect.
I think all of the narrative is based on nationally televised tv ratings and nothing else. Nothing else really bares out. Baseball is alive and well and loaded with money.


This shift is effecting school teams. My son’s school had only 8 freshmen tryout for the Frosh squad. In our case it probably has more to do with the fact that our Freshman coaching duo are referred to as Dee and Dumb.


The problem is Money. Go by a basketball court and see kids playing ball, go by a baseball field in any park in america today and it is empty. or worse yet. Locked and kids can not get on it even if they wanted to. Kids are FORCED to play on teams, not just play. I can go out in my driveway and shoot baskets, but my local ball field is locked up tighter than fort knox, for fear some kid might get the dirt messed up. It costs nothing to pick up a basketball, but I spend over 3500 for my kids travel team fees, uniforms and expenses when he was 10 years old. Travel teams while awesome experiences, are killing baseball at the youth level. If you dont have the 500 regisgtration fee, you play rec ball, and learn nothing, with no competition. Kids dont have the JOY of just going out and playing with their friends anymore… it is all too organized…


Parks are almost always empty now.
The only place I see kids out doing their own thing where I live is the skate park.


The tough thing about baseball has always been that it really requires a buddy – Dad, another teammate, throwing partner, etc.


Good point.
We used to just go play catch or pickle if there were a few of us.
Back when Atari was it.
Lets go outside instead…those days are gone I guess.


When I was in high school, and later on at music conservatory, there were no athletic teams—just general phys-ed in high school—so I did all my baseball playing on the outside. At age 14 I hooked up with a very; good team that might well have been called semipro if only everyone had gotten paid; the manager was a former semipro infielder with good baseball sense, and we played major league rules all the way, which pleased me very much. Then, at age 16 I got lucky—or maybe it was that I just asked the right person—but I found an incredible pitching coach who not only showed me how to throw a good slider but also gave me almost four years of some of the best pitching instruction to be found. I may not have been a major leaguer but I pitched at that level for some 22 years, and I will always remember that.