When 82-84mph isn't good enough (rant)

I’ve got an outstanding senior pitcher who throws 84 mph with command of three other pitches – cutter, curve and change. He dominates. 25 k’s in 11 innings so far with no walks. However, he’s getting no love from college coaches. None. I agree that pitching ability is extremely important, but this is a classic example of a kid who could no doubt pitch at the college level, yet because he’s not throwing upper 80s, he may not get the chance. That frustrates me, velocity is king. It really is.

Ah how I hated those days. Well he’s just simply going to have to re-focus the search. Is the head coach making calls for him?
I assure you that, for example the Fla. JUCO league, 84 with a body and rubber arm is going to get attention. It might not be The University of Texas, UF or any of the boomers but it can get the kid into the mix and allow him to increase his velo and skill range. Most of the schools, though they only have dorms at a couple of the colleges, have dedicated apartments and the cost isn’t prohibitive.
Does he do travel ball? Ya know…I can hook him up in a couple of different places for some of the premium summer travel leagues down here (They play at the World Wood Bat Championships and the Perfect Game events that are preliminary to it…possibly even getting him a chance at Jupitor if he performs)…all thats great but the end result is he wants to keep going and these events are frequented by scouts…with notification almost all of the JUCO HC’s will come take a peek.
This is that underground I keep mentioning…we need to begin the process of getting kids looked at…Let me know hombre, we’ll give you some phone numbers and see if we can’t do something for this kid.

I understand - completely. Velocity is king & I am only a prince!!! I remember watching the University of Memphis’s coach (Coach Corale) video posted on this site about risk and velocity. I remember him saying that picking someone up that throws 84 is much more risker for a coach - than picking someone up that throws high 80s to low 90s. It doesn’t seem many coaches put much stock on their ability to develop pitchers for later use. Instead, they want the JUCOs to do that.

What is interesting is when you watch the College World Series and the team that won it last year (South Carolina) - threw 2 guys that on a good day probably only topped out at 85 but they could locate pitches the majority of the time.

I am in the same boat - I have had folks from NAIA schools & JUCOs looking but not too many D1 schools - I am pitching in one of the toughest district’s in the state and have been pretty successful - 30 innings (6 earned runs). I am a very young senior (won’t be 18 until August), and can locate a pitch pretty well. The D1s I have talked to always seem like that want a 1 or 2 starter for next year. This has made me try to better determine what my goals are - do I go to a JUCO so I can possibly play D1 baseball at a big school later; do I go to an NAIA program where I can play sooner but it isn’t D1; or do I bag baseball and move on with my life and go to the big state school that has already accepted me. Just a decision I will have to make in the very near future.

Here is an interesting observation:

Of our 3 district pitchers (we play 3 consecutive district games against the same opponent) who essentially pitch against the same competition -

Our 1 pitcher has already committed to a D1 school & he has about the same stats as me - but he has hit 90 on the gun - but mainly sets around 86-88 mph. Our other pitcher (a lefty) has about the same stats and throws mid-80s - to my knowledge he hasn’t gotten too many looks either.
I set low to mid 80s (I have topped out at 84 - I picked up 4-6 mph over the last year) and have gotten only a little interest from D1 schools.

at the D1 level velocity matters very little. Most of our 90-92 mph pitchers are struggling and our three best pitchers at the moment are an 83 mph submarine lefty, an 84-85 mph small 3/4 arm slot lefty and a 6’8" 85-87 mph righty. All of them have control and a fair amount of movement. Our harder throwers have very little command in general but if you look at the guys who could potentially get drafted this year they will be the ones to go.

Also, I’m not sure how these pitchers ended up on the rosters if the coaches aren’t looking for mid 80s pitchers, but teams like florida state are chock full of guys throwing 83-87. We saw 5 or 6 of JMU’s pitchers last night and they had two guys near 90mph and the rest in that low-mid 80s range aside from a 75 mph lefty kid.

those high velo guys might have a higher ceiling potentially, but very few of them actually reach it and those with command of 2-3 pitches are the ones who have the most collegiate success.

Lefty, I’m with you there. It seems that entirely too much emphasis is placed on velocity—sheer speed—as if this were the be-all and the end-all of successful pitching, and such things as control and command of one’s pitches get lost in the shuffle. And if you’ve noticed, the finesse pitchers—the ones who don’t even get near 90 MPH—are often the deadliest of the lot, because they compensate for lack of speed—and they do it very well—with a good assprtment of offspeed and breaking pitches and the control and command thereof. Not to mention, they are usually at less risk of injury than the fireballers who all too often throw their arms out trying to outspeed everybody else.
Allie Reynolds, for example. He was a power pitcher with finesse. He had a fast ball that exceeded 100 miles an hour—and a few of his teammates used to say that with that pitch coming in at 200 miles an hour he didn’t need anything else; but he also had a very nice arsenal of breaking stuff and offspeed stuff, and because he could throw sidearm he could and did use the crossfire. Maybe he didn’t win twenty games, but he won more than a goodly share of them, and he was instrumental in carrying the Yankees to that incredible five-year World Championship streak.
Ed Lopat didn’t even have a fast ball to speak of—he would top out at 85 or 86—but he threw everything else, including the kitchen sink. And his control was so on-target that sportswriters used to say that he was wild if he walked more than two batters in a game. And what he used to do to the Cleveland Indians! They were his favorite patsies, and he ran up a 40-13 lifetime record against that hapless team whom he would consistently and monotonously beat to an unrecognizable pulp. The third member of that great triumvirate of pitchers, Vic Raschi, was a power pitcher with an overpowering fast ball, an even deadlier slider, and a very good changeup; he didn’t have an “Aunt Susie”, as they used to call a curve ball, but he didn’t need one. And he won 21 games three seasons running. In any event, all three of them had great stuff and the control and command to go with it, and they did not have to rely exclusively on the cheese.
I remember all three of them with great admiration and respect, and one of them—the incredible Mr. Lopat—became my pitching coach for almost four years, and he helped me become a better pitcher than I had been before. I didn’t have a fast ball either—but I developed a very good knuckle-curve, and I built my repertoire around it and a killer slider which I learned from him. Yes, it is indeed possible to win without a blazing fast ball, if one has everything else. 8) :slight_smile:


In my opinion, it’s all about getting out there as a Junior. One of two things could be going on, in my opinion (of course, I know little of the facts, so this is mere speculation):

  1. He didn’t get any exposure as a Junior. In the Northeast, I think that exposure comes from two places; first, showcases and second, competitive travel ball. If your pitcher did not do this, it’s likely that he just flew under the radar screen.
  2. He got exposure as a Junior but his velocity, mechanics, etc. greatly improved from his Junior year to his Senior year, so no one was interested last year.

Of course, as a Senior, there may be far fewer schools that needs spots. However, there is no doubt, that he is a D3 or a D2 candidate, at the least. My son’s high school coach does a great job of calling schools to promote kids. Has he applied and been accepted at a couple of schools that he may be interested in playing at (and be capable of playing at). If so, the coach could make a call.

I can boil your concerns down to a few primary reasons as to why he is not being recruited. One is that there may not be many baseball orientated colleges in your region, therefore your geographic area isn’t being scouted heavily. Another is that, of the 5 division one baseball players I know (including myself), we were all recruited during our summer baseball seasons. The college season runs from late february to mid or end of may. Recruiting coordinators and coaches are focused on the season, evaluating how the season goes, and then comparing what they have to what they need.

As an 82-84 effective RHP, I think your best bet at a playing opportunity in college is to attend camps for a particular college/university. These camps are usually held in the fall. You may be even fortunate enough to receive a college scholarship - i’ve seen many with that velocity receive athletic aid. Be sure to share you stats and success with the coaches.

In my experience, attending showcases and high profile tournaments benefit your prototypical tall/projectable player who has mid to upper 80s velocity or better. Perfect game showcases fit this description perfectly. I know a 6’3 190 RHP who out of high school threw 88-91, but could never find the strike zone. He was ranked nationally by PG out of high school but ended up being cut by a top notch D3 baseball program.

I would say the best pitchers in the world don’t throw mid/upper 90’s…Doc Halladay is steady 90-91 but see the late movement is what is important.

Maddux had great late movement. So if you throw slow the key is to get the ball to break late, very late as possible so when the hitter swings to a spot he thinks the ball will be, the ball will be moving 6+ inches during that swing.

Mariano’s Cutter is a great example of late movement as well. The key is rotation and a release point that is out in front of your stride foot.

Personally, my catchers always tell me I have great late movement on my sinker (complaining about jamming their thumb), I took Tom House’s sinker grip from “The Pitching Edge” and made sure I pronated all through my arm motion to release and throw it as hard as I can just like my 4 seamer. The thing breaks about 5 inches really late. It is, surprisingly, my out pitch. I always have guys hit jam shot pop ups to the infielders or weak ground balls.

It’s easier to get to the high levels on having great speed and then start taking velocity off then it is to get to bigs on slow speed.

The thing is you can get into the system throwing mid 90’s but then decide not to throw as hard cause you don’t have to, as long as you continue to get hitters out, you’ll have a job.

Well Steve, what are you doing as a coach to get this guy noticed? I bet there are 20 non d1 colleges in a 200 mile radius from where you guys live that could use a guy like this. You were in the show, your word goes a long way. Not to be a a hole, but quit crying on your own site and do something about it. If you expect college coaches to just come knocking at your door about players, you are not a very good coach.

velo is key to being noticed off the street, unless youre a wakefield lol

sorrybut thats just the way it is, look how people drool over chapman hitting 106 (yes i admire the mans talents)

Exactly - have already had an area scout and D2 coach here to watch him pitch over the weekend. 3 more coming in the next two weeks. And have reached out to his dream school, in Maryland.
I think my initial point was missed entirely based on the harshness of th
e comments, which is unfortunate. But thats that.

I hear you on this velocity is king. It is the only true equalizer out there. If a kid throws 90 - he throws 90. If a kid strikes out 21 in a game - his opponent might’ve stunk & he probably would have given up 21 hits against a better opponent. I wish I could figure this out - but right now I am in the same boat - 82-84 very few guys want to take a chance on that. If you figure it out let me know.

The old crusty HS coaches, that seem like they don’t care, probably got that way by seeing what you are seeing now. It is good that you rant - it means you care!

The idea is reality…understand where you are and what it takes to get where you are going. My son went to a JUCO after being in the top 5 pitchers in the state (ERA) and is now actively following another course…baseball is desire, it never ends if you don’t want it to. The kid will catch on with someone, you’d like to see it be where you’d like it to work…but ultimely…being on a team, playing past high school…as far as it goes…Ahhh the Memory of a man named Baker comes to mind…John gave his adult life helping guys who loved it enough to chase it even when the conditions weren’t pretty…It’s desire…and it doesn’t take away the sting when you see a potential injustice of Steven’s kid and yours too Kid…but it ain’t over…is only over where you/they say.
The beauty of it all is…sticking to his guns and playing it all the way out…the kid will “find” his level and life will go on :wink:

Do you remember a guy named Ed Lopat? Probably not—he was before your time, but I remember him very well. He was pitching in the minor leagues and not doing too badly, but most scouts weren’t interested in him—because he didn’t have a fast ball to speak of. It took a former major league umpire, the president of the AA Southern Association, to convince the Chicago White Sox to take a chance on him. The Sox agreed to take him on a 30-day trial basis—something unheard of, but they did it, and when he established himself as a good pitcher (albeit with one of the lousiest teams in all creation), they decided to keep him. A few years later the Yankees, who had been keeping an eye on him, noted several things—his uncanny control and his habit of beating the Cleveland Indians to an unrecognizable pulp—and they decided they had to have him. They acquired Lopat in a trade, and he promptly established himself as a very, very good pitcher with a great team; he became one of the team’s fabled Big Three rotation.
He didn’t have a fast ball to speak of, as I said—but he had everything else, and he kept adding a new pitch to his arsenal every year. And here’s an ironic twist: the Indians could have had him. They could have purchased his contract at the end of the 1943 season for peanuts—but they chose to listen to their scouts who kept saying that he’d never make it in the majors because he didn’t have a fast ball. That decision came back to haunt them for twelve years.
And a lot of finesse pitchers, of which he was one, have made it in the major leagues. I remember him telling me once that if you can’t overpower the hitters, you outthink and outfox them. I was one such pitcher—when I realized that I would never be a rip-roarin’ fireballer like Feller, Raschi, Gibson, Verlander and the like, I went in the other direction and became a snake-jazzer—and a very good one. So you see, while a blazing fast ball may be desirable, that’s not all there is, and those folks who insist that it’s the be-all and the end-all of successful pitching had better get their heads out of the sand!!!

Just remember Steve, there are 2 types of HS coaches in this world. 1)The ones that would do anything for their kids, no matter what the talent. 2) The ones that talk alot, clock out after practice and go drink 6 packs. My son has #2, so it is up to me to get him in the system outside of our state. Only in the 9th grade, he had an umpire that also does college games track me down after that game he called my son pitching, to get our contact info. He talked to us for a half hour about his pitches, our training, how long he has been pitching, etc. We have been getting letters from colleges in the mail for the past month inviting him to camps since that day. It does not take much to get the word out.