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Sparks Journey from Little League to College

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  • This is kind of funny.

    I know a guy that uses a radar gun WITHOUT batteries in it.

    Sometimes he remembers to put the batteries in it, but he just sort of uses it when the kids throw. After a few sessions the kids think the gun has no batteries and they forget about it. Once the kids forget about it, he sort of remembers where he left the batteries and jots down a few notes with numbers, then he loses the batteries again. Someone always holds the radar gun and the kids are never told when it is on or off. They just forget about it and tune it out completely. They are never told the numbers so they don't ask. Sort of like a baseball version of "don't ask - don't tell."

    Anyway, the less I use a radar gun, the better I get. I catch allot of bullpen work for our 11 U team. We have kids that throw from 45 to 67. I used a radar gun while watching them pitch and it was disguised in an empty box of donuts. It just looked like I was holding a box of donuts, but I had the bottom cut out to hold the trigger. I kept voice notes on my Iphone too. This is like a cross between 007 and McGyver.

    Seriously, I can tell how hard the kid is throwing without the radar. But, what I am really looking for now is mechanics, accuracy, and life on the fast ball, and then I am looking for a good change of pace on the change up. For the kids that throw other pitches I am looking for command of them. The velocity takes care of itself when they throw from the ground up, use their legs, and release out front while staying on top of the ball. If you want to improve velocity, work on technique. Usually needs a better push off.

    Kids need to learn to stay within themselves and throw correctly. Too much emphasis on velocity right now at the younger ages. My second slowest throwing kid on the team has the lowest ERA and the most strike outs.

    Comment


    • No, I didn't check the date ursa, but I liked it anyway.

      My funny info above is fairly recent.

      Comment


      • Originally posted by Sparksdale View Post
        Update: 2-28-10
        It's been sometime since I've posted.



        So far he's pitched in 4 games and has started two of them (he was the closer in the other two games). He has a record of 2 wins and 0 losses. He has a perfect ERA of 0:00 and has only given up 4 hits so far this year. He's walked 3 batters and has struck out 8.

        It's very early in the season and on opening day even though he had a 1 hitter going the coach took him out after the 3 innings. He didn't want him to throw too much the first game of the year I guess.


        His hitting is doing ok, he's hitting .353 with an OBP of .500. We have one kidding hitting over .600 on our team and another hitting over .500. Again it's early in the season so who knows where we'll end up after 36 games.


        Sparksdale
        Sparks....you like doing the stats eh? I'm a middle school coach in CT, are you telling me that your MS team plays 36 games???? Where are you, Arizona, Florida?

        Comment


        • Originally posted by tominct View Post
          Sparks....you like doing the stats eh? I'm a middle school coach in CT, are you telling me that your MS team plays 36 games???? Where are you, Arizona, Florida?
          We're in Alabama and I'll tell you it's cold cold cold cold right now. I don't know how the kids stand it. (BTW: we almost never get snow so all we have to deal with is cold)
          Starting this weekend we should start getting weather in the high 50's and even mid 60's. BTW: Most all our games are double headers usually 5 inning games and sometimes one 7 inning game and a 5 inning game.

          We played again tonight and won both games. My boy caught both games and went 2 for 5 batting with 3 walks. I tell you, it's really good for him to finally and I mean FINALLY be on a pretty good team where we usually have a good chance of winning or at least playing a competative game. Being on a good team has really excited my boy because he's always been on bad teams.

          Tomorrow we play one 7 inning game agains what we are told might be one of the best 8th grade teams in our state. The coach told my boy he's starting tomorrow so I'll get little sleep tonight...lol. Of course he's setting here next to me playing the Xbox and baseball isn't even on his mind...lol

          Sparks

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          • We had our big game today. We are told that the team we played may be the best 8th grade team in our state and if they aren't we're told they're probably one of the top 5 teams.

            My boy got the call to pitch. We played 7 innings and he pitched 6.25 (coach took him out with two outs left in the last inning because of pitch count). We won!!!!!! I kid you not when I tell you this team is a freaking hitting team.
            My boy gave up a total of 3 runs and only 2 of them were earned runs!!! We won 7 to 3.

            He struck out 8 batters and what shocks me is out of 6.25 innings he didn't walk a single batter or hit a batter. He pretty much pitched the game of his life and to top it all off he didn't have his best stuff. Early in the game he was only topping out at about 67 or 68mph... a good 3 or 4 mph off his best fastball. In the in the 5th inning you could see his arm come to life and he threw 71mph in the 6th inning.

            He didn't do so well batting. He caught a double header yesterday and his left calf muscle stiffened up on him. He said it didn't bother him pitching but it effected him batting and running. He went 1 for 4 batting today with one strike out and one walk.

            It's amazing that he pitched a great game yet his ERA went up. Go figure that. Before the game his pitching numbers were 2 wins and no losses with an ERA of 1.45. After today he has 3 wins, no losses and his ERA went up to 1.75.

            So far this year he has struck out 20 batters and walked 6.

            Long way to go in the season but we like the way it's going so far. Batting average is .353 with OB% of .511

            Sparks

            Comment


            • Tominct,
              How many games are on your MS schedule? Do you make up rain-outs?
              Our MS puts 10 on the schedule, and generally doesn't make up games.
              Skip

              Comment


              • Originally posted by skipper5 View Post
                Tominct,
                How many games are on your MS schedule? Do you make up rain-outs?
                Our MS puts 10 on the schedule, and generally doesn't make up games.
                Our school has 14-16 then playoffs
                "He who dares to teach, must never cease to learn."
                - John Cotton Dana (1856–1929) - Offered to many by L. Olson - Iowa (Teacher)
                Please read Baseball Fever Policy and Forum FAQ before posting.

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                • Originally posted by skipper5 View Post
                  Tominct,
                  How many games are on your MS schedule? Do you make up rain-outs?
                  Our MS puts 10 on the schedule, and generally doesn't make up games.
                  I think we may have 14 on our schedule this year. As for rainouts, we may try to play the next day if it's open, but we won't make it up beyond that.

                  Comment


                  • Originally posted by Sparksdale View Post
                    he threw 71mph in the 6th inning.


                    So far this year he has struck out 20 batters and walked 6.


                    Sparks
                    Where we are a 71 mph fastball means you're bringing it.

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by Sparksdale View Post
                      We had our big game today. We are told that the team we played may be the best 8th grade team in our state and if they aren't we're told they're probably one of the top 5 teams.

                      My boy got the call to pitch. We played 7 innings and he pitched 6.25 (coach took him out with two outs left in the last inning because of pitch count). We won!!!!!! I kid you not when I tell you this team is a freaking hitting team.
                      My boy gave up a total of 3 runs and only 2 of them were earned runs!!! We won 7 to 3.

                      He struck out 8 batters and what shocks me is out of 6.25 innings he didn't walk a single batter or hit a batter. He pretty much pitched the game of his life and to top it all off he didn't have his best stuff. Early in the game he was only topping out at about 67 or 68mph... a good 3 or 4 mph off his best fastball. In the in the 5th inning you could see his arm come to life and he threw 71mph in the 6th inning.

                      He didn't do so well batting. He caught a double header yesterday and his left calf muscle stiffened up on him. He said it didn't bother him pitching but it effected him batting and running. He went 1 for 4 batting today with one strike out and one walk.

                      It's amazing that he pitched a great game yet his ERA went up. Go figure that. Before the game his pitching numbers were 2 wins and no losses with an ERA of 1.45. After today he has 3 wins, no losses and his ERA went up to 1.75.

                      So far this year he has struck out 20 batters and walked 6.

                      Long way to go in the season but we like the way it's going so far. Batting average is .353 with OB% of .511

                      Sparks
                      Sparks, sounds like your son has a nice future ahead of him. One word of caution though. For some reason, kids who play the catcher and pitcher positions at the same time seem to have a higher incidence in arm trouble (that's my personal experience only). If he is throwing over 70mph as an MS player he's putting a lot of force on adolescent arm....catching a double-header and then pitching 6 innings is a lot I think. My son, who is now 16, went through a series of arm problems and I sought counsel from Jake and others re: preventative action. Pls just be careful. jima

                      Comment


                      • Originally posted by jima View Post
                        Sparks, sounds like your son has a nice future ahead of him. One word of caution though. For some reason, kids who play the catcher and pitcher positions at the same time seem to have a higher incidence in arm trouble (that's my personal experience only). If he is throwing over 70mph as an MS player he's putting a lot of force on adolescent arm....catching a double-header and then pitching 6 innings is a lot I think. My son, who is now 16, went through a series of arm problems and I sought counsel from Jake and others re: preventative action. Pls just be careful. jima
                        I fully 100% agree about pitchers also catching. We have a starting catcher that to be honest is a little better than my boy behind the plate. He is fearless and nothing gets by him and he has an above average arm. Our starting catcher got hurt a few days ago so my boy was called on to catch. My boy is the second catcher and i'm not even sure who our third catcher is so my boy had to step in for an injured player. My boy usually just plays SS and pitching and when our catcher pitches he catches him.

                        I talked to a former college player about the subject of catching/pitching. He was told by Dr. Andrews that it wasn't good for him to do both and this college player had arm troubles which shortened his carreer. He told me that if my boy "has" to catch then for him to throw the ball back to the pitcher hard instead of just tossing it. It seems its better for the arm...or so he says. My boy throws it back to the pitcher pretty hard and no more than he catches I think/hope he will be ok.

                        Thanks for the advice...believe me appreciate it.

                        Sparks

                        Comment


                        • My boy pitched again last night. Baseball is a funny thing...

                          He had by far his best stuff ever. When I use the gun on him I only use it during warmups (I don't gun him during batters). He usually takes a couple of innings to get lose but last night his first fastball hit 72mph. His arm was really really live. I clocked about 9 or 10 of his fastballs during warmups and he hit 72mph 4 times (72 is his fastest pitch that I have on record). I know he easily hit 74mph to a couple of batters I just can't prove it because I didn't have the gun on him.

                          Anyway, I think we've gotten our expectations a little high for him. As I look at his numbers this morning he actually had a pretty good game. He won the game but he couldn't find the strike zone. He struck out 6 batters and walked 4 (in three innings). The coach pulled him after 3 innings because we were winning 11 to 2 (I guess he wants to save him for a game latter in the week).

                          Yeah the umpire was a little tough but all in all he wasn't all that bad...my boy just couldn't locate all that well.

                          Anyway, he won the game of course (we played a 5 inning game) but his ERA sky rocked all the way up to 2.21 and he is upset about it. He gave up 2 earned runs last night in 3 innings but only gave up 1 hit on 4 walks... yeah the walks killed him.

                          All in all he had a pretty good night but he knows he could have done better. Of course I told him he did great because I want him to be positive. I think he's finally at the age where even if he gets a win he realizes what he needs to work on.

                          Never the less he is tied on the team with 4 wins so that is great. His batting average has dropped to .351... he wants to hit at least .400 this year.

                          We have another double header tonight but he can't pitch and our catcher pitched the second game last night so he will be playing SS. We play a team we know nothing about but unlike the team we played last night they are a 6A school so chances are they are a better team than we faced last night.

                          Till next time.....

                          Sparks

                          Comment


                          • Another game

                            We played another double header tonight.
                            My boy pitched the first game. He pitched a complete game shutout didn't walk a batter and struck out 7.
                            This was a pretty good hitting team too. He lowered his ERA down to 1.75 so far this year and has 5 wins with no losses.

                            He also raised his batting average to .396....man just a shade under .400.

                            In about two weeks we have a big game against our cross town rivals. Although I haven't seen them play this year they are always very good and they beat our 7th grade team tonight 22 to 0. I'm sure our coach will save my boy to pitch in that game....it might be his biggest challenge.

                            Also he threw his fastest pitch tonight at 73mph.

                            Sparks

                            Comment


                            • Hard to believe that baseball season is almost over.... we have a week left.

                              So far we've played 22 games and our record is 19 and 3. Due to several rain outs we're going to miss a few games this year. Too bad to because our schools record (for 8th grade teams) is 19 wins and 9 losses. Right now we are tied for most wins in the history of our school with a week left. This last week (8 days) we are playing 8 games. All we have to do is win one of them and we will have the record!! Believe me our boys really want that record.

                              This coming Monday we are playing our crosstown rivals. We hadn't heard much about them this year but they've snuck up on everyone. Someone told me there is a website somewhere that has the 8th grade baseball teams ranked in our state. I haven't been able to find it but according to this person they have the team we are going to play Monday ranked #1 and we are ranked #3. How they can rank 8th grade teams I don't know. I do know that the team we are going to play Monday has been beating everyone 20 to 0 and 25 to 0 and pretty much destroying everyone they play. They did play our 7th grade team and be them 22 to 0. We can't wait to play them...it's going to be a war...WW111

                              My boy is having a great year....he's hitting .397 right and he really wants to hit .400 or higher so bad. I hope he has a good final week so he can get that goal.

                              I'm not sure if we're going to be able to play summer ball. Our school had a summer ball team last year but it doesn't look like we'll have one this year. There is a travel team that is having tryouts but they are going to charge $750 just to be on the team. As much as I'd like my boy to play we just can't afford that. As I'm sure you are all aware $750 is just the start-up cost for travel ball when you consider all the other expenses...never the less it would be great to see him play travel ball again. He really wants too and it breaks my heart but that's a lot of money.....a lot.

                              We had a rain-out tonight and he was supposed to pitch that game. We are going to make up the two games we were going to play tonight on Saturday. I'm not sure how the coach will handle the pitching. If he pitches my boy Saturday he probably can't pitch Monday against the best team... I know my boy really wants to pitch against them. Times like this I"m glad I'm not a coach. My boy is going for the record for wins at our school (8th grade)....he is tied now with 5 and one more win and he has the record. We also have another boy on our team that has 5 wins this year. If they pitch Saturday they probably have a good chance of getting a win and thus getting the record...... BUT..... what does the coach do? Let them go for the record or have them pitch Monday (a double header) and give our team the best chance to win?

                              It's been one of the most fun years we've ever had playing ball. Selfishly I hope my boy keeps playing because I get no greater joy than watching him play. Baseball truly is the worlds best sport.

                              Sparks

                              Comment


                              • We got word today.... my boy was told at practice he will be starting Monday against what many consider the best team in our state. It's my understanding that they have been scoring around 20 runs a game against the teams they've faced so far.

                                I usually make big goals (in my mind) before my boy pitches. I always want a no hitter and if that doesn't happen maybe a shutout. I think my boy giving up 3 or 4 runs to this team would be a great night....maybe better than great. It's a great hitting team and I just don't think at this age you can shut down "great hitting".

                                My boy is excited about this coming Monday..... i'm nervous. Three days from now will be the game of the year!

                                Sparks

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