High School Pitchers

By Steven Ellis, former Chicago Cubs pitching pro

One of the most challenging and stressful times for a high school baseball player is the freshmen tryouts. Freshmen year, the largest number of athletes show up for tryouts, and many cuts are made. There are a few things that a player should consider going into their tryout that may help them make the team over another player.

Coaches look for hustle. If a player is running from point A to point B, he will stand out more than the guy who is walking from station to station. In a large group of players, it is very important for a player to stand out (in the right way), and hustling is a great way to make the coaches take notice. It doesn’t take a lot of energy to jog to where you are supposed to be, and this extra effort may help sway the coach’s decision when it comes time to make cuts.

A player should look like a baseball player. This may seem trivial, but a coach may look at a player dressed like a slob and subconsciously hold it against them. Wearing baseball pants, a baseball hat facing forward, and even a tucked in shirt are all a positive in a coach’s eyes. Wearing shorts and no hat will give the coach the impression that the player doesn’t care about the game or how they play.  Even if most of the other athletes aren’t wearing full baseball attire, it doesn’t hurt to be the only one wearing proper clothing. It shows the coach that the athlete truly is dedicated to the game.

Being able to hit is a necessity for a freshmen tryout out for high school baseball. At that age, there is no such thing as a pitcher-only, and it is very rare for a player to make the team solely on their fielding ability. For every great defensive player, there is another great defensive player that can hit as well. Likewise, for every great pitcher, there is another great pitcher who can hit and even play some third base. A coach will take a player who is perceived as more valuable to the program. A good hitter will almost always make the team over a good fielder. My high school coach believes that you can take a good hitter and teach him to play the field, but it’s hard to take a good fielder and teach him how to hit.

You may be thinking that your son is the world’s greatest shortstop. That may have been true in Little League, but there could be a new shortstop from another town going to your son’s high school that is more talented. This is when it is important to have depth at different positions. Every season there are always 15 players trying out at shortstop, yet only one will start. If however, one of those shortstops can also play outfield or catcher, his value to the team increases exponentially. If he can swing a good bat, a spot on the team just might have his name on it.

The key to making the freshmen baseball team is threefold. A player must be able to hit, they should be able to play more than one position, and they should act and look like a baseball player. If your player can do these three things, they are in great shape for their freshmen tryouts.


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