About Jake Chapman

Jake Chapman is a Co-Founder of Showcase U and a former professional baseball player of 8 years. His passion for helping student-athletes and their parents stems from a very unsatisfying experience in his own, personal college recruiting process. This blog includes helpful dos and don’ts, personal stories and anecdotes, and heartfelt advice to families looking for ways to help themselves.

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March 28, 2011

Arm Care and Pitch Count Advice for Young Pitchers: A Guest Blog

By Jake Chapman, Showcase U Co-founder

  Brandon Agamennone

    Founder of Pro Source Athletics

  Guest Blog

  Topic:  Arm Care and Pitch Count for Young Pitchers

So far this baseball season I have gotten at least 10 phone calls and had another dozen or so conversations with parents regarding pitch counts and abuses on the mound.  At this point, there is so much information out there medically and scientifically that it would be considered malpractice by a coach to allow a pitcher to throw an extreme amount of pitches all for the sake of a meaningless win at 10u through HS baseball.  So far this year I have gotten reports  of a 13 year old throwing 167 pitches in a 2 day time period, a 14 year old throw 119 pitch complete game last week , a 16 year old throw 145 pitches and another 18 year old throw over 200 pitches in a 3 day span.  This is stupidity at the highest level. 

If I were a parent of one of these boys this would enrage me.  The reason for this is simple.  This is NOT the Major Leagues.  These boys are not under multi-million dollar contracts and have insurance on their arms.  When you hear big league managers/pitching coaches allow a MLB pitcher to go 135+pitches it is not comparable to youth baseball in any way, shape or form.  The reason for this is the MLB pitchers for the most part have a very good understanding of their body, their mechanics and how to throw to take stress off of their arms and transfer that to the rest of the larger muscles and have been training properly for the entire off season and by the way are full grown men who are much stronger and their bodies able to handle that type of stress much better.  They also have been through a building up process in spring training to get their arms ready. 

The other side of this is development.  At younger ages, you usually have two “pitchers” on a team who just happen to have good arms and throw harder than the rest of their teammates so they get most of the time on the mound.  This means that a guy who may have huge upside on the mound but has control problems never gets a real chance to work through some of his issues because a coach is “scared” to put him on the mound because they might lose if he pitches…call the therapist, the kids will never recover emotionally or mentally if they lose a game!  Actually, it’s the coach who is finding his self-worth through winning a 12U or HS game that needs the help.  The kids will be fine, they just want to play the game and be taught well!

      Amount of pitching:

Age            Max pitches/game    Max games/week
8-10             52 +or- 10                  2   +or-  0.6
11-12           68 +/- 10                        same
13-14           76 +/- 10                        same
15-16           91 +/- 5                          same
17-18           106 +/- 5                        same

 These are the pitch counts from Dr. James Andrews group and ASMI in Birmingham, AL.  He was my surgeon on my Tommy John surgery.  The part to understand in these numbers is that these are not a starting point.  They are a MAXIMUM, meaning if it is March, these kids should not be at their maximum number of pitches but they should be much lower than this and giving some of the other guys on the team a chance to develop as well and not just worrying about a win.  Also keep in mind it is not the number of innings a kid throws but the number of pitches and you combine high pitch counts with poor physical conditioning and a lack of good throwing mechanics(there is a right and wrong way to throw a baseball) and you are just asking for your kid to end up on the sidelines or on the operating table.

If it were my son, there is no way I allow these abuses to go on.  Say something to the “coach” or pull him off the team.  It’s that simple.  For what it’s worth, my 13u team went 29-15 last year and not one pitcher threw over 75 pitches, we are 8-3 to start out this year and we have not had one throw over 60 pitches so far.  Could we win a few more games by keeping a guy in there longer…probably.  Do I care? No.  Do you?


 Brandon serves as the Founder and President of Pro Source Athletics. He played with the Montreal Expo, Baltimore Oriole and Pittsburgh Pirate organizations, amassing a professional record of 42 wins and 18 losses and an earned run average of 3.68. Brandon has a true heart for development of young ballplayers. He is dedicated to helping young players maximize their performance on and off the field. A Maryland native, he graduated from Arundel High School in 1994, where he was an All-American pitcher and outfielder. He was a member of the 1993 National Championship Team and then won the MVP award at the Crown All-Star Game at Camden Yards. In 1994 Brandon was awarded the Maryland HS Player-of-the-Year, and Maryland State Legion Tournament MVP honors and was also the Gatorade Circle of Champions Player of the Year for the state of Maryland. Brandon attended the University of Maryland on a baseball scholarship where he was an honor roll student-athlete, the All-Time leader in career starts and innings pitched and was second all-time in strikeouts. Drafted by the Montreal Expos in 1998, Brandon was selected as pitcher of the month in July 1998 and was also a member of the 1999 Eastern League championship team. Brandon has an extensive public speaking background that includes speaking to over 50 schools on anti-tobacco and anti-drug awareness. He has also spoken at events on behalf of Athletes in Action and the Johns Hopkins Children's Oncology Center. Brandon is a 1998 graduate of the University of Maryland with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication.

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