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Opinion: Should Young Catchers Call Pitches?

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crossposted on Checkswing.com

The biggest reason in my opinion is the number of games that are played between teams. In a typical high school league, teams may play each other 3 times and that's all. The rest of their schedule are mostly one gamers. This gives absolutely no time to record and remember tendencies. This is the largest reason that coaches need to call pitches.

The second reason lies with learning and execution. In high school, players are still dealing with learning with all the subtleties of the game, plus their swings, plus their defense, plus...u get the idea? Among all that, expecting catchers to learn tendencies and sequences for hitters they may only see 6-9 times the whole season at the most is not enough.

Another reason is that novice catchers (novice in EXPERIENCE, not ABILITY) in most cases can't read hitters reaction to pitches as easily as the coaches can from their view in the dugout. As catchers are focused on receiving the pitch, blocking, runners on base, etc...it takes away from concentrating on the batter's reaction to the pitch, which is what I'm looking for. Did his hands drop, did he swing, what did the swing look like? These are all questions I deal with each and every pitch I call.

This is not a new trend. Calling pitches and plays have been in baseball for years. You hardly see it at the pro level, although watch Mike Napoli from the Angels look at Scioscia in key situations. As a coach, I'd rather the responsibility be placed on me to make a good pitch call. I know without a complex system, I can usually pick a coach's pitch signs within the first 2 innings. With the advent of the new "quarterback" calling system, it can make coaching signs virtually un-pickable. The only problem I see is that coaches calling pitches can slow down the tempo of the game if they're not quick enough.

Coaches calling pitches is only good for the kids if the coaches are teaching and explaining their calls after an inning, game, etc. Kids then begin to learn the philosophy of calling pitches and key points to look for on hitters. If the game is out of hand, or there's some room in the score...I will allow my young catchers to call their game and instruct accordingly. But when it counts, I'd rather make a bad pitch call myself, than have my kid make the mistake.

Hope this helps,

Coach Corral
TeachingBetterBaseball.com

 

Double Cut Relay Left Field Line

The Double Cut relay is one of the most beautifully choreagraphed plays in all of baseball.  The Double Cut is the defense's strongest weapon against balls hit down the line or in the alleys.  It requires speed, communication and quick decision making from all players on the field.  The relay's primary goal is to throw out the lead runner trying to score, while the secondary goal is to stop all runners from advancing extra bases.

A Double Cut situation is needed on ALL balls hit to the fence down the line or in the gaps.  In these cases, unless the runners are ridiculously slow, the defense must assume the runner(s) will advance at least two bases, so the defense will set up three (3) bases ahead of the lead runner.  In the flash video on the left, the offense starts with a runner on first base and a ball is hit down the left field line to the fence.

Step 1:  Immediately, the defense assumes a two-base advance, so the relay will be set up to throw to home plate (Runner 1st, three bases away).

Step 2:  Both LF and CF will sprint to the ball.  While the LF will most likely get to the ball first, the CF is there to help back up and help communicate the relay if necessary.  The RF moves down towards the infield to help back up a possible back pick throw to 2B.

Step 3:  The shortstop and second baseman will sprint into relay position, calling to the outfielders for the relay as loudly as possible.  In most cases, the shortstop will handle the lead relay while the second baseman positions himself 5 yards behind the shortstop to protect from any errant throws over the SS's head or short hops.  The relay must be seamless and any missed throws will allow the runners to advance and score, so the second baseman's responsibility is extremely important to this play.  In a perfect relay, you should be able to draw a straight line from the LF, through the relay INFs to the target; in this case, home plate.

Step 4:  While the third baseman covers 3B, the first baseman sprints to second base (trailing the runner) and awaits a possible back pick play to 2B.  This is extremely important, as more often than not, most of the attention is focused on the primary runner and a play at 3B or Home plate.  Many times, the trailing runner can lose focus and round 2B too far and can be back picked at 2B so LOOK FOR THIS PLAY.

Step 5:  The Catcher remains at home and directs the play, lining up the relay Infielders and making the final decision on which option the defense will take.

Option 1: (Primary Play) Relay to HOME
Option 2: Relay/Backpick to 3B
Option 3: Backpick to 2B

Shown at Left:  Option 2

In this video, the defense realizes that although the lead runner (primary play) will score, the batter runner can be easily thrown out at 3B.  The Catcher in this case makes the decision to divert the relay to 3B and nail the batter runner at 3rd.
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