PREP BASEBALL: Minnesota mulls limiting pitch count in high school baseball
The Minnesota high school baseball season is winding down. When it starts up again in 2017, the games could have a different feel. The Minnesota State High School League wants to implement a pitch count limit next season based on concerns of arm ...
The Minnesota high school baseball season is winding down. When it starts up again in 2017, the games could have a different feel.
The Minnesota State High School League wants to implement a pitch count limit next season based on concerns of arm overuse by young pitchers.
The league's proposal, which will be reviewed by members of the coaches association at a meeting in October, is broken down by age.
For juniors and seniors, the pitch limit would be 105, which would then require three days of rest. If a player throws 75 pitches, two days of rest are required. If a player throws 30 pitches, he can pitch back-to-back days but must rest the third day.
For sophomores and younger, players could throw 85 pitches, followed by three days of rest.
For postseason play, the league is looking at boosting pitch limits by 10.
East Grand Forks Senior High coach Anthony Walsh said he currently counts pitches, but he alters that total's meaning with weather as a variable.
"Early in the season, I don't like guys getting over 65-70 pitches when it's 50 degrees," Walsh said. "It's different when we're in May, and it's 75-80 degrees out.
"I think the state as a whole has to become better educated about throwing injuries."
East Grand Forks Sacred heart coach Paul Bethke said his team also closely monitors pitches.
"We don't have a clear-cut rule, but we do pay attention," Bethke said. "We start looking around 75 pitches. It depends who it is, too. But we get in that 75-80 range, and we're already looking what to do next."
Bethke said spring weather would make this rule change a challenge. Rainouts can often force teams to play five or six games in a week.
"You have 11 or 12 guys on a varsity team, so it would create some definite strategy," Bethke said. "You have to think of the health of your arms, but it could be interesting if you have to come through a loser's bracket of one of these tournaments."
Colorado, Kentucky and Vermont currently are the only states using a pitch count in high school. Minnesota, Alabama, Arizona and Wisconsin are planning to implement one next season, while Oklahoma, Texas and Washington are also in the development stage.
The current rule in Minnesota is 14 innings every three days.
In North Dakota, a player may not exceed 12 innings pitched during any three consecutive day tournament and can never exceed 14 innings pitched during any seven-day period.
Justin Fletschock, North Dakota High School Activities Association's assistant director, said he hasn't heard the topic discussed among North Dakota coaches, although he said the discussion could take place during next weekend's state Class A (Jamestown) and Class B (Fargo) tournaments. The baseball advisory committees meet during this time.
"We're seeing it more in southern states where they play more," said Fletschock, a former North Dakota State pitcher and Central Cass baseball coach. "We're fine with pitch counts if that's what the coaches want, but the ball is in their court at the meetings."