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Korean high school pitcher averaging 139 pitches per game

By Matt Snyder | Baseball Writer

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Hey everyone, it's time to scream about pitch counts again. Now, to your respective corners.

Team 1: Everyone is weak-minded these days, that's why there are so many arm injuries. Pitch counts only make it worse. If more pitchers had high workloads, their arms would be in better shape. Quit wussifying society!

Team 2: Workloads in young pitchers should be monitored heavily as the body is still growing and pitching is an unnatural motion at its core. Throwing upwards of 140 pitches a game borderlines on child abuse!

Pick your team.

OK, you ready? Here's the info:

Lee Su-min, a 17-year-old pitcher for Daegu Sangwon High School in South Korea, has thrown 974 pitches in seven appearances this season, six starts and one relief outing. He's thrown a complete game in every start. In his most recent start, Lee threw a whopping 178 pitches in 9 2/3 innings.

Now, obviously with this kind of workload, there's a reason the coach is doing it. Lee is a stud. He has a 0.44 ERA with 88 strikeouts in 62 1/3 innings this season. And due to the circumstances, both Lee and his coach believe the workload is acceptable.

"Since we're playing only on weekends, we get about five days off in between games," Lee said (Yonhap News Agency). "On my off days, I work with professional trainers at a rehab hospital (in Daegu), doing some strengthening exercises and getting massages. I am not pitching on consecutive days, and so it's OK."

That's a 17-year-old kid who loves pitching, so of course he says he's fine. Here's his coach, Park Young-jin (Yonhap News Agency):

"We're managing him so that he can throw a lot of pitches in one game and still be ready for the next game. In the second half of this year, I may use Lee as a closer and let other players start."

It's worth noting the dates of Lee's starts: March 17, 24 and 30, April 7, 13. So, yes, he's had a lot of time between starts this season. But does that make over 170 pitches in a start acceptable?

Team 1 from above might think it's OK and Team 2 probably believes Lee is being abused. At the very least, it's pretty newsworthy to see a high school pitcher go where no major league team would possibly let its starter go with 178 pitches.

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