Galesburg High School baseball coach Jeremy Pickrel gives thoughts on sticky substances

Matthew Wheaton
Galesburg Register-Mail
Galesburg High School baseball coach Jeremy Pickrel gestures during the Silver Streaks' 7-6 loss to Streator in Class 3A regional semifinal action on Friday, June 4, 2021 at Jim Sundberg Field.

GALESBURG — Galesburg High School baseball coach Jeremy "Pick" Pickrel doesn't like the timing of Major League Baseball's crackdown on pitchers using foreign substances.

On Monday, umpires started checking pitchers for them more frequently.

“You are halfway through the season. It’s just weird timing I think and obviously the players are frustrated," Pickrel said Thursday evening. "They have to undress themselves to prove they aren’t using anything. I personally don’t think it was the right time to do anything like that. I also think it’s going to be difficult to get into the (collective bargaining agreement) next year. Hopefully there is no strike or anything like that.

"It’s just poor timing," he added. "Could they do anything different, possibly, but it is what it is."

Pickrel took the diamond — and the hardwood — for the Silver Streaks back in the day, as they say. 

The 2001 GHS grad continued his academic and baseball career at Illinois State University before Pickrel was selected by the Minnesota Twins in the 10th round of the 2004 MLB Draft. Pickrel was with the organization for three seasons before he was released in the spring of 2007. Pickrel then played two seasons of indy ball for three different teams in the Can Am League before calling it a career. 

Over five seasons as a pro, Pickrel played in 394 games and he had a .265 batting average with 362 hits, 41 home runs and 212 RBIs. 

When he was roaming the outfield and stepping in the batter's box, Pickrel, who was named Galesburg's mentor before the 2018 season, wasn't aware of pitchers using any foreign substances to help them get a grip on the ball.

“It wasn’t even really a thing, I don’t think," Pickrel said. "I certainly didn’t notice any of my teammates doing anything like that. Definitely guys weren’t throwing as hard.

"Obviously, you would always have a rosin bag out there," he added. "I have been hearing rosin and sunscreen or whatever but I didn’t know it was a thing.

"It didn’t affect me as a hitter. Hitting is hard enough as it is."

On the high school level, there's no need for pitchers to use any foreign substances to get a better grip on a ball. In fact, one won't normally see a rosin bag on any high school pitching mounds. 

“The balls themselves physically change as you go up levels. At the high school level the seams of a baseball are ridiculously high compared to a Major League baseball," Pickrel said. "The seams on a Major League baseball are there but they are so low I can see how it would be hard or difficult to get a grip on a ball.

"I think if you combine that with guys throwing so freaking hard now it wouldn’t surprise me if there are pitchers doing it solely for getting a grip on the ball, but at the same time if no one calls you out on it and it improves your spin rate that’s not necessarily a good thing for hitters" Pickrel added. "Again, it's already hard enough to hit. Pitchers don’t need an advantage."

None of the student-athletes Pickrel has mentored have had difficulties getting a good grip on the ball. 

"Other than a rain storm we tried to play through this year, there's been nothing grip wise," he said. "I think there is still some purity in the game at the high school level. We don’t get too crazy with any of that stuff you see in the big leagues. It’s pretty straight forward baseball.

"I don’t know of any opponents doing that and we certainly wouldn’t. It’s pretty clean at this level," Pickrel added. "And again, it really wasn’t something that I think a lot of guys thought about or talked about when I played. It was still pretty clean as far as that goes back then.

"Obviously, things have changed."

Matthew Wheaton can be reached at (309) 315-6073 or at Follow him on Twitter @matthewlwheaton