Baseball, America’s pastime, continues to be a favorite among youths and parents alike. The combination of safety combined with a relatively cheap field often make it an earlier adoption than either football or basketball. However, the competitive nature of the game still requires quality equipment.
This may not be more important than for catchers who, more than the other players on the field, are liable to be placed in harm’s way. That is why everything from the mask to the pads to the mitt are designed to help protect the catcher.
Unfortunately, figuring out which catcher’s mitt offers the best performance and protection can be difficult. That is why we have put together a list of the top 5 best youth catcher’s mitts. We provide a thorough buyer’s guide, so you know what makes the best mitt the right choice for you.
Best Youth Catchers Mitts 2017
|Product||Size||Right-Handed Throw||Left-Handed Throw|
|Mizuno Prospect GXC105|
|Wilson A500 Baseball Glove||32"||yes||no|
|Rawlings Renegade Glove Series||31.5", 32.5"||yes||yes|
|Akadema AGC98 Prodigy Series Glove||32"||yes||yes|
|Under Armour Framer 31.5 Inch UACM-100Y||31.5"||yes||no|
1. Mizuno Prospect GXC105 – Best Performing Catcher’s Mitt
Mizuno may not grab the headlines when it comes to the top brands, but it is still well-respected and definitely provides legitimate value–especially in the amateur and below levels of play. Still, it is a bit surprising that this mitt offers the best performance out of any on our list, but it has as much to do with its market as its features.
To be fair, it is a good thing this mitt is marketed for youths, because the leather is not the highest quality–though it is not poor quality either. Simply, it will not compared to top or full grain leather. However, youth players rarely require that kind of durability from their mitts unless they start out with an oversized mitt in the first place.
Still, the dual hinged web adds a degree of comfort when closing the mitt that youths are sure to appreciate. The lining also features a butter soft polyurethan material that feels extremely comfortable–though it does not offer the protection one might prefer. However, the mitt needs a number of these features as the pocket itself is not all that deep.
2. Wilson A500 Baseball Glove – Most Protective Catcher’s Mitt
As such, it should come as no surprise that the A500 offers the best protection for youth catchers.
In terms of design, this is also one of the few youth catcher’s mitts to feature a closed back design which provides additional stability when catching extremely quick throws. On top of that, the web itself is also one of the few that offers a dual hinge, giving the catcher a more natural feel for the ball when captured.
However, this quality comes at a price, and in this instance, that price is quite literal–though this is not nearly the most expensive mitt on our list. Another issue is that this mitt is one of the more limited in terms of fit as it only offers a single size–which is transitional by nature–and only fits right handed throwers.
3. Rawlings Renegade Glove Series – Best Budget Youth Catcher’s Mitt
When it comes to baseball equipment, Rawlings is arguably the biggest competitor with Wilson for the most widely known and well-respected brand in the business. That is why it may come as a surprise that the Rawlings’ catcher’s mitt is also the least expensive on our list. In fact, even the mitt sized for older youths is reasonably priced compared to the alternatives.
Even better, Rawlings did not need to sacrifice quality to offer such a budget friendly mitt. In fact, this catcher’s mitt is made out of full-grain leather–the highest quality of leather commonly used in baseball gloves and mitts. Of course, this means that even the pre-treated mitt will still take plenty of time to fully break in and will also weigh more than some of the other mitt on our list.
In terms of performance, the pocket itself is one of the deepest on our list and features a single hinged, closed web to help secure the ball. However, this also means that retrieving the ball will be a bit delayed and require more skill when compared to some of the other mitts on our list. Moreover, this mitt does not features the same level of padding as some of the others.
4. Akadema AGC98 Prodigy Series Glove – Best Transitional Catcher’s Mitt
The Akadema may only serve a specific segment of the youth market, but it does so with almost unparalleled quality. However, this mitt is definitely intended to be used by skilled youth players who can put its benefits to good use and mitigate some of its drawbacks.
For one, this mitt is fairly expensive which, considering its features, may not be a terrible trade-off. However, this mitt is severely limited when it comes to the number of players that can use,
making it a bit of an anti-Goldilocks. Specifically, the Akadema only comes in one size–32”.
This means that the mitt will generally be a bit too large for younger players and bit too small for older youths. However, if a younger player can learn to work with the mitt or it just so happens to fit the older youth’s hand, there are few products that can compete at the highest levels of skill.
However, the cost and size will end up playing even more of a hindrance to the Akadema when you have to account for its break in period. While the steer hide leather is extremely durable, it also requires one of the longer break in periods on our list. Thankfully, the AkademaLyte backing does help mitigate this a bit and even lightens the mitt.
5. Under Armour Framer 31.5 Inch UACM-100Y – Best Under 10 Catcher’s Mitt
Under Armor has a solid reputation for manufacturing various types of sports wear, but they do not have the same cache when it comes to sports equipment. Still, the company understands what effective sports equipment requires and uses that knowledge to service and oft overlooked demographic with a high-quality product: catchers under the age of 10.
Because youth players that young are still developing their skills while simultaneously growing so fast, many brands simply do not make it a point to offer a high quality product for this age group. However, Under Armor breaks the mold by making a mitt that provides a mix of the features the youngest players need most.
Unfortunately, this mitt only comes in a single size, and most older youth players will have grown out of that size category. Moreover, because this mitt focuses exclusively on such a niche demographic, the Under Armor is the most expensive product on our list due to a smaller market. Finally, players that throw with their left hand will have to look elsewhere, as this is a right hand throw mitt only.
Youth vs Adult Mitts
It is important to keep in mind the differences between the type of players when purchasing a catcher’s mitt. The qualities that you will look for in an adult catcher’s mitt are not necessarily the same ones that will make an ideal youth catcher’s mitt. Some of the differences may be obvious while others may be a bit more counter-intuitive.
For example, the size of a youth catcher’s mitt will obviously be smaller than that of an adult’s mitt. However, sizing a catcher’s mitt, regardless the age of the player, works differently than the sizing of a glove. Moreover, the differences in size between youth and adult mitts is less than you might think. Still, even within that broad designation there can be numerous minor details which ultimately influence your decision.
For instance, if your child is just starting out, you might be tempted to purchase them the smallest mitt that still fits their hand. However, this is not a simple matter of finding the right fit as the size of the mitt will hinge just as much on your child’s skill level as it will on the size of their hand.
However, smaller mitts also require that the child play at a much higher level of skill. Larger mitts, on the other hand, do not require your child to demonstrate the same type of accuracy when trying to catch the ball due to the larger size of the pocket.
However, a larger mitt will also more obscure the ball before and after entering the pocket. This will make retrieval more difficult which can be the difference to a quick retrieval followed by throwing a runner stealing a base out or missing the tag.
When weighing these factors, it is important to recognize the relative skill levels of the players and involved as well as their physical capabilities. For instance, younger players are less likely to have developed the arm strength or throwing accuracy necessary to pick off a player trying to steal a base.
Moreover, these youngest players are also unlikely to have developed the hand eye coordination necessary to accurately catch the ball. As such, even though a larger mitt may be a bit unwieldy in their hand and take some time getting used to, it is generally a more effective sized mitt than one designed for a more skilled player.
Of course, the point at which a young player can reasonably be expected to throw the ball to second base from home will differ from player to player, as will the young player’s development of hand eye coordination and catching accuracy.
Catcher’s mitts and baseball gloves are sized completely differently. Whereas gloves are sized in terms of finger length–even the first baseman’s glove, which is also referred to as a mitt–a catcher’s mitt is sized by the circumference of the glove.
This is also in part due to the fact that catcher’s mitts do not offer an individual finger slot for every finger, instead doubling up the finger slots for the pinky and ring finger to provide more strength when closing the mitt around the ball.
Catcher’s mitts come in a range of sizes between 29 ½” to 35”. However, for players under the age of 13, it is generally advised that they use a mitt between 29 ½” and 32”. Of course, larger youth players may need to use a larger mitt than is generally offered.
Sizing a catcher’s mitt is surprisingly easy but still requires the more complicated process of sizing the youth player’s hand for a regular glove. Once you have the player’s glove size, subtract their size number from 12 ½.
Take that number and then subtract it from 34 ½ or 35–depending on whether your youth player will do better with a smaller mitt for agility and retrieval or a larger mitt for accuracy and catching area. However, this should not necessarily be taken an inviolable rule.
Outside of the size, this is arguably the most important factor when considering a youth catcher’s mitt. While this may be true more or less for other gloves–especially within the youth designation–it goes doubly so for catcher’s mitts.
This is has to do with the fact that the material plays against two basic qualities of a catcher’s mitt: flexibility and durability. Basically, the more flexible a catcher’s mitt material, the less durable that material is.
However, for youth players this can be a bit trickier in terms of preference. For instance, an adult player’s hand has likely stopped growing and has developed about as much strength as it will. In this case, opting for the most durable material makes sense.
However, for a youth player, a lower hand strength that is still developing, combined with a hand that may very well grow out of the mitt’s size before it is fully broken in can make things more complicated. Of course, your budget, the player’s age and growth rate, and the amount of time the player devotes to developing their skills can all weigh heavily when choosing a mitt’s material.
For example, if a youth player spends most of their free time working on baseball skills, you may be more inclined to opt for a higher costing material–even if they are liable to grow out of the mitt within a year or two. Of course, this may further provide value if you purchased a mitt that was slightly oversized to help provide a superior catching action for the less developed player.
On the other hand, a youth player that only plays during the spring and summer and is not truly devoted to the sport may not demand such a high quality, and high costing, mitt. These players are unlikely to develop the skill necessary or break in the mitt quickly enough to justify the higher price tag of a top tier material.
In terms of options, catcher’s mitts can use a dizzying array of materials that each offer their own advantages. Keep in mind, for youth players, flexibility will often trump durability in terms of what will provide the best value, but year-round players may benefit more from higher quality materials and ultimately save you money in the long run.
Synthetic – Most of your budget mitts will use either a low quality leather or a synthetic leather. However, this should not necessarily be seen as a bad thing. The lower quality materials may wear out more quickly and hold their shape for less time, but they are also far more flexible and require less break in time.
The youngest players who are still developing their hand strength and growing at a more rapid rate may benefit more from a synthetic leather mitt. Keep in mind, there are highly advanced forms of synthetic mitt materials, but those are professional level and do not provide significant value for youth baseball players.
Pigskin – This is the lowest grade of leather used for baseball gloves but can provide an excellent value for youth players. This material offers some similarity to synthetic leather in that it is more flexible and offers a much shorter break in period than higher quality leather.
Of course, pigskin is far less durable than high quality leather and will not retain its shape nearly as well. Of course, for an intermittent young player that may well grow out of the mitt within a season, it can provide a sweet spot of value.
Kangaroo Skin – While not used nearly as much, kangaroo skin gloves are slowly gaining traction. However, this material does not posses the same compromise of features that varying grades of leather do.
Kangaroo skin mitts are noted for being flexible and breaking in quickly. Moreover, these mitts also weigh far less than traditional leather. However, they are not noted for holding their shape that long.
To make matters worse, there is no standard pricing for kangaroo skin. Some manufacturers reserve this material for their premium mitts while others only use it with budget mitts. A workaround is to get a glove with leather palms and pockets and a kangaroo skin back, getting the best of both worlds.
Cow Hide – Cow hide is technically considered the midway point of catcher’s mitt leather quality, though it should be noted that this is often the lowest quality leather that serious players will consider using. Still, there can be solid value found here for youth players that use their mitt all the time.
Following the traditional scale, cow hide mitts are fairly flexible and do not require a significant break in period, but they will still need to be worked with more than the previous materials. This material is not as durable as higher grades of leather but will not lose its shape all that quickly either. Cow hide also often comes pre-oiled which further reduces the break in time.
“Premium” Steer Hide – This material is significantly stronger than cowhide, however it is also far stiffer as well. This means that steer hide will require a much longer break in time, potentially requiring months, before it is ready for play.
However, this material is a bit more of a catch-all for high quality leather mitts as the different grain designations are both made from steer hide. You will need to consider carefully your youth’s mitt needs before purchasing a steer hide mitt.
Top Grain – This material is made from steer hide which has been sanded down to the appropriate thickness. Then an artificial material is pressed onto the leather as a filler which treats the natural leather.
Unfortunately, different brands use different manufacturing processes, so top grain leather can come in a variety of qualities. Some brands’ top grain leather is incredibly stiff and durable, while other brands’ top leather offers decent durability with a lighter weight.
Full Grain – This is considered the standard premium leather used for catcher’s mitts. In fact, due to its incredible strength and durability, most professional catcher’s mitts are made out of full grain leather.
Of course, youth players rarely require a mitt of this caliber and may very well grow out of the mitt before they have a chance to fully break it in. Break in periods for full grain leather can take months which makes purchasing a mitt of this material a bit tricky.
Considering it is one of the most expensive materials available, you are unlikely to get a great value out of a full grain leather catcher’s mitt unless you have multiple youth players to whom it can be passed down once the older sibling grows out of it.
Buffalo – This is easily the most expensive material available for catcher’s mitts. However, this material is also the toughest, most durable leather used while still being lighter than any grain of steer leather.
This makes the break in time comparable while offering far more durability. Much like full grain leather, unless multiple youth players will use this material, you are unlikely to get your money’s worth from it–not to mention the tricky position of buying it at the right time to account for the extended break in period.
After sizing and materials, padding is seen as the next most important quality when selecting a catcher’s mitt. In fact, adult players will generally assume to go with a full grain steer hide leather and place this quality as the second most important consideration.
However, youth players have a bit more wiggle room when it comes to the padding of their catcher’s mitt. Of course, this factor will depend heavily on the age of the youth player as well as their league’s relative skill level.
Basically, most youth players are simply not capable of throwing the ball hard enough to demand the level of padding that adult mitts require. Keep in mind, padding also serve to extend the youth player’s hand endurance, so it should not necessarily be ignored altogether.
Still, if your player is exceptionally young or plays in a league that is not as highly skilled, generally a local league that is not part of a large league organization, the additional padding is often not necessary. In this case, you can save money on a lower grade leather and look for a mitt that favors comfort over other qualities.
However, for players of minor and major little leagues or those that are designed for more competitive play like Pony League, they are likely to encounter harder thrown balls. Moreover, if they play in a league with player pitching, they may be better suited to need the additional padding that better mitts provide.
It may seem counter intuitive, but a catcher’s mitt is actually not designed to have a large pocket. Despite the fact that the pocket and webbing are generally what is used to capture the ball in both gloves and mitts, a catcher’s mitt needs to balance the ability to catch the ball with the ability to quickly and easily retrieve the ball.
Considering the sheer size of a catcher’s mitt compared to a glove, the catcher is already at somewhat of a disadvantage when it comes to ball retrieval. As such, their pockets generally tend to be proportionally smaller when compared to gloves.
However, youth catcher’s mitts have a tendency to provide a slightly oversized pocket to aid in catching the ball. Of course, there are youth catcher’s mitts with smaller pockets for more advanced youth players.
Due to the need to catch fastballs and other quick throws, a catcher’s mitt will generally feature a closed web. However, there are a few open webbed catcher’s mitts on the market–though, they are most definitely the exception and not the rule. Moreover, open webbed catcher’s mitts are often billed as suitable for both baseball and softball–where an open web helps trap the oversized ball better.
In this case, the need for visibility may trump capturing the ball. Basically, if the youth uses a slightly oversized mitt to help catch the ball, they may want to look for one of the few open webbed mitts to provide improved visibility.
One thing to keep in mind is that the lacing on a catcher’s mitt webbing should be heavy–regardless of whether it is open or closed. In fact, open webbed catcher’s mitts arguably require heavier lacing than closed webbed due to the slightly weaker web.
Most catcher’s mitts will feature a closed back. This is so the catcher’s wrist is more stabilized against the harder throws from the pitcher and other players. However, many youth catcher’s may not have the need for the additional stability a closed back provides.
In this instance, a youth player may prefer the additional flexibility that an open backed catcher’s mitt offers instead. This may be even more relevant for youth catcher’s mitts that are made out of high quality leather and inherently stiffer or less flexible.
Catcher’s mitts can be either single or dual hinged, and both provide advantages or disadvantages depending on the player’s skill level and hand strength. However, it should be noted that the traditional hinge for a baseball catcher’s mitt is single hinged for catching, while softball catcher’s mitts are more likely to be dual hinged to aid in blocking.
Still, even baseball catchers, especially youth players, may prefer a dual hinged mitt, because it feels more like using your entire hand to catch the ball. Single hinged mitts have a tendency to feel like you are pinching the ball with your hand rather than catching it.
In the end, the best youth catcher’s mitt will not be an answer that satisfies all players. If your youth player could do with a bit of assistance, then the Mizuno Prospect offers arguably the easiest closing action on our list.
However, once your youth develops the skills to start playing with the big boys, they will need a mitt that offers solid performance with additional protection from 50+ mph fastballs. That is where Wilson takes center stage and truly shines with more padding and protection than any on our list.
Of course, if you are looking for a high quality youth catcher’s mitt on a budget, Rawlings offers the least expensive product on our list. Moreover, any type of catcher, including the older youths, can find a mitt that fits their hand and throwing style.