Knowing WHAT Baseball Scouts are Looking For
What are Baseball Scouts Looking For?
If you are trying to work out baseball scouts and what they are looking for, than you have come to the right place!
It can be totally frustrating and confusing for the young, hopeful baseball player, the parents, not to mention the coach. Why is it that one player is deemed to be a "prospect", and actually does eventually enter the draft, but another, who appears to be far more successful on the field does not even seem to rate consideration?
This situation obviously creates a great deal of frustration and confusion amongst everyone concerned!
A player, and parents, should ask, and answer the following questions as to if a player has the possibility of being a draft choice.
- Is the player the best athlete on the team? But not only the best, but way and way superior to the rest of the team? The odds are against a player who is not far and away the best athlete on the high school or college team having the potential to make it in the major league. An exception to this general rule is a hitter who has exceptional power.
- Is the player or pitcher dominating at the current level? Or does the player have "IT"? The particular player may not have the most outstanding statistics (although they may have them) but what they most certainly have is "IT". This player displays a skill, or skills, that when everybody is watching, the common reaction is "Wow, how did he do that?" You all know that feeling when you see it happening! The odds are that if a player does not dominate or show "IT" at this level of the game then they are not good enough to be worthy of a professional try-out.
- Having said that, if the player is dominating at the current level, what is the competition like at this level? Is it high enough to judge if the player has potential at the professional level? Most importantly, watch how the player performs when up against the best opposition players. A lot of players are able to dominate when the competition is only average, but are not able to repeat this when facing the best in their particular competition.
- This may seem to be rather an obvious question, but, does the player love playing baseball? Many players, who are apparently dominating the opposition players are never drafted because of this very reason. They just do not have and display the passion for the game. Without this intensity of passion, the baseball scouts know that a player will never hold up in the game in a full pro season.
What are baseball scouts looking for when they are out scouting?
Just to repeat, trying to understand what baseball scouts are looking for can be both frustrating and confusing. Having said that, there is method in what appears from the outside to be madness.
It is worthwhile getting to understand some of the common baseball terminology that baseball scouts use in their selection process. The first of these terms is "projectable". Baseball scouts project in their mind's eye where a particular baseball player will be in a few years time. They assess the player's physical attributes as they are today and try to decide if that player will be able to play major league baseball at that point of time in the future. Another term requiring understanding is "tools". The baseball scouts rate "player's tools". For position players these are running, throwing, fielding, hitting and hitting with power. "Pitcher's tools" are somewhat different. These are arm speed, arm action, arm strength, off speed pitching and control.
The player must possess what is called "plus tools" when they have reached draft age if baseball scouts are going to consider the player for the major league draft. From observing likely players, baseball scouts must believe that any particular player, if drafted, will develop and refine their already advanced tools to a major league standard. A player will rarely develop professional tools if they are not in evidence by the time the player has reached the draft age between 18 and 21 years of age. If by this age the player is unable to run, throw or hit at a standard that is very close to the major league skill level requirements, the baseball scouts will not draft the player into the professional baseball ranks.
Levels for Position Players
- A player must be able to throw a baseball at a speed of at least 85 mph.
- A player must be able to run a 40 yard dash in well under 5 seconds. Catchers are given a slight amount of leeway in this area.
- A player must be able to hit the ball in such a fashion that a ground ball is able to pierce the infield defenses and line drives are able to get through the gaps in the outfield. In addition to these skills, the ability to hit the ball out of the park is a definite plus, in fact, the more times the better!
- A player must have good hands. The ability to be able to develop to catch balls hit at major league speeds is a necessity.
Levels for Pitchers:
- A pitcher must be able to throw the ball at 90 mph or better. A pitcher who is only able to throw in the high eighties must also have the abilities of great ball movement in the air, far better control and off the pace pitches in their armory. Must have 2nd and 3rd pitches well above average. Lefties can be 1-2mph slower.
- A pitcher must have an easy throwing arm action and produce a good level of control.
Players Who are Drafted
The majority of players drafted have exceptional tools in one or two of the above areas and are usually average in the others tools. Potential top players display abilities well above average in all of the tools. Baseball scouts are very interested in a player's raw skill levels and are not as concerned with a player's statistics. In their mind's eye baseball scouts ask "With proper training, can I see this particular player performing in the major leagues in a few years time?". A "Yes" answer will put the player onto the list of players to be watched closely for the intangibles of character, heart, attitude and their work ethic.
If a baseball scout reaches the opinion that a particular player has potential major league skills and all the intangibles, than that player has a very good chance of being drafted.
Unfortunately, all of this is not a precise science. A few potential major league players will slip through the cracks. Having said that, baseball scouts do have a well developed, keen eye for talent. You have to remember, their livelihood depends on being able to spot talent, but it must be talent that will deliver the goods in the future!
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