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Tuesday, January 25, 2011
What Baseball Scouts Are Looking For - A Parents' Perspective
What Baseball Scouts Are Looking For - A Parents' Perspective
By Jack Perconte
Trying to understand baseball scouting can be confusing and frustrating for hopeful baseball players, parents and coaches. Why some players are considered "prospects" and get drafted whereas other players who appear to be more successful are not given the time of day, creates the confusion and frustration.
Before going into detail on what baseball scouts are looking for when scouting, there are some questions players and parents should answer as to whether a player is a possible draft choice.
1. Is the position player far and away the best athlete on the team? If a player is not the best athlete on a high school or college team, chances are they do not have major league potential. The only exception is a hitter who has unbelievable power.
2. Does the player or pitcher dominate at his level or have the "wow" factor? This player may or may not have overwhelming statistics but they definitely possess the "wow" factor. A player who displays a skill where everyone watching says "wow" is what I am talking about. Chances are if the player does not over-match or show the wow factor at the pre-professional level, they are not good enough to merit a professional opportunity.
3. Even if a player dominates, is the competition level advanced enough to determine that a player may have pro potential? It is important to watch how a player does when facing the top players on the opposing teams. Many players can dominate against average competition but not against the top competition.
4. Does the player appear to have a love of playing baseball? Many apparently dominant players are never drafted because they do not have a passion for the game. Without an intense passion for the game, scouts know that players will never withstand the rigors of a 162 game season.
I have had many experiences dealing with baseball scouts on my way to a major league career, as well as helping my son play professional baseball. I was a player who had borderline major league skills but was drafted in the major league draft. My son, who has very projectable major league skills, never was drafted into professional baseball. Once again, understanding what scouts are looking for can be confusing and frustrating, but there is a method to the madness.
It is important to understand a couple of common baseball terms that baseball scouts use. The first one is projectable. Baseball scouts are in the business of projecting where a baseball player will be in a few years. They look at players' physical attributes and try to determine if they can realistically play major league baseball. The second term that is necessary to understand is tools. In baseball, scouts rate players tools - running, throwing, fielding, hitting and hitting with power for position players. Pitchers tools are rated on a different scale - arm speed, arm action, arm strength, off speed pitches and control.
Players must possess "plus tools" by the time they reach draft age in order for scouts to consider them for the major league draft. Observing scouts must feel like a drafted player can develop and refine their advanced tools to major league caliber skills. Rarely will a player develop professional tools if they are not evident by the time a player reaches draft age, 18 to 21 years old. Therefore, if a player cannot run, throw or hit close to major league skill levels by these ages, they will not be drafted into professional baseball.
What are those levels for position players?
1. Players must be able to throw the ball at least 85 miles an hour.
2. They must be able to run the 40-yard dash well under 5 seconds, with catchers given a slight exception.
3. They must be able to get the ball to jump off their bat producing groundballs that get through infield holes and line drives that can get to and through the gaps in the outfield, if not out of the park.
4. They must have good hands where they can develop the ability to catch balls hit at major league speeds.
1. Must be able to throw the ball 90 mile an hours or higher. Pitchers who throw in the high eighties must have great ball movement, control and off-speed pitches.
2. Must display an easy-throwing arm action and demonstrate a respectable amount of control.
Most drafted players have exceptional tools in one or two of the areas and are average in the others tools. Potential star players have the ability to be well above average in all the tools. Baseball scouts are most interested in players' raw skills and not necessarily as concerned with a player's statistics. Scouts ask themselves, "With the proper training, do I see this player playing in the major leagues in a few years?" If they can answer yes to this question, the player is put on the scouting list to be further watched for the intangibles of attitude, heart, character and work ethic.
Once a baseball scout believes a player has potential major league skills and the listed intangibles, they have a good chance of being drafted. Of course, it is not an exact science because a few potential major league players slip through, but baseball scouts do have an advanced, keen eye for talent.
Former major league baseball player, Jack Perconte gives baseball hitting tips and batting practice advice for ballplayers of all ages. His baseball playing lessons, books and advice can be found at http://www.baseballhittinglessons.com/baseball. Jack is the author of two books, The Making of a Hitter and Raising an Athlete - his positive parenting advice and books can be found at http://positiveparentinginsports.com.
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