What are a scouts looking for in the swing?

There are so many new school philosophies in hitting. Especially now that Josh Donaldson has put his opinions out to the public. But what are scouts actually looking for? And why is there so many new school online swing coaches but the D1 and pro guys are still mostly teaching the "old school" approach? What should we really be teaching these kids? 

Original Post

Trends in MLB come and go but there is always a place in Baseball for hitters who consistently produce hard hit line drives.

What a ton of online hitting gurus miss is how short & quick you have to be to the ball in order to catch up to 95 mph!  They are watching slow motion videos and really focusing on the barrel instead of focusing on the hands.  The online gurus are teaching swings that will produce fly ball HR's vs 80 mph high school kids, but that swing will fail at the next level

just my humble opinion

The Cliff Notes of the article & what a Pro Scout is looking for are here:

1: Athleticism / Looseness

2: Bat Speed

3: Some feel For the Bat Head

4: Some Sense of a Plan / Discipline / Pitch Recognition

Stats at the HS level would meaningless. It's all about projection.

Steve A nails it!  If you notice there is not a single reference to mechanics.  

I am a average fan, dad, coach, ex HS player, student of the game, that has a 16yr old son.  Even with my limited experience, it's not hard to recognize a good swing.  It stands out!  Imagine what a professional Scout or RC sees???

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pWgyy_rlmag

"If he is a good hitter why doesn't he hit good?"  Love this line!   

Steve A. posted:

The Cliff Notes of the article & what a Pro Scout is looking for are here:

1: Athleticism / Looseness

2: Bat Speed

3: Some feel For the Bat Head

4: Some Sense of a Plan / Discipline / Pitch Recognition

Stats at the HS level would meaningless. It's all about projection.

Great list, thanks.  So what is "looseness"?  When I think of looseness I think of Ken Griffey Jr.  But then I look at Mike Trout and I see short and direct but I don't think of his swing as loose.  Both are obviously terrific swings.

Smitty28 posted:
Steve A. posted:

The Cliff Notes of the article & what a Pro Scout is looking for are here:

1: Athleticism / Looseness

2: Bat Speed

3: Some feel For the Bat Head

4: Some Sense of a Plan / Discipline / Pitch Recognition

Stats at the HS level would meaningless. It's all about projection.

Great list, thanks.  So what is "looseness"?  When I think of looseness I think of Ken Griffey Jr.  But then I look at Mike Trout and I see short and direct but I don't think of his swing as loose.  Both are obviously terrific swings.

Too funny! I thought of Trout immediately as well. I would not describe him as "loose" like maybe a Carlos Gonzalez or Griffey by any stretch. He just has a different body type; thicker; shorter arms so it looks tighter. What he does have is bat speed or quickness with no rigidity. It flows but is just so quick it looks tight I think.

So "looseness" may be a bit misleading but they want an easy swing with low effort looseness, quick hands & some pop to all fields, with ability to turn on it & jerk one out. Manny Machado comes to mind for me.

Years ago, when I had the opportunity to play against Willie Mays "All Stars". I noticed the hitting approach Henry Aaron and Ernie Banks were at the plate. Henry looked like he was sleeping

until our Army pitcher [ex-pro player] threw the ball. Henry hit it like a "golf" tee shot our SS jump and ball keep climbing until it traveled over the light towers at Dudley Field in El Paso Texas. I whispered to our 2b "He woke up"!

Personally, I copied Ernie Banks swing and his mental approach. He was observant of everything on the field, the wind, the speed of the infield and the patterns of the catcher and pitcher. He was relaxed to the point of explosion. a truly great hitter. "Mr Cub"

Bob

real green posted:

Steve A nails it!  If you notice there is not a single reference to mechanics.  

I am a average fan, dad, coach, ex HS player, student of the game, that has a 16yr old son.  Even with my limited experience, it's not hard to recognize a good swing.  It stands out!  Imagine what a professional Scout or RC sees???

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pWgyy_rlmag

"If he is a good hitter why doesn't he hit good?"  Love this line!   

"he has an ugly girlfriend, he has no confidence" Love this line!

Steve A. posted:

Go to PG site & pull up Manny Machado & watch his hit video from 2009 when he was 16 & you will see exactly what they are looking for as described above. Low effort, loose, bat control, athletic, quickness.

Yeah, no doubt Machado has a great swing that is loose.  I guess I'm thinking that #1 above should be amended to say loose or short/quick, or something like this.  There should be a bucket to put Trout (and Trumbo and others) in that isn't defined by looseness.

You can spot a fluid swing that looks somewhat effortless.  You can spot bat speed, pitch recognition and barrel control.  And still there are some that show those things and still can't hit.  There is a reason scouts flock to see top prospects play live.  They have already seen the swing, they want to see results of that swing against the best possible pitching.  By results I don't mean statistics.  Sometimes the best hitter goes 0-4.

So to answer the question, scouts are looking for hitters that hit well against good pitching. The swing can look perfect, but that is nowhere near enough.  Lots of great looking swings that don't hit.   Should add... not many bad looking swings that can hit.  Hitting does involve natural ability, but hitters also evolve over time.

If I were to give one simple tip to a young prospect without talking about mechanics...  Be aggressive, but never to the point where you are out of control. 

I'm a believer that the biggest difference in hitters isn't the swing as much as it is what's between the ears of hitters.  But that is another subject.

During our 2004 Area Code games, a player from Rochester, New York was a favorite of the scouts. He was a football players with many college scholarships. During the games he "struck out" the majority of his AB. I asked a scout "he not as good as we thought".

The scout remarked "No Bob he has "bat speed". Next he was a 1st round draft of the Royals.

Received a "cup of coffee" in the ML.

Question: "can you teach a player to be "loose"?

Bob

"founder" of the Area Code games and Goodwill Series [1983-2017]

PGStaff posted:

You can spot a fluid swing that looks somewhat effortless.  You can spot bat speed, pitch recognition and barrel control.  And still there are some that show those things and still can't hit.  There is a reason scouts flock to see top prospects play live.  They have already seen the swing, they want to see results of that swing against the best possible pitching.  By results I don't mean statistics.  Sometimes the best hitter goes 0-4.

So to answer the question, scouts are looking for hitters that hit well against good pitching. The swing can look perfect, but that is nowhere near enough.  Lots of great looking swings that don't hit.   Should add... not many bad looking swings that can hit.  Hitting does involve natural ability, but hitters also evolve over time.

If I were to give one simple tip to a young prospect without talking about mechanics...  Be aggressive, but never to the point where you are out of control. 

I'm a believer that the biggest difference in hitters isn't the swing as much as it is what's between the ears of hitters.  But that is another subject.

I'm a believer that the biggest difference in hitters isn't the swing as much as it is what's between the ears of hitters. But that i

 

This is probably the most important statement that determins what a good hitter is.  Understanding the game and being a student of the game.  So simple yet so difficult to achieve. 

I decided to go ahead and ask a scout as I thought this was a great question.  Here's what he said to me.

 "In a nutshell there are many components.  I am looking for hitters that have bat speed in a fluid, easy swing.  The approach should be balanced, using the whole field and generate hard contact."

mechanics have their place and what looks effortless is likely a combination of good mechanics that make the swing appear to require less effort and physical ability..    I hate to bring up golf,   but just watch pro's make 120 mph swings and make it look easy and then your avg wkd duffer swing out of their shoes and still cant produce a 95 mph driver swing.   

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