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I posted this yesterday in College Recruiting under 'What Scouts are looking for...', but I think it deserves its own posting. Primarily, because I think it is a little hidden and would enjoy hearing what you folks have to say about this topic.

Here's the post:

I recently went to a MLB scout team tryout in Arizona where over 200 kids of various age groups tried out (2010, 2011, 2012). When it came to pitching I wanted to closely observe the scouts as they evaluated the pitchers because I am a HS coach and wanted to see how they rated each pitcher so I could share this information with players. Since this is the first of this kind of event I have ever attended I wanted to get as much information as I possibly could gather. I spent about 90 minutes in the bullpen standing just a few feet away from two scouts doing the observations occasionally chatting with them between pitching changes.

There were four mounds where they would have four pitchers throw various pitches one after another with just enough time for one of the scouts/coaches to get behind the catcher to radar the pitches. The pitchers threw a total of 8 pitches. They would throw in this order...5 FB's, 1 change, 1 CB and finish with 1 FB. Radared velocities were recorded on each pitch.

From what I could see there was not any observations or even a care of 'movement of pitch', 'type of spin', 'deception of release' and so on. They did not see or care if a pitcher threw a strike. In fact, some threw right over the top of the backstop, which did not seem to get the attention of any scout/coach, which again, I was standing just a few feet away from...

The number one thing that would get the scout/coach interested was when a pitcher was recorded at 85 mph or faster. Now, this got the scout's attention and he would look up from his clipboard. After the 8 pitch sequence was over for the four pitchers he would on every occasion call over to chat with the one who recorded a FB over 85. Every time without exception...

From what I could see they did not care about anything but velocity, not mechanics, movement, deception, location or whether it was a strike or a ball...nada...just velocity. I wish I could have seen something else, but I didn't. Velocity ruled the day...Period. I then followed up by checking the web site of this ‘elite’ scout team and discovered the pitchers who threw the highest velocities were selected for the various teams. Again, confirming my initial observations.

I understand the time constraints on such events and the amount of players that need to be evaluated, but I honestly, and I guess naively thought I would see thorough evaluations of each pitcher for those things you mentioned in your posting by professional scouts.

I guess it could have been the venue with the time constraints, but I have to admit I was surprised at the lack of technical evaluations.
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Originally posted by Bear:
Don't know who the Scouts were, yet
I would say they were NOT seeking pitchers, yet
were seeking HS guys with arm strength.

And yes, when I hear of a HS arm
sitting on 85 mph, I go watch him pitch.


I agree velocities over 85 are, do recruiters and scouts believe if a guy has good velocity the rest can be worked on? I've heard it said that if a kid has good velocity it is easier to teach mechanics, location, etc. than it is to teach velocity since with some pitch speed takes time to develop.

Thanks for your reply
This is very common. Your not going to select the guys that are average in arm strength. Your going to select the guys that have arm strength and then work with them. Develop them etc.

The way you get noticed in a work out environment is show tools above the rest. Speed , Arm Strength , Power , outstanding fielding ability.
CW offers a great observation; one we have experienced many times.

Dirtbags -- What you say makes sense, and is very understandable.

I (and many others) have a player that is considered to have avg. arm speed (16U, 2011, 78-80 mph) ... but he consistently leads his teams when it comes to getting guys out, ERA, and Winning.

One Scout tell us that there are "Tools" guys -- those who show well in a workout; and "Apptitude" guys -- those who get it done in the game.

What suggestions can you offer to parents (and players) of Apptitude guys? With the first, and most obvious answer being to work on developing their strength and tools.
Originally posted by Bum:
This seems to be a common theme, a misconception, that won't go away. In reality, the kids with the greater velocity usually also have greater command and control! This is because fluidity of delivery and perfected mechanics--the things that lend control--also result in greater velocity.

I believe you Bum because I did see some guys that really looked good and threw very hard with command...however, I did see several guys that threw 81, 83, 85 and 87 that 'couldn't hit the broad side of a barn' let alone anything remotely called a strike zone. The guys who seemed to top 85/87 or so, did seem to demonstrate good command/control.
I agree and disagree. Kids who have more repeatable mechanics can throw nearer the top of their velocity range and still throw strikes. That would give the impression that they have greater velocity.

Other than that in general I've found that the harder throwers don't have to develop as good of control early on so they don't, while a lot of the soft tossers are forced to develop control and even command in order to compete. Also the soft tossers who can't develop the control are gone pretty quickly.

Now some of the truly elite guys are out facing top competition almost all the time and they have to develop decent control to compete even with a pretty good fastball.
Last edited by CADad
Coach, having been through this whole scout/evaluations this past summer and fall your observation is pretty typical. These guys (scouts) are literally looking at hundreds of kids in a day and they are looking for “separation” in a short period of time. What separates pitchers? Pretty easy - velocity. Hitters – bat speed. OF – foot speed, arm speed. These things are easier to spot in a large group of kids – so that is what they look for. They make a quick evaluation and make the cut. Once they select the 40 or so then they can look for finer details, but this is the first cut in the process.

Moral of the story – have something that will separate yourself from your peers that is easily identifiable quickly. Pitchers – velocity, and in fact any fielder…arm strength. Baseball players THROW baseballs - be better at this than your peers. If this is not what separates you then find something that does - and it must be quickly identifiable. Once you make the first cut then all of the other factors come into play, but you have to make the first cut.

What happens when you don’t have something to separate yourself…well you start to talk about “pitchability, getting outs, hitting spots, aptitude, good teammate", etc etc. The reality is that as you move up the food chain the kids that separate themselves have the opportunity to show they have the aptitude, or can get outs, or whatever. If not then you will be talking about it with your buddies not showing it on the field. FIND SOMETHING TO SEPARATE YOURSELF.
I've seen one mlb tryout and they threw somewhere between 14 and 20 pitches. The scout team tryout I attended was very similar with the difference being that there were quite a few college coaches at the scout team tryout. I wasn't close up at the mlb tryout so I don't know how they judged anything. The scout team tryout tended to follow velocity, with lefties having an advantage of course, but the pitchers were all pretty similar as to their control with only minor exceptions and the one pitcher who came in with a "rep" for pitchability and demonstrated good control made the better scout team despite topping out at 86 and having been there for a couple years. Reputations/returners, grade level and bloodlines had an impact but overall I didn't see any real issues with which kids ended up on which team or not on a team.
Originally posted by BOF:
These guys (scouts) are literally looking at hundreds of kids in a day and they are looking for “separation” in a short period of time.

Excellent BOF, on this particular day there was 4 hours to evaluate over 200 kids...fielding, hitting, throwing, running and pitching. Not much time when selections have to be made and play begun by the following week. This is a good program for the kids who make the cut. There is good competition and coaching while under the watchful eyes of pro scouts. I wish all who made the cut good luck in this excellent baseball program...
If you guys don't mind my virgin opinion as Im new to HS baseball.

At the first practice of the HS summer team the HD coach asked some of the pitchers to step on the mound, he would like to take a look at what he might have. Now keep in mind these were kids that at that time would be freshmen in the fall. As I stood on the outside of the fence the HD coach stood about 6ft from me as we watched these kids work with him saying nothing but " ok next ". This one boy stepped up and he stood about 6'tall and was around 160lbs. After 3 or 4 pitches with a velocity at the 82-84mph range the coach spoke up as if to speak kinda under his breath but loud enough to hear and said "I'll have that kid throwing about 92mph when he's a senior, I'll get him a scholarship". Now I don't know how relevante this is to the scout being it was a HS coach but it was the speed that he liked

The kids know better than anyone that what makes the impression on coaches, scouts and others is velocity...the problem is when a kid who is not developed enough tries to throw hard when their body isn't ready for it, which can cause injury. Velocity comes from good mechanics and strength. Strength of the whole body...from the toes up to the arm. Show me a guy who throws with velocity and I will bet, regardless of height and weight, that they have good overall core strength.

All the guys I talk too who throw with high velocities say that they don't feel like they are throwing as hard as they possibly can... and it does not look like they are working very hard to achieve the high velocity. From where I stand it looks almost effortless. Typically, that's because they have developed good overall mechanics and overall body stremgth that support the delivery of a high velocity baseball.

As far as the coach turning the 82-84 mph hurler kid into a 92 mph pitcher... that I suppose will have to be seen since so much can happen between now and then...girls, grades and continued interest in the game often seem to be some deciding factors for teenage boys as they grow older. Anyhow, good luck to him and I hope the coach is right.
Last edited by Coach Waltrip
We had a guy who graduated from my son's school in 2008 who threw 94 that spring. When he was gunned in the fall of his freshman year, he hit 72.

There's a senior right now who regularly hits 88. He has hit 88 for three years.

My son told me a story about a pitcher he worked with at a college camp. He was mad that he hadn't hit a certain number on the radar gun, so right before he went out for his last inning, he told the catcher he was going to throw the ball as hard as he could but had no idea where it was going to end up. His mechanics went all to hell, his control went all to hell as he tried desperately to hit this magic number. And that was his slowest inning.

I don't think anyone can predict anything.

My son is a pitcher only and has attended many camps/showcases over the years. The same speech is given about how velocity doesn't matter as long as you throw strikes. The thing is though, the radar guns go up and all migrate to the kids with the velocity. Luckily my son is one of those kids reaching 88 and happens to get the attention. We often wonder what happens to the others.....
I agree with Coach on this one. My son is one who throws hard for his size. He is 5'9", 155 lbs and this summer got to where he cruised at 84-85 and was hitting 86. He said he felt like he wasn't throwing that hard. I have seen guys much bigger than him not throw that hard. We have had a number of people tell us that he doesn't even look like he is trying.

In one of his last pitching lessons at the end of January, he had a guy who played AAA stand in while he threw to see his stuff. He tried to jack a couple of pitches in harder than usual and dropped 3-4 mph and was not as accurate when he did it. He learned a big lesson that day.

Anyway, I think using your whole body including core and legs in unison is what helps get the velo up there.
PG -- You are certainly correct, my son has some friends/teammates who are Tools & Apptitude guys; and they are pretty easy to separate from the crowd.

BOF -- Your comment on separation is terrific. Thanks. I look forward to sharing that with southpaw_son. In the end, I guess this really is the goal, to separate yourself from the crowd, to make it easier for coaches/scouts to "see" you.

As to the comments about smooth delivery, etc -- I'll echo that as well. A repeatable, efficient delivery (of the ball or the bat) consistently produces the best results.

To those of you who are coaches/scouts ... it would be very interesting to hear how you rank the different tools for the different positions on the field as you seek to separate players in the the scouting process; and what types of trade-off's you will make when assessing a player (ex: a corner infielder who does not run well, but rakes the ball).

Thanks all.

Not only is seperation important, but you need to know very specifically who you are measured against. A Lefty pitcher gets a little break on the velocity, but it also depends on his body type. If he is long and lanky and "projects" then he will get an additional break over a shorter kid. It may not be fair, but it is life.

My son tried out for the Area Code team and his coach told him before he he went that he would be compared with big strong corner guys because of his height, and although he is not slow, he did not have CF speed (as compared to who was there) A 6'4" 210lb kid is going to get a break over a 6'3" 170 lb kid when it comes to a corner position. Taller pitchers got a little break on velocity, but if you had a shorter stature you had better be in the 90's some of the taller one's were working high 80's.

If you have not done it yet get to an elite event and see what kind of talent that it is out there, it is pretty amazing. Like PG said there are kids that have "it" along with aptitiude.

Get out there and work hard as there are some really amazing ball players playing HS ball right now.
Bum is correct. There is a misconception about guys that throw hard especially younger players. There are alot of younger players who have average to below average velo that can not command.

At a pro style tryout or workout etc you are looking for the players that stand out above all the rest. You look for seperation in ability. Once you have done that you look for the factors that will seperate those players. Ability to actually play up to your tools in a game situation. Ability to command , actually pitch , actually hit in game situations , ability to actually use that speed in a game situation , ability to actually defend , make up etc etc.

And this can change in a short period of time at these ages. I remember a kid named Levi Micheal who came to one of our tryouts and we sent him on his way. He just didnt do anything to seperate himself from the other players. Another was Shawn Armstrong a Rhp who have very average velo and was very awkward in his delivery. One year later Micheal shows up at a tryout and is the best player there. He was a freshman AA at UNC last year after passing on his sr year in HS. Armstrong would blossom into a low to mid 90's rhp in just two years and would drafted and ended up at ECU.

So things change and some things dont change. But believe me when your looking at 100 kids in four hours you have to look for the tools that seperate players. Then you look for the factors that seperate those players. You miss on some kids because at the time their tools do not stand out. You miss some kids because some play way above their tools. Eventually the cream will rise to the top. And that cream will be just fine.

But if your attending a workout / pro style tryout and your tools are averge , your tools will not allow you to stand out above the other players present , you will not be selected. That doesnt mean you will not get benefit from the event. It gives the player an idea of where they stack up. If gives them esperience they can draw upon in the future. And it lights a fire under the a** of the guys that want to be the best.
Well, there is no use fighting the velocity issue. It is the key that gets a pitcher noticed and developed. If a guy dosen't have velocity they need to work on core strength and their mechanics. Strong legs, muscular buttocks and deep core strength coupled with continued work on developing effective mechanics will produce results. A kid just has to be patient. Nothing happens over night, but with persistent work over several years will produce results.

I have seen two schools of thought on whether velocity is a God given talent or can be developed. You either have it or you don't. Therefore, don't fight mother nature. I tend to believe it is a combination of both to some degree, but regardless, if a pitcher does not work harder than anyone else on his team at his craft others will and ultimately natural talent will be overtaken by good old fashioned hard work.

A friend of mine is a good example of the hard work argument. When he graduated from HS he was an average pitcher throwing 80 to 82. He was a walk on at a JUCO and after two years increased his velocity to 85 and would on occasion hit 88. After 2 years he was recruited by a large D1. As a junior he would occasionally hit 90. In the summer between his junior and senior year he began a core strength workout program. He then regularly hit 90 to 92. He was then heavily recruited by the pros and signed after his senior year. The first year in the pros the club re-worked his mechanics. After this one year he began to hit 95. Point is he was 24 before he hit 95. He grew, matured and developed his mechanics to maximize his potential. Although he did not make the show he played for 10 years on mostly AA and AAA teams.

For some, velocity can come more naturally, but for others it can be attained if they are willing to put in the work. That's the key that will seperate those who can from those who could.

I believe it is up to the kid. If they are willing and able...with proper guidance and direction to avoid un-necessary injuries, then yes, velocity can be achieved through determination, tenacity, sacrifice and work.
Last edited by Coach Waltrip
Bizzle Coach probably needs to learn to keep his comments to himself and his coaching staff. For many reasons. I have had guys come in at 6'0 180 throwing 82 and left 6'1 200 throwing 84. And I have had them come in polished as freshman who had been taught very well coming up. And they left polished HS players who were not talented enough to help us win.

The best HS pitcher I ever coached came in at 75 and left touching 94 pitching at 89-92. He is in the starting rotation for the Rangers. Genetics , work ethic , etc. Too many factors here to make those type of statements. Sometimes the best freshman coming in end up on the bench behind the raw kid coming in by their jr sr years. Kids change so quickly once they reach the hs years. Some kids come in on fire for baseball and that flame dwindles once the girls cars and other distractions come into play. Some kids catch a fire for baseball once they get into a baseball environment for the first time in their life.

Bottom line its not where you start. Its how you finish. And a coach needs to be very careful when making statements about players that can be heard by anyone outside his staff. I learned this very early in my coaching career. And you learn to not look at the plant and make judgments too early. That scraggly seedling may indeed grow into a beautiful flower. You have to wait and just see.
Bottom line its not where you start. Its how you finish. And a coach needs to be very careful when making statements about players that can be heard by anyone outside his staff. I learned this very early in my coaching career. And you learn to not look at the plant and make judgments too early. That scraggly seedling may indeed grow into a beautiful flower. You have to wait and just see.

Amen Coach May!
Last edited by Coach Waltrip
bballman, there are plenty of 5'9" kids that can throw hard.

Bum, I'm sure there are a bunch of them. My only point was you don't have to be big to throw hard. Many time mechanics trump size. Unfortunately, size often wins because they are seen as more "projectable". We are not to the point of being real involved in the recruiting process yet as my son is just a sophmore, but from what I have been reading, size is one of those things that "separate" one guy from another. That's not to say a small guy cannot make it, but he better be something special. I think the bigger guys get the benefit of the doubt and the smaller guys have to work extra hard and be extra special to be given that shot. I would think it's alot like the velocity issue. People say not to worry about velocity, just hit your spots and get guys out, but when it comes down to it, velocity is the separator. Probably the same for the size issue - it can be a separator.
bballman when I am at a showcase event - pro style tryout etc I know what I am looking for. The first thing done is the 60. I am looking for guys that can run. If a kid runs a sub 7 60 I take notice. Now I am going to check and see what posistion he has signed up for. And I am going to make sure I get a good look at him at the next station. When we get to the next station which is defensive work I make sure I get a good look at him. If another kid catches my eye during inf work I check to see what his 60 time was. If it was 8.0 and he is 5'9 160 lbs I really dont care how good he fields. Its doesnt matter. Unless he is really young. If the kid with the good 60 time shows nice infield actions and soft hands and a good arm I am going to make sure I get a good look at him when we move to the hitting station. If he cant field , has hard hands and a weak arm that 60 time now means nothing. And the process continues.

Size matters but not in the way some think. If a kid can not play it means nothing. If a kid can play it only means where can he play?

A kid may run a 7.5 60 but if he is a big strong kid that catches or plays the corners inf or out I will want to see him throw and hit. If he can mash that 60 time is less significant. If he cant hit and he cant throw it doesnt matter anyway.

So size does matter. But only if you can play. A small kid that can not play is in no different posistion than a big kid that can not play.

A smaller kid that can play is in the same posistion a big kid that can play is in. They can play and now its just a matter of where they fit in on the field. College coaches are looking for guys that can play. They start out by looking at tools. That allows them to narrow down the list of kids they are looking at. Then once they have narrowed that list down the ability to use those tools they have , their make up etc , become the deciding factors when narrowing that list down.

The better you can use the tools you have determines how important those tools are. Some kids play above their tools and some play below their tools. The ones that dont have a tool or tools that stands out or have below average tools, their size means absolutely nothing.

How many times have you heard about the local kid that went to a showcase and got rated as a prospect. And people back home are saying "What!" They have seen him play and that is all they are going on. The people at the showcase saw a kid that ran really well , threw very well and hit in bp very well. They see a kid with tools that projects. The people back home see a kid that has not put those tools in play yet , plays below his tools. And the same thing happens with the local stud. They have seen him play and he plays above his tools. He goes to a showcase , does not run well , does not throw very well and has a bad round of bp. He is not rated a prospect. But the folks back home see a kid that plays above his tools.

It all shakes out over time. But size only matters if you can play. And it only determines where you play it will not stop you from playing. Unless you let it.

And everyone has an opinion. But the fact is the top players have tools and can use them. And then there are the rare situations where a kid has average tools but can flat out play way above those average tools. And there are very toolsy guys that have all the tools but can not play. And those guys are just as rare as the very average tools guy that can play at a high level.

If you want to get noticed at a showcase (workout) then you better have a tool or tools that stands out above the rest of the players there. If not you wont. Its that simple. That does not mean the evet will not benefit your kid though. The experience of seeing where he stacks up , the experience of going through the process is very good.

Im done for the night. I have not posted this much in a coons age. And I am sure some folks are probably glad! lol
I appreciate that feedback coach. Comes in handy as son is going to his 1st showcase event this weekend. The PG at ECB. Hopefully his tools will stand out and he will separate himself from those others attending.

Keep up the posts, that last one was very informative and summed up what everyone has been trying to say.
Originally posted by Coach Waltrip:
For some, velocity can come more naturally, but for others it can be attained if they are willing to put in the work. That's the key that will seperate those who can from those who could.

I believe it is up to the kid. If they are willing and able...with proper guidance and direction to avoid un-necessary injuries, then yes, velocity can be achieved through determination, tenacity, sacrifice and work.

Coach, I agree hard work is necessary to maximize one's velocity, but I also believe a pitcher who can throw 90+ is born with that ability.. and put in the hard work to make it happen. Poor mechanics will limit most to a maximum 83-84. Good mechanics can bump that up to 86-87. But good mechanics and genes get you that 90+ fastball.

The thing is, who's to say you don't have it if you don't try?

And no, size doesn't matter for some. Truth be told, there's a bunch of MLB pitchers under 6'0" that can bring it. Which brings me to the point Coach May so eloquently expressed.. I'm paraphrasing.. size won't stop you unless you let it.
Bum, I think you and I are pretty much on the same page here when it comes to natural ability, but as you said how will a kid know unless he puts in the work...

I guess as a coach I want to give those who are willing to put in the extensive effort required to get there the hope that they can accomplish such a lofty goal. The 'you can accomplish anything if you put your mind to it' kind of philosophy I have developed through my life experiences. Good or bad I tell those I'm coaching to dream big and then set out to achieve the dream. As a wise person once said, 'A journey of a 1000 miles begins with the first step'.
What I have always believed is "You can accomplish anything if you work hard enough for it and dedicate yourself to accomplishing it." That "it" is the best you can be. That "anything" is the best you can be. Maybe the best you can be is 84? Maybe its 94? All a player can do is strive to be the best he can be. If he achieves that goal he has won. That may mean the best he could be is a good HS player. Or it could mean more. But reaching the goal of being the best you can be is all anyone can ask of themselves and all anyone can ask of a player.

The journey , the attempt to reach that goal is where the joy actually is. When that player looks in the mirror when its all said and done and can say "I have no regrets , I was the best I could be." Then no matter what level they achieve or what accomplishments that garner in the game , they have won. The others have to live with that question "What if?" They will fight that question the rest of their life.

I believe this. There are way more players that fight that question than there are who can look in the mirror and know that they did. If your son can look in the mirror when its all said and done and answer that question and know they did , then its all good without a doubt.

Every pitcher has a ceiling no matter how they train or what their genetic make up is. The key is striving constantly to reach that ceiling and knowing you have done everything you can to go as far as you can go. Thats how you win. You lose when you dont.
Coach May - great posts!

Sometimes I think there is a group-think mentality out there as well that is sometimes blind to who the best baseball players might be. I think in many/most cases, great athletes are identified with the underlying assumption they can be trained or acquire the necessary baseball skills. Obviously, everyone wants to find the next Willie Mays or Mickey Mantle. Every once in a while, an athlete like Bo Jackson or Deon Sanders defies the odds and excells at mutliple sports. I believe any 6th grader at the height of Michael Jordan's career could tell he was one of the the best athletes in the world. His baseball career was a footnote however where it was obvious he needed more training.

I worry that scouting has become good at identifying Michael Jordan but not as good at predicting who the best baseball players might be someday even though recently atypical players like Tim Lincecum and Dustin Pedroia have become stars.

I see similar things in the NFL where pre-draft combine guys rise to the top of the draft over players who have excelled in the sport over a number of years.
Last edited by ClevelandDad

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