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Regardless of how alluring it is to light up the radar gun, good scouts look for much more than velocity from pitchers. As a starting point, scouts start by looking at a pitcher's strength, stamina, agility and aggressiveness, and then look at things like arm action and delivery. Sure it's nice to throw hard, but scouts are also looking for movement and deception.

For starters, here's what scouts will have looked at before a pitcher has even thrown the ball:

Physical attributes: Is the pitcher going to grow more? How tall are his parents? Has he physically matured yet, or does he still have room to fill out? If a high-school player hasn't fully matured yet and can hit 83 mph on the radar gun, it can almost be certain that he'll be adding a few more miles as he gets bigger and stronger. What kind of body type does he have? Long and lean, or bulky and compact?

"You're looking for a guy to be strong down the road and be able to eat innings," says one Major League scout. "You want a reliant arm that is going to last. A guy with a big, durable body and a strong lower half."
Intangibles: Is he emotionally mature? Can he handle the pressure of pitching in big games and big situations or does he let mistakes rattle him? Does he know the game and the rules? Is he confident? Aggressive? Or does he look as though he'd rather be elsewhere. Scouts are looking for guys who want the ball.

"Watch his body language after he gives up a home run," says the scout, "or when the ball gets past the catcher's glove and a run scores in a tight game. It tells you a lot about what's going on. Some young kids are overly animated, it just depends on how you channel it. Giving it the old Tiger Woods fist pump is OK, but you just got to note that."

And scouts aren't just watching for actions during a game. They usually watch a player from the moment they reach the stands.

"In his pre-game routine, is he taking extra hacks, or hitting off a tee? Last year Mark Prior would run about three miles on days after he pitched -- that's the stuff you look for," says the scout. "If you watch close enough, body language will tell you anything."

Health: Does he have any current or previous injuries? Any recent surgeries or health concerns? Having an injury doesn't mean a kid is no longer a prospect, but they are just flags the scouts note.

"It really depends on the injury," says the scout. "Shoulders and elbows can be bad, and breaking an arm isn't necessarily a good thing."

Before seeing a pitcher in a game, scouts will often observe a prospect in the bullpen to get a sense of his pitches, and to get a close look at his mechanics, control and velocity. Scouts aren't judging what they see in the bullpen -- players should only be evaluated from what scouts see in games -- but it helps give sort of a preview to what the pitcher is about.

"I've seen guys not really turn it on in the pen," says the scout, "but when they turn the scoreboard on, it's a whole different guy. "

In evaluating pitchers, scouts are looking for specific tools. A grade between 20-80 (or some clubs use a 2-8 scale) is given for each tool at the present and future level, and they are averaged to get an Overall Future Potential number, or OFP, which projects what level the pitcher will be at the Major League level.

Although clubs differ slightly on how they evaluate players, most rely on assigning grades for fastball, fastball movement, curveball, slider, any other pitches (cutter, forkball, etc.), control and velocity.

Scale between 20-80, with 50 being Major League average
98+ 80
93-97 70-79
90-92 60-69
88-89 50-59
85-87 49-40
83-84 30-39
82 20-29
Velocity: This just measures one thing - how hard a pitcher can throw. Hitting 90 mph on the gun is considered something special, and scouts will take notice, but that's not all they are looking for.
"I can see big league guys in the Majors get guys out with 83-86 mph fastballs, by using location and changing speeds. Big leaguers don't even use that word 'velocity.' You got to make sure they can get someone out. Sure, 90 is considered the magic number, but there's too many other variables in the equation. Some of these kids with electric arms in low-A ball -- it's like "Bull Durham" out there -- they don't know where it's going.

But it's not a tool to be taken lightly. "Movement and secondary pitches can be taught -- but velocity you're born with," the scout says.

Movement: While velocity is the easiest tool to measure, it isn't necessarily the most important. In order to be successful at the Major League level, pitches must have movement. Does the ball drop, rise, sink, slide, fade, tumble or go straight? Since a moving target is harder to hit, the more movement a pitcher has, the better.

"You're not looking for the guy who throws as straight as a string," one scout says.

While breaking pitches such as curveballs and sliders usually aren't thrown with Major League quality by young pitchers, scouts look for the makings of a pitcher who could develop those pitches. Is there evidence of proper spin, tight rotation, downward movement, a flexible wrist and proper follow through? If so, the scout may project this pitcher as someone capable of developing these pitches.

"Different grips and different finger pressure on the ball create movement. If a pitcher had the right teacher and had some aptitude, sure, this can be taught. We also want to see if their second or third pitch is an out pitch."

Control: Control is the other tool a pitcher should have. Can he place his pitches and find the plate, or is he all over the place? While excellent command at a young age is a distinctive tool to have, scouts know that by looking at a prospect's other skills -- such as delivery and arm action -- control is something that can develop as the player matures.

"If you've got [control], even if you don't have plus velocity, you still have a chance to win," says the scout, "if you can throw strikes with a couple of different pitches and hit your spots. Watch where Greg Maddux's catcher sets up - he doesn't move around too much back there. [Maddux] spots the ball well."

Mechanics and arm action: Should be smooth, easy and effortless. The pitcher shouldn't look like he's laboring to throw the ball, or putting great effort into it with a herky-jerky motion. Does the pitcher get full extension and is it a fluid movement?

"But if you get a funky guy, they can be effective too with twisting, curling deliveries. Ideally, everything is in synch. More variables than there are constants here."

Delivery: Where is the release point? Is he an overhand pitcher? Does he throw from a high three-quarter angle or low three-quarter slot? Or is he a sidearmer or submariner? "With amateurs we're looking for consistency and the ability to repeat delivery. If one time it's a perfect full wind up, and the next time he's coming from the side, that's not too good. College guys are generally more polished. In everyone we're looking for the release point to be the same on all pitches. If you go to throw off-speed, drop your elbow and slow your arm down, decent hitters will cream the guy."

Curveball: Should have tight rotation -- curveballs are thrown rotating forward instead of backward like a fastball -- and the tighter the rotation the sharper the drop or bite. Scouts will also look for the type of break it has - does it break early or late, go across the plate or down? And they will look at how easy it is for hitters to pick up. But due to the stress throwing breaking pitches has on a young arm that's still developing, scouts take that into consideration.

"It all depends on physical maturity," says the scout. "If you're a 6-4, 150-pound kid, you want to build up arm strength first. A good coach will tell you if you have a fastball and hit your spots and have a changeup, you have five pitches already without spinning a breaking ball."

Changeup: One of the most important pitches for a pitcher to establish. Scouts will check this pitch for accuracy and frequency -- is it effective enough to be thrown in any situation?

"You need this pitch to keep hitters off balance," says the scout. "Pitchers should use the same arm slot and arm speed as they do with a fastball, but it's an entirely different pitch. It's a feel pitch -- one you have to develop a touch for throwing."

But scouts will also look at how a pitcher fields his position -- as good athletes show decent fielding skills, and any other skills like if he had a pick-off move. In all players scouts are looking for qualities that will bring winning results. To become a successful Major League pitcher, players will have to learn to make adjustments, and scouts have to decide which players demonstrate the ability -- both physically and mentally - to make that happen.

"There aren't many true No. 1 Major League starters out there -- powerful guys with focus and presence -- but that's what we're all looking for," says the scout.
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I guess for every rule there is an exception??? noidea
I can think of at least 3 pitchers from the Bay Area who were/are ranked extremely high by services such as BA and others. They always quoted "scouts" in support of their information.
From what I could see, all 3 touched 95 plus, pitched very few college innings and the ones they did were quite ineffective. All 3 were high on the draft radar.
From what I can tell, and I know very little about pitching, if you are big and can throw 95 plus, some organization will think you can mature and develop into the next Nolan Ryan and will risk a fair amount of bonus money on size and velocity, even when it is not effective in getting outs.
I saw a guy a few years ago come pitch at our place. The kid threw 90+, some said 95. He lasted 3 innings and was finally pulled because he either walk the batter or struck them out. Needless to say the walks far out numbered the Ks. But there wer a bunch of scouts at the game. As one guy told me, you can teach control but you can't teach 95. I don't know what happen to the guy, my son was only 13 at the time, so I wasn't into following the staus of that years senior class.
I do beleive I have read what you have posted. Could you post the source?

What I have learned as a parent of a college RHP.

Regardless of whether you are a pitcher coming out of HS or college, if you do not light up the gun over 90, you are not a top prospect. I think more leway is given to HS pitchers at 17,18 than 22,23 year old pitchers. As a high school prospect, you DO NOT have to possess most of the above if you throw 90's, and just 6 ft. yo have room to grow and learn. As a HS pitcher, you do not necessarily have to win games.
For the very good pitcher coming out of college at close to 22,23 physical maturation is a big issue. If one is below 6 ft or a RHP not throwing 90, he will remain a college pitcher. And as a starter you need to win games. Also, IMO, after pitching 3-4 years in college, with significant innings in, as a top prospect, you need to be as close as you can be heading to MLB, because teams won't invest in you and wait around until you are older due to wear and tear on your arm. Ideally, a pitcher should go directly from HS to pro, especially one that is well over 6ft, and hits well into the 90's. But it doesn't alway work out that way.

I have seen an excellent college, control pitcher with ALL of the above under 6ft not get drafted. I have seen a 6'5+ pitcher throwing close to 95,96 with little of the above get drafted. I have also seen a pitcher with only 28 innings pitched total in 3 years, with some of the above get drafted because he hit triple digits. I know of another top prospect who pitched very little relief in college, taken in a very late round, has more time to develop because his arm is fresher. Also remember, there are different things that scouts look for in pitchers as starters, relievers and closers, so not all of the above has to be the ideal for every pitcher. You know that a starter needs many more pitches than the closer, doesn't need to throw mid 90's. You know the closer has to be a hard throwing mid 90's guy. A starter needs stamina to go teh distance, closer a good inning or two, but with stamina because of his high velocity.

Of course most of this is my opinion formed from information given to me by his pitching coach, scouts and advisor. I always felt if a pitcher had the control, the maturity, several great pitches, changed speed effectively, etc. it was enough. It's not.

The above infomation is very good, but scouting isn't and never will be an exact science.
Last edited by TPM
Well if so, just wanted to put into my own words with examples of what I have seen. What you posted is good stuff.

However,there is a lot o velocity I think is not all that I agree with. I used to think the velocity thing wasn't that important if you had all of the stuff, but learning for the pros it IS.

I don't think a HS pitcher hitting 83, even though tall will get the nod. Are there MLB players that live 83-85 and really get outs?
Last edited by TPM
Didn't want to quote a quote but lineage part mentioned in the attributes of Bobblehead's great post should also look at grandparents because certain genes/chromosomes such as being tall especially, will come out several generations later as in grandchildren.

Just an Observation, and BTW, Chipola is a great school and I thought AL did great, personally. Wink

Shep Cares
I would also add that there is some difference in what a scout is looking for based on the MLB club they work for. We met a scout while in Yakima during our son's short season, who actually lived just 15 miles from son's college. He had seen our son many many times during his college career and told us he really liked him BUT the team he scouted for was in the same conference as a very big market team, and that he needed to look at similar type pitchers as their direct competition. Made sense to us, and much like the Dodgers (one team I have followed for a while), some clubs go after the bigger harder throwing pitcher out of high school while others go for a more seasoned finesse pitcher from college.

Granted, I am sure they would all like the well seasoned, big, strong, healthy 95+ hurler, but that isn't reality ... thank goodness !!!!!
TPm this is the link.

I also have seen lots of examples including 6'4" P that throw 85-87 drafted so it seems to depend on the scout and the head office.
There is a guy who I see is at Chipola that I know well and I will see how he does. We have played him many times. The team that drafted him placed him there. In the Cuban League he had an ERA of 11 with low innings.
Thanks, FrankF had posted the same last year and I kept it, just couldn't find it.

I apologize for not making myself clear, I do that sometimes. Big Grin

I was thinking more of draft position in a higher round, I do know that many pitchers not hitting 90 get drafted. But are they being drafted as true prospects for MLB or for other purposes? Many pitchers get drafted and become great organizational players. NOT everyone hits 90. I guess it is all how you look at things. If the pitcher you are referring to was drafted a second day drafted player, or lower round, it might indicate as to where they feel he will fit in. And as FBM suggests, can depend on the clubs immediate and future needs.
A pitcher I know was drafted 45th round and named as a top prospect this year. I am not sure if it was truely because he was better than 45th round material or a deal was made. So it does happen, not too often though, JMO.

Sorry for the confusion.
Last edited by TPM
i thought that article summed up what scouts are looking for and if you go to the link it also talks about hitting as well.
My son's doctor John Gleddies who colaborates with Tom House and Nolan Ryan . He flies to Texas when they are writing a new book and he writes a chapter in them. He used to evaluate pitchers for the Texas Rangers but does more NASCAR now. He tells me the pay is better. The top 3 NASCAR drivers are his clients. Every weekend he goes to the races when they are on. I wish every pitcher could talk to this guy. He has a passion for baseball and invaluable knowledge.
I tried to get my son's coach to have him talk to the team and he acted insulted. Go figure !
Just because the player at Chipola had a high ERA of 11 in just a few innings, Doesn't mean he can't pitch-LOL

I've seen a pitcher with 30 ERA in low amount of innings pitched that got promoted to the next level and have 2.2 ERA in 100 innings pitched.

Just another example of too much emphasis placed on stats...


Shep Cares
Last edited by Shepster
I had to go make some money so I couldn't finish.
Dr Gleddies projects my son as a 90 + pitcher if he works hard over the next few years. He told him to be patient and keep doing what he is doing.
I think all young pitchers have to be patient and believe in themselves.
In regards to the guy at Chipola I am interested to see if they can turn him around. He was suspended twice from his team last year for conduct issues. The jury is still out on him and I actually hope he does well. I think he went around the 23rd round and I was surprised that a seasoned college guy who throws just as hard on a conference winning team went much latter.
What is the range for LH pitchers, that have good control and throw strikes. lets say 85mph+
Jaime Moyer type pitchers also, he may hit 82-84 FB, great location type pitcher. 20 game winner at 40 years old.
I was a good pitcher, I didn't become a great pitcher till I learned how to let the other team hit the ball. Sandy Koufax
I've heard several scouts say that what they look for is often somewhat simpler than many people realize. They look for:

Guys who can hit fastballs

Guys who can throw fastballs

That might sound like a gross over-simplification, but think about this.....When was the last time you heard of a guy getting drafted because he could really crush a curveball? Or the last time you heard of a guy getting drafted because he had a nasty changeup? Many things are evaluated, but sometimes choices are made based on some fairly simple and fundamental abilities that can't always be taught.
I have been told high 80s for a LHP. 87+. The point is that velocity will come with maturity and hard work. Some guys can hit 90 at 16. The guy who used to pitch for Detroit had a team 16U called the detroit Cobras. He had one 16yo who was hitting 92 and another (his son) 90. I don't know what happened to them but they threw hard and with control. One of my son's 17U teammates threw 89 off flat ground. Unfortunatly his arm was messed for a couple years because he had terrible mechanics. He is healthy now and is going to a JUCO. He is a great kid and am looking forward to seeing how he does. Hopfully he will be taught good mechanics. He is a very strong kid with thick body and huge muscular hands.
True and its a shame, hitters can time a fastball.
Give me a real pitcher that can keep a batter off balance everytime. able to pitch inside and shows no emotion one way are another, thats who I would wan't.
Its like the hitting game, Homeruns are great, but there just mistakes by the pitcher.
The game is much more exciteing to me with base hits and a double are two.
I know that Players are Throwing 90+ at early ages 15-16. but I bet if you keep a study there arms are wasted by 18, are having surgery by 20. some make it and I guess thats all the scouts/recruitors could hope for.
But for longeavity wouldn't it be better to work your way up to that speed, so as to let your arm grow naturally?
I believe I read a post somewhere on this site that Jamie Moyer was actually a low 90's guy that somewhere along the line got hurt and had to use his brain to compensate. By the way, I'm a big Mariners fan and I can tell you Jamie Moyer is a first-class guy who has done a LOT for the Seattle community. My son's a lefty and Jamie is a whale of a role model. I hope he pitches to 50.
I am not a scout so ultimately I don't know what to look for, it's just a whole bunch of things they take into consideration and I probably never understand it.
I was listening tonight to an interview with sons college coach. He said something that made sense. Not to go into it, but he said that sometimes an untrained eye can't see what the trained eye can. So one can't make statements about why one is drafted higher or lower than the other, unless you are the trained and seasoned scout.
I feel badly that you needed to bring in something negative about a player. It really doesn't add to the purpose of the topic.
I've also heard scouts say they keep it simple when scouting pitchers. The best answer I ever got from a scout that has always intriged me is:

"I look for a kid that can miss the bat... but, when he does hit it, he does'nt hit it very well".

Although there are alot of things that go into being a complete pitcher.. I think that statement sums it up pretty well.
Last edited by MOUNDMASTER
My experiences have been that you must have velocity to be consdered a Prospect or MLB projectable. By why do we always point to that? There are quite a few big league middle relievers who throw 85-89, not many below. There are as many below 85 guys as there are 98-100 guys, very few. If a guy is a late pick in the draft and toiles in the minors for a few years and gets people out, the big club will give him a chance. The key up top is can the guy get 'em out. If he's an 87 guy or a 94 guy and he consistently gets the hitters out, he'll get a chance. He may not be on the scouts radar and hot lists while in school, but he may get drafted late or sign as a free agent after some independent ball. Opportunities exist for those who never give up.
This came up on the thread that TPM started a month or two ago about what "stats" a scout looks for in a college pitcher. Naturally, some posters
wanted to minimize velocity by saying the important thing was "to get batters
out" and of course ultimately that IS true. One poster brought up Stu Miller from the 60's Big Grin and I believe another mentioned Moyer, but the question is "Name a ML pitcher that does not have a fastball velocity over 85 mph."

Even Wakefield can put a little heat on it when he wants to. I would like to know of any young pitcher drafted recently with less than 85 velocity. I could
be wrong. baseball4

Here is a list (copied from Baseball almanac) of guys who have touched 100 or more. The number that would be 98 mph or above would form a very large list. If we are talking about peak velocity, I have seen Moyer throw many pitches over 85 mph. I can’t really think of a single pitcher (presently in MLB) who can not throw above 85 mph, but there might be one. Some might say, this list only shows the pitchers top velocity rather than what they usually throw. That is true, but if we are talking about ability to throw hard, here is a list. Notice the large number that are still active.

"100 MPH Club"
In Order by Fastest Observed Speed
(Listing Has Only The Fastest Known Speed by the Pitcher )
Pitcher - Radar Speed
Mark Wohlers - 103.0 mph
Armando Benitez - 102.0 mph
Bobby Jenks - 102.0 mph
Randy Johnson - 102.0 mph
Robb Nen - 102.0 mph
A.J. Burnett - 101.0 mph
Rob Dibble - 101.0 mph
Kyle Farnsworth - 101.0 mph
Eric Gagne - 101.0 mph
Jose Mesa - 101.0 mph
Guillermo Mota - 101.0 mph
Billy Wagner - 101.0 mph
Nolan Ryan - 100.9 mph
Josh Beckett - 100.0 mph
Daniel Cabrera - 100.0 mph
Roger Clemens - 100.0 mph
Bartolo Colon - 100.0 mph
Francisco Cordero - 100.0 mph
Rich Harden - 100.0 mph
Jorge Julio - 100.0 mph
J.R. Richard - 100.0 mph
C.C. Sabathia - 100.0 mph
Ben Sheets - 100.0 mph
Derrick Turnbow - 100.0 mph
Kerry Wood - 100.0 mph

Note from Baseball Almanac - The list above IS NOT a comprehensive breakdown of every pitcher to ever surpass the 100 mph barrier, but rather a list of pitchers we have seen on ESPN Game of the Week, SportsCenter, or in person eclipsing the century mark. If you want to share an another or provide an accurate game date for those we have in the chart please send us an email.

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