The 'other side' pro scouts look for


#1

As we all know, physicality plays a role in pitching success. Not always, but a lot of the time. You hear about pro scouts drafting only 6-foot-1, 200-pound guys who project to be 6-foot-4, 225. (Which is partly true.)

While much of the talk amongst youth baseball players and coaches centers around how to fit that “mold,” not enough talk, from what I’ve seen, is taking place about the mentality that scouts look for in the pitchers they hope to draft.

Do you see the same thing where you live? Is there talk about the mentality required to be a top-notch pitcher, or is it just physical strength and size?


#2

It has been my experience that the proper pitcher mentality is something that is judged and appreciated slowly. It is part of the conversation about opposing pitchers once you’ve seen them a few times. It may the most important thing at lower levels where defense tends to be bad and umpiring can leave something to be desired. At any level belief in the ability to get hitters out seems to help pitchers go a long way.


#3

OK, I’m a Twin’s fan. And Brad Radke is my example to my son for whom to emulate while on the mound. Not only does he have great control and a good variety of pitches (if he could only get some run support!!), but he has terrific mound presence. Whether he just struck out the side or gave up a long ball, he has the same expression, the same motions and same approach to the next pitch. Jon, and the other pitchers on his team, are reminded of this by his coaches every game. Fortunately, they have an example in the other team from our association that has a couple pitchers who, unfortunately for them, do not handle their emotions on the mound. While it is difficult for 10 yr old boys to always hold it in, demonstrative motions and yelps only spills blood in the water for the batters and doesn’t help the defense play any better. So yes, some of our coaches are teaching that early.


#4

Most of the scouts I have been around, mind you it was 2-3 years ago talked to me alot about how I reacted to each situation. They would actually tell me that if my attitude stayed positive, the mechanics, velocity, etc, they would be willing to work on. So there are a few still out there that look for positive attitudes. I think they want to make sure the young pitchers aren’t going to go through a mental breakdown during or after a bad outting.


#5

It has been my observation that scouts - both professional and college recruiters - live or die by the radar gun. A kid who has everything but velocity doesn’t interest them. And a kid who breaks 90 catches their eye no matter what else he can or can’t do (87 if they’re left-handed). I believe it has made scouts lazy. They don’t have to analyze or go out on a limb. They just put a number to a kid and let the pitching coach try to teach him how to pitch.


#6

The biggest thing I have heard from friends and fellow teammates when drafted is that they really look for how you react to bad sitautions and when it isnt going your way (ie errors, dink hits) Also I heard they really like it when you can come right back and throw strike 1 where you want it, when you just give up a homerun or a 2-run triple or something.

Of course they look at 90+ I believe that GOD only gives you so much talent and that if I guy is raw they think they can always tinker with mechanics but you cant teach 90+

Ryan


#7

Ryan, I agree 100%. I realize being in Minnesota I am biased towards the Twins (even though they are getting whooped 12-4 right now) but I still think Brad Radke is one of the best examples of mound presence and composure around. Not an overhwehlming fastball, rarely breaking 92, but very good control and able to hit his spots. Everyone cringes at a Radke start because he invaribly gives up two runs by the second inning but he continues to come back and work quality starts and put up 0’s. Now if the team could only score three or more runs before he exits…


#8

This a rumor that I’ve heard before, but if you can hit 100, and reasonably under control, is it a ticket to the bigs?


#9

As important as physical tools are, by the time a pitcher is playing professional baseball, he isn’t really too different from the rest of the pitchers around him. Everyone is big and able to throw 90 mph fastballs (high 80’s if left handed). What differentiates a pitcher from the rest is mental toughness and discipline.

Can a player just decide one day to be tough mentally? Maybe some can, but I believe that often a player needs to develop mental toughness by focusing on measurable processes rather than results. Instead of thinking about stats, wins, and losses (results, in other words) pitchers can progress quickly through defining success by improved pitching processes. That can be something, for example, as simple as increasing his percentage of first pitch strikes. If he knows that his current first pitch strike percentage is 40%, he can create a goal of increasing it to 60%. To be willing to do that instead of being distracted by the world’s definition of statistical success is a vital aspect of mental toughness. When a pitcher focuses on that kind of process, to the degree he is successful, will his confidence increase, and he will find himself progressing through the system.

I like this website because it points pitchers in exactly this direction. They can identify and learn to focus on processes that truly are important and correct.


#10

So I’m gonna ask a direct question within the topic since it’s where a lot of the discussion is going.

Say in 4 years (senior in HS) I’m only throw 86-87 (rightie). Good at mixing speeds and keeping hitters from ever getting solid contact. But obviously mentally tough (been pitching infront of week d’s for more than a couple years). And even a 4.0 gpa for a good measure.

Does that mean most scouts (pro and division I) will look over me. Or will I get a good shot.

The question has actually been eating at me for some time. My dream has been to play pro baseball since I can remember but don’t know how naturallly gifted I am or not.


#11

Hi Everyone,

I’m just getting started here and I’m excited to get started. You’re certainly off to a great start on my favorite topic (except my own son).

I’ll just touch on a couple of things in this thread.

When I was with the Yankees and the Rangers before them, they were very concerned with the mental “make-up” of the players. Organizations have gotten very good at assessing physical talent and they all are looking for ways to assess the mental game. I did a fair amount of research on various paper and pencil tests that are out there and was suprised that I found one or two that I liked. Some teams use tests and some don’t.

I agree that scouts focus mainly on physical skills and hope for the best on the mental. I think many of them look to cover their butts by prioritizing by the gun. If a guy throws 94 he’s safe to draft – can’t argue with that number. But an 88 guy with great make-up who can really pitch is a bigger risk for the scout if he doesn’t pan out.

I haven’t heard for some time, but I recall hearing an avg. major league FB was 88. Anyone know what it is now?

Anyway, I find pro ball is understanding more and more that the mental game plays a huge role in performance. But also a lot of people have promised the moon with their mental training programs and the organizations are understandably once bitten twice shy. The environment on most teams is not friendly to outside people coming in and telling lifetime ballplayers and coaches how to play their game. The mental game will get bigger and bigger in pro ball and college ball and HS and youth leagues as more and better information is put out by more and better mental game coaches.

As for 100mph being a free ride, I don’t know. Do it and find out!

Some people just aren’t genetically able to play pro ball. Problem is you can’t know if you’re on that list unless you develop an awesome mental game. See what’s his name, the Angels shortstop.

It takes a total package to make it and stick in the big leagues. The mental game is a huge part, and the physical gifts and conditioning are required also.

I also see the mental game like the physial game in that everyone is gifted with a certain amount of talent (some more, some less) and that wherever you are now you can get better. Some people are innately confident. You parents know that kids just come out of the womb with different dispositions.


#12

[quote=“RTusk40”]The biggest thing I have heard from friends and fellow teammates when drafted is that they really look for how you react to bad sitautions and when it isnt going your way (ie errors, dink hits) Also I heard they really like it when you can come right back and throw strike 1 where you want it, when you just give up a homerun or a 2-run triple or something.

Of course they look at 90+ I believe that GOD only gives you so much talent and that if I guy is raw they think they can always tinker with mechanics but you cant teach 90+

Ryan[/quote]

Scouts definitely look at how pitchers react to adverse situations. I can recall watching a game last Spring where one of the top prospects in IL ended up in a bases loaded jam b/c of weak hits and an error and proceeded to hit a batter to walk in a run. This pitcher is extremely gifted and on his way to Notre Dame, but it did make an impact on scouts.

Something I haven’t seen mentioned in this thread is how scouts look at how he interacts with teammates, does he just go thru the motions of pregame? Does he take practice/pre-game seriously?

I have always believed you can learn just as much about a player by watching what he does in-between and before games as watching him during the game.

To Steven Ellis as well as the other experts, I want to thank you for putting this site and forum together .


#13

[quote=“centerfield2150”]Say in 4 years (senior in HS) I’m only throw 86-87 (rightie). Good at mixing speeds and keeping hitters from ever getting solid contact. But obviously mentally tough (been pitching infront of week d’s for more than a couple years). And even a 4.0 gpa for a good measure.

Does that mean most scouts (pro and division I) will look over me. Or will I get a good shot.[/quote]

Two things. First, if you’re throwing 86-87 mph as a high school senior, your velocity is in the top-5% of all high school pitchers, so “No” you won’t get over-looked and “Yes” you certainly have a very good shot to continue playing at the next level.

The second thing I think players sometimes forget is that scouts have an uncanny ability to find talent. They really do. If you look at the MLB June draft each year, there are 50 rounds of players being drafted from all corners of the country. Of those baseball players, almost 60% come from podunk, small-town’s-you’ve-never-heard-of. They come from high schools with graduating classes of 82, like mine. They come from inner-city high schools, Juco’s, Division 3 colleges, (even Ivy League schools, go figure!)

My point is this: keep pitching, and do things each time you’re at the ball park that leaves a positive impression on those around you. If it’s hustling, then hustle around. If it’s picking up a teammate, be encouraging. If it’s cheering from the top step of the dugout, be the loudest.

Trust me, that makes a huge difference… because you never know who might be watching.


#14

You can’t control getting to the next level. Other people make those decisions.

Imagine yourself playing at that level so you get comfortable with the idea and set your internal compass on reaching that goal (this gets you subconscious mind working on the goal). But then simply focus on doing a great job right where you are and let the moving up take care of itself.