The trouble with: Velocity = Projectability

I don’t dispute that velo is an important consideration, even a very important one in judging a pitcher’s merits.

However, I wanted to test the idea of how well RHP velocity in HS might project to eventual selection in a very modest round in the MLB draft.

So… I was just looking at the the last 20 RHP’s selected in the 2012 draft (the draft is still proceeding, but it was in round 31 when I was looking at this).

Using Perfect Game info to correlate the names of all 20 selected RHPs–from Joseph Donofrio down to Chase McDowell–with their top velocity in HS I found that just 10 out of the 20 names had data recorded by PG.

Remarkably, the HS velo data for these 10 low-drafted RHPs varied from 79 mph(!) to 92 mph. The average HS velo for these 10 RHPs who were eventually selected in the 2012 MLB draft was just 87.8 mph.

What does that suggest to you?

To me, it suggests that projectability, even for RHPs, may not necessarily be tied extremely closely to HS velocity. That is, HS velocity is not necessarily the absolute ‘glass ceiling’ that many people automatically believe it to be.

There must be many other factors at work including work ethic, further physical development after HS, conditioning and training, etc, etc, that contributed quite a lot to some of these guys being drafted, no?

How current is the data la?

I know the guy the Reds took in the 20th round is on PG and his velo is recorded at 78 and that was from 2 years ago. Currently he’s hitting 90-93


The data is HS data for young men who were just drafted today…most from out of college programs.

That’s not a weakness in the data, it’s a strength. No one is suggesting that RHPs in the low to mid 80’s will be drafted out of HS.

The real point is, how many of us would project that an RHP throwing 80 - 85 mph in HS would EVER be drafted, in any round, after any amount of further training/development?

The actual HS velocities for the 10 of 20 RHPs for which there was data were: 86, 91, 92, 89, 89, 84, 79, 92, 90, 86 (this last one was also measured 82-85 mph @ AreaCode).

In my view, this kind of information provides many young pitchers in the LTP demographic with a very important counterpoint to the prevailing advice that they are “not good enough”.

I totally agree with you la.

The guy I’m talking about is a HS Senior as well.

The flip side to the coin though is once you’re drafted in the later rounds it becomes that much harder to climb the ladder because essentially the organization see’s you as a roster filler, so that projectability then decreases.

I remember a few years back when the Dodgers took a kid who was maxing out at 76, the book on him was incredible off sped and he knew how to pitch, was advanced in his years mentally. Back then I thought it was a typo, but it was correct, not sure what happened to the kid.

I by no means am trying to take anything away from anyone who is drafted regardless of the round its still an incredible feat. It gets you one step closer to the end game. Reaching the MLB.

“…once you’re drafted in the later rounds it becomes that much harder to climb the ladder because essentially the organization see’s you as a roster filler, so that projectability then decreases.”

--------Sure, I think most people completely understand that. However, an organization’s generalized view of its lowest-level draft picks shouldn’t define anyone’s individual perception of himself.

I’ve met lots of guys who played minor league ball to one level or another but, for one reason or another, never made it to the show…but I’ve heard very few regrets from these same folks. They mostly seem to have thoroughly enjoyed their chance to play beyond school ball.

For the 20-something who is able to play for a few more years, get paid a little bit to do it, and lead that gypsy life…there are worse fates.

This was the first thing that came to mind when I read this post…
“So, you’re telling me there’s a chance?”

Exactly, viking! Or, as we say in math class, 0.000001 > 0

Wales if your talking about Brock D then you’ve nailed it with how a pitcher can improve velocity. I played with him my last two high school years for the ontario nationals and i watched him go from 75 when he was 16 to 90 when he was almost 18. He completed tuff cuff in the summer of 2010 which showed huge velo gains. I think most guys have hidden velo inside of them but dont know what exactly to do to extract it from their bodies.

Yeah that’s the guy skav.

a large (or at the very least, significant) % of late round picks are favors…something to think about. We have guys who had no business not being drafted, at the very least in the late rounds

our right fielder hit .317 with 20 doubles, 3 home runs and 15 stolen bases…kid has speed, pop, throws 92 from the outfield and plays in the top ranked conference in the country.

our #2 starting pitcher ended with a 3.04 era and a 73/19 k/BB ratio in 83 innings, defeating then #14 UCLA and #1 Florida state among others. Problem is he throws 87-89 only topping out at 91.

I understand that projectability is important, but how can scouts realistically draft kids throwing 84 and 86 mph…can you really project a 5+ mph gain in velocity? These kids aren’t all greg-maddux or chad bradford types. I don’t think it’s that simple, but i do personally know a handful of players that were picked up in late rounds out of high school or much earlier than they should have been because they have connections to the organization.


While PG performance data comes from players’ High School stage of development, many of these same players are only drafted after several years of further development in college programs.

Again, no one is suggesting that RHPs throwing mid-80s are usually being drafted right out of High School with those velocity numbers.

The real take-home message is: mid-80s velocity in HS does not necessarily preclude further development to a much higher level of achievement.

I understand your point about ‘favor-picks’ in the draft–it’s pretty difficult to argue that point one way or the other because the data for it is very subjective, at best.

I was really just trying to use the best source of quantitative data that I could find to provide some insight on a question that is important to HS-aged guys who are currently throwing in the low-to-mid-80s…do they have further potential, or should they automatically be written off for progression to the next level (which, most realistically, is a college program)?

Actually, their future potential as draftees is not nearly as interesting to me as their potential to go on and develop into solid college players. However, one needs to use relevant data where one can find it…I think it’s a good estimate that any random RHP drafted out of college in the 30th-31st round must have developed enough beyond his HS performance stantards to be worthy of playing minor league baseball.

I’m not trying to make a grander point than that–it’s just becoming more clear to me as time goes on that my favorite mentor, House, had it right when he said: “Baseball is a game of failure, coached by negative people, in a misinformation environment”.

I realize that even high quality data will not necessarily change everyone’s thinking…I did this little study for personal reasons, but shared the information because it was surprising to me.

Wasn’t Mike Piazza a favors pick?

We agree I suppose that there is a significant difference between a high school perfect game performance of say 85mph by a kid who has reached his potential and a kid same age who is expected to develop further. That’s what scouts get paid to determine.

College recruiters for the most part are looking for an arm that can help them right now, development is not that critical although there are a fair amount of rosters filled with guys they hope will get better(that do not have scholarship money). The difference to me is that one’s dedication or commitment to the task usually pays off in college. In professional baseball you’ve got to have the natural talent. There is much less of a will yourself there factor. In pro ball, you put your nose to the grindstone and alot of times you just get a bloody nose.

The low draftees whether they are favors or fillers, are both in the same sinking boat. Just one deserved to be there, the other didn’t. They both get to bail out the water. They are both going to the same place. Some will arrive at another career earlier than others. Some will enjoy the trip. Others won’t but you probably won’t hear about the bad side of professional ball because that’s not the type of personality that gets involved at that level. They are not likely to complain because they are not complainers. They are entrepreneurs. They claim ultimate responsibility for their professional career. They are leaders and risk takers. You ever notice how professional players never look to put the blame on somebody else.

For every one of these roster fillers, there were probably one hundred or so that had similar talent. They however, didn’t like the return on the investment and checked out of the program early. The one that stayed had decided a long time ago come heck or high water, he was going to stick it out. The gypsy life…it’s for gypsies.

Using the 2012 MLB draft is likely to be a huge outlier. Watch the bonuses for the kids drafted in the 6th-10th rounds. You’ll also see a lot of college seniors who would normally be drafted in the 40th round of other years.

The 11th round is where the real talent was taken due to how bonuses and penalties were structured.

I think you need to weed out the bad data inherent to this kind of study.

I am watching the Mets @ Nationals game right now, and am flabbergasted by Mets Pitcher Chris Young. The guy stands 6’10" and - so far tonight anyway - his fastest pitch has been 86 mph.

86 mph!

Some thoughts come to mind, wonder what you all think . . .

First, the spectacle of someone so big throwing only 86 mph. :?:

Second, the notion that 86 mph can get you into the Majors, when much of what I read - including on this forum - is that 86 mph might not get you past high school. :?:

I guess Mr. Young is a walking billboard for the “placement and movement” approach to pitching, eh? :lol:

And he’s 6’10. I’m sure he can hit 90. And even if he didn’t his 86 looks at lot faster because of his stride length and is harder to hit because of how downhill he can throw it.

his mechanics are pretty horrible from a rotational standpoint, but just goes to show that pitching is not necessarily all about velocity…you just better have everything else working for you…and have somebody think you are projectable/good enough to give you a shot which doesn’t always happen with short pitchers

I saw Young pitch in Reno at the AAA stadium when he was on a rehab start last season. He didnt throw much above 85 that night but his placement was amazing. He put that ball where ever he wanted. Also, his change of speed was impressive and very deceptive…even sitting two rows back of home plate.


The 11th round is where the real talent was taken due to how bonuses and penalties [/quote]

Why do you say this???

Because of how bonuses/penalties worked for draftees this year. You could pay overslot in the 11th round without being hurt in 2013 or against a tax. It’s more complex than that, but that’s the general idea of it.