The Workability (aka projectability) Of a Pitcher

What makes a pitchers workable/projectable? I know to be workable a pitcher must be able to understand criticism and alter their form. Does workability have anything to do with body type? weight/body mass?

what are some ways scouts “project” or predict velocity? generally, at what age does one stop gaining velocity?

Projectable has to do with a pitcher’s trajectory. In other words, does his size and mechanics and fastball indicate he still has room to improve, get bigger and get faster?

Because pitchers generally don’t “peak” until their mid-20’s, scouts want to know if that 18 year old or that 21 year old has peaked already … or if he’s on a more natural trajectory for professional pitchers.

In addition to what Steven has said, I’m not going to give an answer for every organization and/or it coaches and scouting efforts, but I can give you some insight to my experiences. Also, I’m going to cover some topics that don’t get on the radar screen too often, concerning this subject.

Workability

The Organization
History and tendencies
Formal functional personnel
Decision makers and staffers
Interoffice cooperation
Geographics
Markets
Budgetary flexibility.
The Population Pool
Who’s being looked at and why.
Who is available already on board
At lower levels.
At main market level.
Definition of “What we’re looking for
Classifying the level of skills being assessed.
The big “enchilada” … What do we need to do with this guy?
Projections
Based on the staff experience on board
Based on similar players in the past.
Based on what is in the game (level) at the time.

The Organization
Not every organization is a poster child for the entire industry. They all have tendencies and a historical pattern. Some organizations are talent makers, while others skim the cream and progress with as little as possible in the expense department. So, it would only follow suit that what’s defined as “workable” in one camp, wouldn’t float in another. Hence, marching orders would also follow suit to “graze” the amateur fields of “available” talent, now and in the future.
The people that make these decisions are a collection of people up and down the franchise ladder that have the power and clout to make such decisions and their staffers are well aware of the spoken and unspoken max and mins that guide them. Rarely will anyone think “out of the box” or stray from the prevailing history of how and why to lay claim to ability, or in this case workability… So, you could be assessed as very plausible by one system, yet, not “what we’re looking for”, by another. And you could be eyed by a member of that organization’s coaching staff, yet the coaching staff and the talent hunters have very little interaction. It happens. It’s not a smart thing to do, but again, it happens.
Some organizations have a talent search system comprised of independents, part timers, forwards and initial scouts, cross-checkers, and so on. All of these people can be restricted to a certain geographical area with limits, and so goes their influences. They also have experience histories that kind of guide their estimates and appraisals. For example, if the bulk of these people are from a certain era of the game, and they’ve been accustomed to bringing pitchers six foot six, two hundred pounders into the system with howitzers for an arm, regardless of the variety of pitches, well obviously their looking to supply their system with people that can work with that, and rather well I might add. As far as your concerned, if you have a deadly mix of junk, you can control a game with a high rate of return, you just might not fit that bill, BUT, will satisfy a host of others, AND, your projections for development beyond could look very good. Also, I might add that all the athletic strengths, endurance and staying healthy, not to mention the maturity qualities would have to be there also. All in all, this entire subject has to fit neatly into the market area that warrants attracting an organization in the first place in addition to bucks it takes to support everything else.

The Population Pool
This is really straight forward, with two very important questions

  • who do we have now, that’s on board, and do we need more like him?
  • who do we expect to move up, leave outright, trade in/out.

There’s only so much room for players in the professional game and if the prior year produced a bumper corp of pitchers, then the shopping cart is gonna be kind of light this year. All of which has nothing to do with your skill level and just how far you thing you can take yourself. This paragraph is so important for a youngster to remember. Just because you may or may not have what’s needed this year, that doesn’t mean that you’re out of the mix totally.

Definition of “What we’re looking for”

An organization is looking for players to progress with a minimum investment in time and money. They look for a player who not only looks physically fit, but has a track record of staying physically fit and healthy. They also look for endurance and a tolerance consistent with those found at the next level - usually at the Minor A Rookie or similar pace. How well will he maintain himself while living, sleeping, eating, and conduct his personal time away from home for long spells at a time, I mean really long spells.

Every single part of your anatomy is evaluated to endure the professional pace of professional athletics. This is not your friendly game of baseball. This is a profession where one side tries to literally tries to beat the brains out of the other ( not physically). The mental strain alone is unyielding, merciless, and constant. Can you hold up in a business made up of grown men, tough men that’ll show you absolutely no consideration whatsoever.

There are many classifications of professional baseball. Some are Rookie A, Rookie Advanced, and so on, to AA, AAA, even more. Some seasons are very short, I mean very short. Trying to maintain a reasonable life while bouncing around is one of the things in the “ maturity and tough” departments that’s also part of your evaluation.

The big “enchilada” … What do we need to do with this guy? That’s basically in the cross-hairs when someone is evaluating you. Do you look basically strong, enduring, does your body compliment what your tying to do, have you induced yourself with self-though routines that from a historical perspective, are just too risky or just too much work in time and money?

Projections
The future always has the past as a relevant partner. People with similar styles and histories are a safe road to travel, from a scouting perspective. Also, clubs that have a reputation of attracting solid talent are safe bets too. So is a player that has involved himself in baseball on a consistent basis - summer ball, fall ball, off-season conditioning, spring ball, etc. And don’t forget the player that totally understands the game - rules, game scenarios, technical competence at the position, easy to coach, adaptable, etc.

We’ve all seen trends, fads, fashion, and baseball is not immune from this. Some years you get a mix of all kinds of talent being signed. Big time for hitters, big time for pitchers, etc. If you’re going to be ready for consideration in your high school or college years, take a look at what’s already in the pipeline. Check out the market place and see who has the possibility of being called up, retiring, and so forth. Subscribe to the journal publications of the business if you want to really know what’s going on. It’ll probably cost you a few bucks, but hey, this is the business you want to be in - right? Do your home work.

The professional scouting process usually involves a rating system and other particulars that go far beyond this posting, both in time and space available. Go to the web and type in “ baseball scouting process”, and take stock of all the great info.

Coach B.