Velocity expectations in D1 college programs

I’ve gotten interested lately in making a study of velocity expectations for college-bound pitchers. Of course, most people here are aware that there are 3 NCAA divisions, JUCOs, and “other” athletic associations. Altogether, the total numbers and diversity are staggering and can’t be considered in a single essay.

So, one might start with NCAA D1–how many colleges are there at that level? Turns out, there are 30 separate D1 Baseball Conferences containing a total of about 285 colleges. I say “about” because" membership is somewhat fluid–colleges drop in and out, sometimes cancelling baseball programs for financial reasons, sometimes (more rarely) bootstrapping a new program and joining an established conference. And so on.

Nevertheless, lets call it about 285 and each school can theoretically carry a roster of up to 35 players, although many carry somewhat fewer than the allowed number. All told, the numbers suggest just around 10,000 roster spots on D1 teams. Somewhere around 30 - 40+ % of those roster spots are filled by pitchers, i.e., a total of about 3000 to 4000+ pitchers at the D1 level.

Since 285 schools and 3 to 4+ thousand pitchers are too many for a convenient analysis, I decided to choose single examples of “strong”, “medium”, and “weak” D1 conference and see what I could do with just the RHPs who are currently pitching in those conferences.

I decided to extract velocity data from Perfect Game records because they seem reliable and cover the entire nation. Obviously, not every college-bound player goes to a Perfect Game showcase, so I included data to show how much PG data was available for a given conference.

Not surprisingly, the “strong” conference that I chose (Atlantic Coast Conference) had the highest percentage of pitchers whose data could be found at PG…makes sense, most of the ACC RHPs throw very hard and they tended to maximize their pre-college exposure via showcases.

Here’s the data:

Strong conference: Atlantic Coast Conference. Number of teams = 12. Total number of RHPs = 123. Number of RHPs with PG radar data = 101 (82%). [That’s a very high % of coverage in my opinion.]

ave. RHP velocity = 89.2 mph (std dev = +/- 3.0 mph). [That is, around 70% of ACC RHPs fell within the range of 86 - 92 mph before they went to a college in the ACC. Note also, about 15% were above that range and about 15% of RHPs were below that range before pitching for a college in the ACC.]

Medium conference: West Coast Conference. Number of teams = 9. Total number of RHPs = 97. Number of RHPs with PG radar data = 34 (35%). [That is a low % in my opinion, and may reflect that West Coast players have other showcase options].

ave. RHP velocity = 87.3 mph (std. dev. = 3.5 mph). [Thus, about 70% of WCC RHPs threw within the range of 84 - 90 mph before attending college in the WCC].

Weak conference: American East. Number of teams = 6 [Note: The NCAA page still lists 7 teams in this conference, but the University of Vermont dropped baseball last year, citing financial issues]. Total number of RHPs = 64. Number of RHPs with PG radar data = 29 (45%). [Not bad coverage for a small, lesser known conference].

ave. RHP velocity = 84.9 mph (std. dev. = 4.3 mph). [Thus, about 70% of AEC RHPs threw within the range of 80.5 - 89 mph before joining an AEC college baseball program].

So far, although a study of RHPs in three conferences cannot possibly tell the whole story, I’d say that the actual data pretty much squares up with the knowledgeable “off-the-cuff” opinion that I’ve heard from experienced baseball people.

If there’s a take-home message, it might be–there are few absolutes. Even among the “strong” conference’s rosters (and ACC is a very strong conference, I hope no one would dispute that) there are many examples of RHPs who threw mid 80s, and even a significant number who recorded low 80s numbers at PG) before playing for a college in that tough conference.

Clearly, there are many, many more variables to consider than this simplistic study is capable of…but, it’s a brief start. :lol: Well, not that brief, maybe.


I know there was a significant amount of time put into what you posted for the good of the order so to speak, thanks for that. I’d suggest that the reason there are few absolutes is that making a roster on a D1 college baseball team (which is the holy grail for many of the kids we see posting here) is not a single issue problem. Into order to secure one of those spots, a certain pitch speed is not the secret. A kid who is working on mechanic efficiency, longtoss, weight and strength gains, weighted balls and a myriad of other supplements and velocity gain programs…isn’t inspired by the plea for better grades.

Regardless of how hard you throw, a full scholarship to a D1 is near impossible without high academic achievement. The scholarship money comes primarily from academic grants. Good grades make you an attractive recruit. That is why your investigation revealed a broad spectrum of velocities. At least in part. There are other factors.

Kids who dream of attending a D1 school on baseball scholarship don’t immediately understand just how much time management it is going to demand. They don’t think about the denial of self for studies that it will take to stay in school and play the game as well.

I would like to see an SAT/ACT score analysis of the same pitchers you studied.

The JUCO velocities would be interesting also.

a couple points…at least from my experience

  1. grades really don’t play a factor, at least for my coach and the recruiting process. I have a 4.0, just like I did coming out of high school with a 34 on the ACT and received no athletic scholarship money. We have a handful of guys getting full rides or close to it with GPAs around or under 2.0 who never go to class. On my team, grades seem to be more or less ignored.

  2. Perfect game data is usually old and outdated, with the majority of those guys throwing at least a few mph harder over the course of their college careers. Of our RHPs, we have 3 who have HIT 95mph, 3 who have HIT 94 mph and 2 who have hit 91 mph. One has only hit 88 or so. These guys usually work at least 3-4 mph lower than this and I don’t think any of them who have perfect game profiles showed velocity anywhere near that level. So if anything that is a low end estimate of what guys are hitting at the college level

  3. our LHP’s throw significantly slower. One has hit 91, one hits 88 over the top but stays 84ish submarine, one has hit around 87, one was 88-90 pre tommy john and is still rehabbing, one is throwing around 80 mph, and then myself I am somewhere at or above 90 but haven’t been officially gunned in over 6 months.

Lanky, are you saying your situation is reflective of what is occurring in D1 schools across the country? How do you think a mixed message like the below answer given by Nationals pitcher Drew Storen should be taken? With a grain of salt?

[quote]PBR: How important are grades when getting recruited?

Storen: Grades are the reason I got into Stanford. Regardless of how good you are, the chances of getting a full scholarship for baseball are slim to none. Schools don’t have enough baseball scholarships to give out a lot of full rides, so good grades really make a difference. Having good grades shows you have good character and makes you a more attractive prospect. You can’t always control your arm strength and baseball abilities but you can control how good your grades are. If you work hard at that it adds to your overall package going into college.[/quote]

Some coaches may look at it more than others, but I think it plays a very small role, certainly not as much as people make it seem. I’m not saying school isn’t important, but college coaches, in my experience just want to make sure their guys won’t flunk out, they don’t care in reality if you have a 2.5 or a 3.5.

Storen is right, good grades do show that you have good character and are a hard worker, but no coach is going to recruit an 87 mph kid with good grades over a 90 mph kid with poor grades…winning is more important to them than having a kid who works hard in the classroom. Good grades are a plus, but they are more of a footnote than a deciding factor.

You can’t play for Florida…90-95-88mph…no matter if you aren’t better than 3.4 and 1500 SAT, this is a fact, UNF, I can speak for 3 years ago was the same, maybe 3.0 and 1500…it’s one of the reasons the JUCO leagues down here are so chock full of 90 mph arms.
Now UCF (Central Fla.) has lower grade standards…Fla. Atlantic and Fla. Southern may not have as hi a standard…FSU which is aCC also has very hi grade standards also.
I’d like to see Fred Corral’s take on this also…I hear they are pretty tough at UT, Vandy but haven’t heard on Memphis St.

Exactly, that is why I was kinda startled to read Lanky’s post.

What’s that kind of situation do for the myth of the student-athlete? My son fielded interest from a few lower D1 schools in the MAC and A10 conferences. He had decent grades in high school but his SAT/ACT scores didn’t cut it. So he went to a D2 in South Carolina that basically was a bunch of sports clubs camouflaged as an institute of higher learning. He also wasn’t throwing 90 mph more like 85 mph or perhaps an “exception” might have been made?

There are consequences ala the NCAA for academic failure in sports programs aren’t there?

I tell you…the more I learn about colleges…the more I wish all my kids had become plumbers.

Goes under the category of , What You Don’t Know Won’t Hurt You.

laflippin said,


I’m sure every program has a few kids that don’t attend classes and are on academic probation but didn’t they have to qualify with SAT/ACT test scores to get in? Perhaps what we are discussing IS lack of time management or sacrifice because a kid who has a full ride doesn’t have any of his hard earned money invested, so who cares about academics?

So what is the message for young high school prospects. Focus on velocity? Once you get in …grades don’t matter.

Glad to see that the post stimulated some very interesting discussion.

I couldn’t agree more with the direction it has taken…once the easily available data on velocity is crunched and the trends can be understood, it is time to move the debate forward to issues that are important (maybe more important) but not as well supported by hard fact or consistency across all schools.

(By the way, Lanky, going back to velocity for just a moment, you raised an important point–PG data is by definition out-dated for anyone currently pitching in college. However, that is actually a strength for this type of study…retrospectively, it allows us to estimate how well current HS players may need to perform in order to follow the same type of path you and other current college-level players are on. Or, it may allow some to realistically reconsider their chances at the various program levels).

But, I really like where the discussion is going re: the influence of grades. It seems to me this is a much more wiggly area, but potentially very dangerous to those college-hopefuls who disregard it…

At the very least, I would think outstanding grades must give a HS player more flexibility at his particular level of talent. Doesn’t mean great grades automatically get a player a roster spot in a top-tier D1 college program, but on the other hand…the Ivy League Conference–Yale, Harvard, Columbia, etc, is also a D1 conference.

I really think there is a place somewhere in college baseball for most HS players, if that’s what they want to do…just a matter of finding that right combination of all the variables. Simple, right? :lol:

Just like trig 8)

I also see the Catch-22 of a kid “wanting” to go to a school, the school “wanting” the kid and the coach needing to fill roster. Also rep and conf. has fingers in this pie.

Schools as Dino is mentioning, move from indifferent monolith to grueling devourer of talent/spirit…it’s why when find the ones who do care, they’re golden and the loyalty is very obvious.

Just thought I’d weigh in…

My college coach who has subsequently moved on was much the same as lanky’s.

He even told us at our first meeting “you guys aren’t here to go to school let’s be honest if it wasn’t for Baseball you’d have no idea about this place. You’re here to play ball and WIN”

All he cared about grade wise was if you’re a starter that you stayed eligible. If you weren’t staying eligible he’d step in and have a little “talk” to the professor of that particular class and suddenly you were eligible again.

I’m not saying this is rampant throughout College Ball but it is out there.

And for what its worth I’m all for having higher grades that way you get more scholly money so you or your family doesn’t have to pay more out of pocket.

Great topic… I coached at the D1 level the past 6 years. I know for certainty at the 2 schools I coached that if you were eligible and could play that it didn’t matter. Probably not what most on this board wanted to hearbut the absolute truth.

Now that the APR is part of the equation it has changed slightly. It makes the “roster fillers” more important. You want those guys to have at least 2 tools, one on the baseball field and a nice GPA.

The truth is that the better your grades are, the less athletic money you will receive because academic money can be added and most of the athletic money goes to the kids that you cannot stack or add academic money.

Regardless of what so many think, grades are only an issue (meaning if your borderline getting into school) for fringe talent. Most schools, regardless of their academic prowess make special accommodations to players that can help them win.

Only the Ivy league and maybe schools such as Stanford or Berkeley, not sure, are looking to win. Harvard recruits within their pool of applicants and a 29 ACT is rock bottom. Another school here in Nashville, Belmont U, is very selective but with the other schools, especially the SEC, talent takes precedence.

Grades are the biggest issue when you have 2 players of the same caliber. You will obviously take the better grades guy because you can give him less money and he isn’t as big of a risk.

I hope I didn’t dampen the spirit of this thread but these ate some truths most coaches don’t like to speak aloud. Most coaches don’t have the job security to list academic achievement as their forte of the program. Their livelihood is found in the W/ L column.

I’m not surprised “reality is” type language crept into this topic.

Let me get this clear…a guy like Lanky throws anywhere from 85 to 90+ works his butt off and is diligent in his courses, gets a perfect 4.0 grade point average and secures no financial aid accept the government’s gracious 3.4 % subsidized loan and a 6.8% unsubsidized loan resulting in a $25-50,000 plus debt concrete block on his back upon graduation.

Joe who throws 92+ and “helps” his team win, could care less about going to class, enjoys his free time, gets the minimum requirements gifted to him by enabling professors, receives a full scholarship valued at what…$20-30,000/year. And Lanky, our role model, makes it all possible for Joe because he provides the high GPA to counter balance Joe’s screw off academics that figure into the team APR. Some roster filler! Sounds like Lanky is subsidizing Joe’s goofing off. I wonder if Joe cares that if it weren’t for guys like Lanky, he’d be pitching for the Community College of East Bum Egypt.

Lanky…do you get a steak dinner every once in awhile?

Great post, Lee.

Worthy of note is that Maryland isn’t Stanford with regard to grades. :slight_smile:


You can’t play for Florida…90-95-88mph…no matter if you aren’t better than 3.4 and 1500 SAT, this is a fact, UNF, I can speak for 3 years ago was the same, maybe 3.0 and 1500…[/quote]

myself and lot’s of others would strongly disagree with the UF comment. No way they do what they have done with O’sullivan by recruiting only 3.4 GPA 1500 SAT AND above. No way, regardless of the academic reputation.

No way that every athlete at UF had a 3.4 and 1500 SAT before entering. Baseball is no different. I wish i could agree, but no way!!!

However, with Dusty Rhodes, I could agree. Bob Shepard had made similar comments to me about Dusty and academics.

I don’t think if Lance Mccollurs called and said “hey coach, my GPA slipped to a 2.8 this semester”. That O"Sullivan would say, sorry kid, we don’t want you anymore.

Florida is not Harvard and Harvard does not compete in the SEC. Didn’t I just see where UF dropped their computer science program and at the same time raise the athletic budget?? V

Thanks, Kyle. I was pleasantly surprised at the immediate value-added changes in direction and highly-informed opinion that have been added to this thread.

The initial idea, as Dino implied, was to add to the general road map some simple factual advice about HS velocity expectations for various levels of college-bound student-athletes.

But, I fully agree that the landscape is much, much more complex than a simple FB velocity number (unless you do happen to be in that coveted 95+ mph range…in which case a lot of people may trip all over themselves trying to take care of your needs, until you can’t hit 95 mph anymore).

IMO, it’s the guys whose velocity is somewhere south of headline news who may need as much quality advice as they can get.

By the way, Lanky–I can understand some short-term sense of frustration from the “mixed messages” about academic performance that you may be getting from your program. My only advice is (and you are a smart kid so you probably don’t need it anyway)…in the long run, your conscientious attention to academics at the same time as you are playing at a high college level of baseball is going to serve you very well over the long-run. Nobody wants to hear this, of course, but most baseball careers don’t last very long and most players never make it to the show. If you are capable of high-level academic committment even at the same time as you are playing at a high level…that’s a good thing.

Duly noted…which makes it that much more of a travesty. Hey, all we’re asking is that he put down the beer mug or the bong long enough to attend classes. When you go into a store and take something that belongs to the store and you don’t pay for it…that’s retail theft. But I guess when a institute of higher learning wants to take money from an over achieving student-athlete and give it to an under achieving amateur gun for hire as compensation for winning, that’s fine. So what’s the difference between one coach and another…morals and ethics and wins and losses.

And…beyond the hypocrisy of it all (my opinion only)…these colleges can afford to compensate them both, despite all the belly aching about how they need to raise tuition that comes from the academia. C’mon …playing baseball in college is a full time job. Everyone on the roster ought to get a piece of the pie. Well, let’s build another dorm hotel…nope no help for you student athletes…do you know how much being in the real estate business costs?

Colleges are just like Sears & Roebuck Co. Sears makes all their money on credit and lending. They just happen to have some things for sale sitting around. Colleges are selling all inclusive resorts for our kids (and a mountain of debt). They just happen to have some classrooms and computers sitting around.

I can see why high school prospects are racing to get to 90 mph…so intent on getting there they don’t see all the destroyed arms laying in the ditches along the way. Now I’m gettin all cynical and overwrought. My apologies.

My kid never did make it to 90. He was too busy, shoveling horse crap, cleaning out machines that made dog food, crawling around on roofs on hot summer afternoons and selling credit to people who didn’t need it at Sears all so he could have money for food, gas and well the rest falls in that same What I don’t Know Won’t Hurt Me category.

A toast to college… :drunkard:

Good because it was Dusty who told me that…I’ll only grant that it was during the Ross Jones tenure…
O’Sully does demand huge academics…at least at Clemson when he was lookin at my boy and recommending him to Rodney Hennon at Ga. S. because of …grades.

On a side note…I got to see El Bob coach against my son two weeks ago…it was like old home week.

re: “And…beyond the hypocrisy of it all (my opinion only)…these colleges can afford to compensate them both, despite all the belly aching about how they need to raise tuition that comes from the academia”

I would question this point, at very least to shift the discussion in yet another direction.

I’m going to take a wild guess that almost every D1 baseball program actually loses money, effectively requiring the subsidy of other students (realistically, their parents) who neither play baseball nor attend games.

Everyone (that is, every one of the 200 - 300 fans who attend games) was shocked a couple of years ago when Berkeley decided to drop baseball–this is the program that won the very first college world series! Baseball dates back to the late 1800’s at Berkeley! But, it was reckoned that baseball was losing around 1 million dollars per year–almost nobody attends the games and there is no revenue from TV or radio and almost no stadium food sales or anything of that nature.

After a year of turmoil and confusion, Cal baseball was saved thanks to a few big-time donors pledging 9 million dollars of reserve money against the $1+ million dollar per year losses projected over the next decade.

Let’s face it comrades, college football makes money, college basketball makes money–college baseball loses money.

Of course not…come on, we’re talking at the gate, Fla. can afford to turn away 92+mph pitchers, they do it every year…all things considered, your gonna bring it, you are going to have good grades…did they reduce their comp sci courses? I know it’s really hard for “just peasents” to get in…kids don’t just sign on for that party school…heck even Sante Fe is over-loaded…with most of THEM waiting to attend UF…And I’m not some Gator freak…heck if anything I’d have had my son walk on with Dusty…but I knew he was retiring as my boy became a freshman.

la…agreed, baseball doesn’t make money. Nor does anything else but football and basketball maybe. What part of the budget does the average D1 baseball program take up?

Penn State spent $ 933,000 on their baseball team 2010-2011 figures.

Their entire budget is 4.1 BILLION

Penn State spent $10,396,000 on their football program 2011-2012 figures.

The team generated $50,582,000 income. That’s a net income of roughly $40 million.

What did the rest of the other athletic programs together cost Penn State to run?

$20,225,000… Half of what the football program generated in income. Completely self supporting activities.

Say it over and over again and loud enough and pretty soon people are believing it.

If a college can’t afford a baseball program, they are in rough shape financially. That’s like me stopping the newspaper delivery because I can’t meet my monthly corvette payments.