What are college recruiters looking for in a pitcher?


I’m an 8th grader (14yrs old). I was wondering if anyone knows what college recruiters look for in a pitcher. I’ve been told that I have potential to play college, but don’t know what to work on. I’m 6ft/170lbs. I’m also left handed. My era last school season was 1.36/13.5 innings. My velocity is between 69-72mph. I play school ball and am also on a summer team. Any ideas what I should work on to help get me noticed. I plan to go to some camps / showcases this summer and I’m not sure if I’m wasting my time.


I heard from a scout for the California Angels that both colleges and MLB are looking for all-around athletes, kids who play several sports and not just baseball. Especially when it comes to pitchers, as colleges and MLB are concerned about latent youth injuries caused by overuse developing later after the college or MLB team has invested time and money in the pitcher.


Don’t forget about grades and character!

These are just as important as anything else


Each school is different about the way that they recruit. But yes I would agree that character (make up) is a huge component…this is your ability to separate emotion and yourself from the game while conducting yourself in a competitive environment accordingly.

But fastball command and the development of a breaking ball trumps changeup…which is not necessarily good or bad…but when talking about the differences of college and professional it is apparent that college loves the breaking ball more than the changeup.

Spend more of your time competing and learning about the game…the more time you spend on thinking about playing at a higher level instead of worrying about whether you will have the chance will benefit you greatly.

Two types of guys go into a fight…the guy worried about getting knocked out and the guy thinking about knocking the other one out.

Numbers are a moot point, velo is secondary to command and perception that you put off on the mound. Be a stone cold killer, trust your stuff and do the little things the right way.


After just going through The recruiting process two years ago with my son, here’s my experience.
#1 thing volosity trumps all!! With saying that they’re many other factors, command and offspeed stuff do help. Being a natural athlete does look good and character is always a plus. But pure volosity is still king.
My best advice to any kid seriously wanting to go play college ball, self evaluation to what level you can play, D1,D2, or even D3. How bad do you want to play as a freshman? In my sons case he could have went mid level D1 but was told by many recruiters that innings would be few or possible red shirt freshman year. He chose a JUCO to get innings. He buddy that went D1 pitched about 3 total innings, my son had 40+innings as a freshman. He will be going into his sophomore year probably as the #1 guy in rotation and throw again 50+.
To answer your question though, in our experience, volosity is #1 factor and the higher it is the less of the secondary stuff you need. Again just our experience.


I think I’m on the right path academically. I have a 4.0 GPA and am taking two high school level classes already. I’m in the honor society and part of my county’s youth leadership program. I also do a lot of volunteer work at the local nursing home and soup kitchen.


I’m pretty glad he said this actually. The higher you go in any sport, the quicker the game gets. In pitching, guys who are disgusting with ability to locate on a dime but throw 84 will have to pitch their butt off to get the same looks that a guy throwing 92 does. Velocity gets your foot in the door at the next level and keeps you there. Although one guy throwing 86 in double AA may be a better pitcher, it’s always the guy slinging 97 who gets promoted, even with a 7.00 ERA.


False all around, but think as you may.

“Volocity” is a prerequisite to moving up. There is not specific number, 88 or 90 that gets and keeps your foot in the door. Basically its like your SAT or ACT score and getting into college.

Don’t go spreading bitterness and hate on here as obstacles in the way of kids dreams. Why do people do this though?..because they couldn’t do it themselves.


We can sugar coat it any way we want but…

As a high school coach and someone who regularly talks with College coaches, the number one thing College coaches are looking for is velocity. Projectability, athleticism, pitchability all also come into play…but if you don’t throw hard enough, you’re not going to get noticed by most D1 schools. Grades are important because they want you to be eligible and not fail out, but coaches don’t recruit for grades. They recruit the best players who they feel they can get into the school and can stay eligible (just like if you were recruiting for the school orchestra you don’t take the best students who are only ok at playing their instruments).

I was told by a D1 pitching coach, after watching a pitcher throw 79-81 and striking out 5 in 3 innings (0 hits) at his camp: “If he threw 88 mph to the backstop, I would have been more interested. I want to see what he’s capable of.”

My son had an outing where he had a stomach bug. Gave up no runs, 1 hit in 2 innings. Colleges watching him weren’t interested because he was only T85 mph that start. In fact, a D1 coach told him “we aren’t interested, because I only had you at 85 mph.” My son respectfully told the coach that he had a stomach bug, and normally sits much higher. The very next start he threw 89-90 (which is what he normally threw at that point) and all of a sudden he got offers and shortly thereafter committed to a top D1 college program.

9 players on his 16u team committed to D1 schools pitchers 2 of them didn’t throw over 90. Both of those were lefties (1 87 and 1 86, and the 1 86 mph kid was a 6’6" lefty, so highly projectable). There is no doubt that velocity opens up doors. There are very few players who throw 85 who get on College radars. The gun doesn’t lie. The harder thrower tends to get a ton of leeway and many more chances.

Is velocity the be all and end all of pitching? No way. Does it insure success? No. Does it open doors and is it the single most important thing to college recruiters? Yes. College pitching coaches feel that they can “fix” high velo pitchers to get them control or stuff. They feel it’s much more difficult to teach velocity.


Truthfully, colleges don’t give a hoot about your stats. All they’re really looking for is tools and projectability. Biggest tool in pitchers they look for is velo. I’m not trying to say they don’t care about hitting spots or how nasty your stuff is, but they can teach movement and control rather easily compared to teaching someone to throw 90.


Problem with low velocity getting outs is that you cant compare any of those batters to a mlb one. While 95+ is known to get by a good hitter on any given day.


What these folks are telling you regarding velocity is absolutely true… while there are many pitchers in D1 programs that are in the low mid 80’s I wonder how many of them received any scholarship money.

My son is a 17 year old rising senior rhp and is around 84 to 86. His best pitch is his straight change and “slurve”. He is what I would consider a “spot” pitcher and changes speeds with command on all of his pitches. His travel team coach told him on Saturday if he threw 4 mph harder he could pitch at any D1 program in the country. I think that is really fine with him as he is more of an “academic” anyway…

But it really is amazing how things have changed so much and how the radar gun is relied on so heavily in the evaluation of pitchers. I played at a top 10 D1 program back in the mid 80’s… we had five guys on our pitching staff that were 90 plus on a jugs gun. Four of us were upper classman and one a sophomore. Three of them didn’t get more than 10 innings the entire time I was there… the sophomore pitched in the bigs for two years. Our rival school had two pitchers that were mid 90’s… niether one of them made it past about the 5th inning against us and they would bring in this little lefty flipping it up to the plate at 76… I will never forget it because I was keeping the gun the first time he came in against us and he topped out at 76!!! We could not touch that kid… one of those mid 90 guys at our rival school went on to be the number one pick in the draft after his junior year… we scored 6 or 7 runs off of him in the first couple of innings… then in came the little lefty and we could not square up anything the rest of the game… he absolutely shut us down and we ended up losing the game… IIRC that little lefty ended up getting drafted by the Expos… something that would NEVER happen today because of his lack of velocity.


Was he Benes or McDonald?


Big Ben… heck of a nice guy too…


And a former Milwaukee Brewer too (my favorite team)!


In today’s world velocity is almost everything to a college recruiter, your best chance of getting noticed is to be at least an upper 80’s guy by fall of senior year. If you are willing to take a significant risk and tryout to walk on somewhere, then many small, Northeast/Midwest D1 programs will take a walk on throwing 84-86 with command, but by far the best plan is to go to a D2, D3 or even a JUCO. If after 2 years or so you gain a ton of velocity and are reaching upper 80’s or hitting 90, then you can try contacting D1 coaches. Just know that unless you go to a JUCO will would have to sit out a year due to NCAA transfer rules.


If you told a group 9 and 10 year olds they would start varsity at there Highschool and win games throwing 84 mph with great command they would call that living the dream. You should thank god everyday you get to step between those 2 white lines and throw a baseball competivly at any level. Few people get to play the game after 15 yrs old. Play every game like it was your last one!!!


The hot button of John Smoltz was pushed last Tuesday when the Hall of Fame pitcher was asked on a conference call about the Dodgers’ conservative approach to developing pitching phenom Julio Urias.

This was three days before the Dodgers announced on Friday that Urias, the prized 20-year-old who last year became the first teenager to pitch for the Dodgers since Fernando Valenzuela, would need shoulder surgery for a torn anterior capsule, a procedure that will sideline the left-hander for 12-14 months.

“I think pitchers are less prepared and more nurtured than ever before because in theory, that’s what they say is supposed to stop the injuries,” said Smoltz, a Fox Network analyst. “And all it has done is increase them.

“That kid-glove treatment is universal, so it’s not just the Dodgers. It’s a philosophical approach to pitching. I call it a flaw, but I’m not running a team, so it doesn’t matter what I think.”

To many premadonna arms out there. If your going to pitch you got to do it constantly and consistently at every level of the game. More conditioning and stregthening plus strategy development. Less preservation. Velocity is king but things could change.