Here's one of the best explanations of the professional baseball's scout rating systems that I have found.
Some organizations use the 20/80 scale others use 2 to 8. They are the same thing.
A 2 or 20 is the low end of the scale and 8 or 80 is the high end.
Scouts typically use two numbers when grading, such as 4/6 or 3/5.
The first number is the player's current rating on the 2 to 8 scale the second is his
"projected" future professional baseball rating. Of course those numbers are based on the individual
When only one number is given, such as a 7, it is usually (almost always) that scout's
projection opinion of that player's professional baseball potential.
This is a tool that is
often overlooked by ball players today and one of the most lacking tools at
the major league level. With 10 teams playing on artificial surfaces,
making fielders play their position deeper, a strong arm is even more
necessary today than in the past. The player with a strong arm will have
less teams take a chance by running against him thus preventing runs from
scoring. Thus a team with a weak throwing outfield or catcher will have
more opportunities taken against them leading to more throwing errors and
more runs given up.
When scouts are
evaluating a players arm strength it is usually during pre-game
infield-outfield practice. A scout will get to see several throws by the
outfielders to second, third, and home plate. If a player has a good arm,
chances are he will show it here, particularly on throws to home plate.
Scouts are looking for four things from outfielders: a strong overhand
throw, a straight-line trajectory, good carry, and good life on the turf
when the ball finally hits the ground.
A strong arm is also
necessary for infielders particularly the shortstop and third baseman.
Scouts will pay the most attention to throws made from the outfield grass
from deep short. If a player has a strong arm, it will show here. Look for
a straight-line trajectory, strong hissing noise, and a sharp smack in the
first baseman glove.
Foot speed is the only
common denominator of offense and defense. This is one tool that does not
go into slumps. A fast runner is of greater priority for clubs that play on
artificial turf because they are playing in a bigger park and the ball
travels faster than on grass. A fast outfielder may be able to catch up to
two more balls a game thus saving his ball club an average of one run a
game. The same player can steal bases thus putting ore pressure on the
defense and making the pitchers throw more fastballs.
A players running speed
is usually timed in two ways; 60 yard dash and from home to first. The
average major league time is 6.9 for the 60 yard dash, from home to first
4.3 seconds for right handed hitters and 4.2 seconds for left handed
hitters. The clock start on times from home to first on the crack of the
bat to when the foot hits first base. A fast runner at the major league
level can run home to first in 4.0 seconds or below. The ability to run,
will force fielders to rush their throws and make more throwing errors. A
team without speed will often have to hold their runners at third base thus
scoring less runs.
60 Yard Dash:
8: 6.4 seconds
7: 6.5-6.6 seconds
6: 6.7-6.8 seconds
5: 6.9-7.0 seconds
4: 7.1-7.2 seconds
3: 7.3-7.4 seconds
2: 7.5 seconds +
Home To First (Right Side):
8: 4.0 seconds
7: 4.1 seconds
6: 4.2 seconds
5: 4.3 seconds
4: 4.4 seconds
3: 4.5 seconds
2: 4.6 seconds
Home To First (Left Side):
8: 3.9 seconds
7: 4.0 seconds
6: 4.1 seconds
5: 4.2 seconds
4: 4.3 seconds
3: 4.4 seconds
2: 4.5 seconds
This is the one tool
that has the greatest chance of improvement. While you can not develop
great foot speed or a great arm, fielding has the greatest chances of
improvement with contest practice. When judging fielding scouts are looking
for a number of traits:
- (Quick Feet) the ability to move quickly laterally and forward and
- (Range) how much ground does he cover?
- (Soft Hands) the ability to catch the ball smoothly in the center
- (Quick Hands) the ability to field bad hops.
This is the most
difficult tool to scout because you are judging a hitter on how they will
hit do at the major league level, by watching them hit against amateur
pitching. There are a lot of amateur hitters that will look great against
amateur pitching and then fall flat on their face once they enter
professional baseball. A hitter should have these lists of skills:
(Bat Speed) the ability to swing the bat quickly
- The ability to consistently hit the ball hard.
- Knowledge of the strike zone
- The ability to turn on a major league fastball.
- The ability to hit breaking pitches.
- The ability to hit to all fields.
- The ability to make adjustments at the plate when fooled.
Hitting With Power
Hitting the ball for
power is one of the more desirable traits for any hitter, unfortunately it
is often the most poorly projected tool at the major league level. In order
to hit for power, a hitter needs outstanding batspeed. Batspeed is what
makes the ball travel and all outstanding hitters have it. A hitter with
major league power will regularly hit the ball over the fence in batting
practice and should be able to drive the ball over 400 feet.
A lot of care should be
taken when judging amateur hitters swinging aluminum bats. The aluminum bat
has a greater hitting surface, and because they are lighter they can be
swung with much greater bat speed, driving the ball 18% farther than with
wooden bats. A 400 foot drive with a wood bat will travel 470 feet with
aluminum. So many hitters are home run hitters swinging aluminum become
warning track hitters with a wood bat. It is very important for hitters to
get used to a wooden bat before signing into professional baseball. Most
hitters find they have a tough time getting used to not driving the ball
they way they used to in college or high school baseball.
What Scouts Look For - In Pitchers
When scouting a pitcher
the first quality a scout will look for is a strong arm. This is a God-given
talent that can only be improved to a certain degree. One game under a
radar gun will tell if the pitcher has the arm strength to be a major
There are two basic
models of radar guns used to clock the speed of fastballs. The Jugs Speed
Gun (Fast Gun) will pick up the speed of the fastball after it has traveled
3.5 feet and the Ra-Gun (Slow Gun) will pick up the speed after the ball
has traveled 40-50 feet. A fastball will lose 8 mph from the time it leaves
the pitchers hand to the time it crosses home plate. The JUGS speed Gun is
usually 3-4mph faster than the Ra-Gun.
The average major league
fastball is 88-89 mph on a JUGS Speed Gun and 84-85 mph on the Ra-Gun.
Scouts will rarely if ever sign a pitcher who does not throw at least 85
mph on the JUGS Speed Gun.
CHECKLIST FOR GRADING PITCHERS
- Fastball- The first thing a scout looks for is a fastball with good
velocity and movement. A fastball should sink, rise, slide or tail. A major
league fastball is in the high 80's.
- Curveball- When grading a curveball, scouts look for a fast tight
rotation on the ball. A good curveball will break both laterally and
downward about two feet. A good curve ball gives the illusion of falling
off the table with its sharp downward breaking motion as it approaches home
- Slider- A good slider can be a tremendous compliment to a good
fastball. A good slider will have a tight lateral spin, like a bullet. A
slider will break about 6-18 inches as it approaches home plate. It should
look like a fastball until it breaks across the plate.
- Change Up- A good change up can be a tremendous asset to any pitcher
by making fastball seem that much quicker to the hitter. A good change-up
should look identical to the hitter only it travels 15-20 mph slower than
the fastball. It will make the hitter way out in front of the pitch.
- Delivery- A pitchers delivery should be as smooth as possible. It
should look effort-less with no mechanical problems like: throwing across
the body, landing on a stiff front leg, overstriding, landing on the heel
or his arm lagging behind his body. Any mechanical problems left
uncorrected can lead to control and arm problems.
- Control- The ability to throw strikes on a consistent basis is vital
for any pitcher to have success at the major league level. If the pitcher
has less than overpowering stuff his control becomes even more important to
his success. A good pitcher will be able to throw 70% of their pitches for
strikes and can throw breaking pitches for strikes when behind in the
8: 98 mph +
7: 93-97 mph
6: 90-92 mph
5: 88-89 mph
4: 85-87 mph
3: 83-84 mph
2: 82 mph -
What Scouts Look For In Catchers
A good catcher is vital
to the success of a championship team. The catcher will provide leadership
on the field and work with the pitcher when setting up the hitters and
calling the game. The catcher must be durable and is responsible for the
teams defense. A catcher needs soft hands , quick feet and the ability to
block pitches in the dirt. A good catcher can catch and throw to second
base under 2.0 seconds, some catchers can break 1.8 seconds.
Catchers Release Times to Second Base:
8: 1.7 seconds - below
7: 1.7-1.8 seconds
6: 1.8-1.9 seconds
5: 1.9-2.0 seconds
4: 2.0-2.1 seconds
3: 2.1-2.2 seconds
2: 2.2-2.3 seconds
What Scouts Look For In Infielders
A good infield is worth
it wait in gold to a successful team. A strong defense will take the
opposition out of more rallies and save wear and tear on the pitching
Teams are looking for
these qualities in their infielders.
Arm Strength: A strong arm is especially necessary from the
shortstop who will often be making throws up to 150 feet flat-footed on the
edge of the outfield grass. The third baseman also needs a strong arm when
called upon to make throws up to 120 feet from along the foul line. Look to
see if the infielders throws are straight and do not die as they approach
the first baseman.
Range: Look for infielders with good body control. They need
first-step quickness able to field the ball to their left, right, over
their head and able to charge the ball and come up throwing. Also they need
soft hands, able to move their hands quickly and smoothly to bad hops and
sharply hit line drives
What Scouts Look For In Outfielders
A good outfielder is
vital to the make up for a successful team. Although most outfielders are
in the lineup for their bats, their defensive skills can not be overlooked.
Scouts are looking for these basic skills from outfielders
Arm Strength: A strong arm is vital for the defensive make up of the
outfield. A strong arm will cut down baserunners trying to score and
prevent runners from taking extra bases. When evaluating a players arm strength,
it is important to be at the game in time to see infield-outfield practice.
If the player has a strong arm, chances are he will show it here. Teams
will often decide whether to run on a team by the strength of the arms
demonstrated before the game. You should look for four things from outfielders:
a strong overhand throw, a straight-line trajectory, good carry, and good
life off the turf when the ball finally hits the grounds. A strong arm is
vital for right field because he will often be called on to make throws to
third base and home plate up to 275 feet.
Range: A good outfielder will be able to cover a lot of ground in
the outfield. The center fielder has the most territory to cover, so
obviously getting a good jump on the ball and having good speed is vital
for a good outfielder. The outfielder must be able to field ground and fly
balls and come up throwing. Outfielders need to be able judge how hard a
ball is hit and be able to field fly balls hit over his center fielder
requires the most speed and the right fielder the strongest arm. A good
center fielder can run the 60 yard dash in under 6.6 seconds.
Left and right fielders should run the 60 yard dash under 6.8 seconds.
What Scouts Look For In Hitters
This is the hardest all
tools to predict whether a player will hit major league pitching because
you often do not know whether they will hit at the major league level until
they get there.
The quality the most
necessary to become a major league hitter is a smooth quick level swing. A
player with a quick bat can wait on the pitches longer therefore have a
better chance of hitting the ball harder. Another important quality to look
for is a good knowledge of the strike zone. A player will not become a good
hitter by swinging at pitches outside the strike zone. The more patient the
hitter is, the more dangerous they become.
When watching a hitter
play close attention to his hands when he strides. If a player drops or
raises his hands when the pitch is being delivered, he increases his
chances of not hitting the ball hard. The hands should go back, the less
unnecessary movement, the better. The harder the pitcher is throwing, the
more mechanically correct the hitter needs to be to hit. A hitter that
lunges, doesn't keep his hands back, hitches or has a pronounced uppercut
will not hit at a consistent level.
When evaluating hitters
focus on tools, not statistics. You should scout tools not performance.
Statistic are good for evaluating weaknesses. A hitter with a high
strikeout and low walk total is swinging at too many bad pitches, unless
corrected will never hit at a constant level.
A hitter should be able
to turn on a good fastball on the inside part of the plate. If he can't, he
has little chance of becoming a good hitter, because pitchers must throw
inside to be successful at the major league level. A hitter must be able to
hit breaking pitches or he will not last at the major league or minor
league level. Once word gets out about a hitters can1t hit the breaking
pitches, he will see nothing else until he learns to hit it.
The player's makeup is
vital to his success in professional baseball. Often the player with the
greatest desire will develop into a better ball player than the one with
better physical tools. Most of the players when they sent to the minor
leagues, are used to being the star on their team and often have never been
in a slump or have lost a game before. This for many players is difficult
to accept. For the first time in their lives, they are knocked out in the
first inning or go 0 for 4. If a player can overcome this, they have a
better chance of reaching their goal of playing in the major leagues.
One of the most
important factors in a player's makeup is whether they can adjust to being
away from home. Most high school players have never been away from home for
any length of time and many are not prepared mentally to handle the long
bus rides, bad lights, and poor playing conditions. For many college
players, the minors is a step down from playing on good fields, good
lighting, flying, and large attendance.
The college player often comes into the minor leagues more mature because he has been away from
home, but a player with a college degree may quit after two years if he
does not feel he is being promoted quick enough. It is very difficult for
players to see their teammates being promoted while they are staying put. A
player who works hard and puts up good numbers in the minor leagues will be
noticed by the organization.
-- (what to look for in a player)
CATCHERS: Arm strength, agility and quickness, soft hands,
aggressiveness plus leadership.
INFIELDERS: Arm Strength, speed, instincts, aggressiveness, soft
hands, hitting ability (especially from the corners).
HITTERS: Strength, bat speed, plane of swing, absence of fear,
aggressiveness, top-hand extension, and follow-though.
PITCHERS: Arm strength, velocity, movement, and a curveball with
tight rotation, free arm action and proper delivery, with complete
extension on the follow-though (basically a live, quick arm,
aggressiveness, and the ability to concentrate.
MAKEUP: Strong desire to succeed, coachability, maturity,
temperament, improvement, drive, hunger, consistency, knowledge of the
game, competitiveness, (how badly does the player want to reach the major
leagues and how well he will work at.)
PHYSICAL CHANGES: Has he reached his full height yet? Can he gain or
lose weight? Will he become faster or slower? Has he filled out yet? Does
he a have history of being hurt? How much has his skills improved from last
Does the player have the physical tools plus the strong make up to play
in the major leagues. Only about 10% of the players who sign a minor
league contract will.