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Youth baseball players and parents: What does a pro baseball scout want to see from a pitcher and hitter?

We asked a pro baseball scout how a high school player could stop him in his tracks. Hear from a pro scout for the Atlanta Braves. Dustin is a former 2nd round draft pick, former pro baseball player, and currently is the Southern region coordinator of amateur scouting for the Braves.

Q & A

Q: A prep pitcher is on the mound and knows you are a scout for a big league organization. He wants to be a top 5-round draft pick. If he had one opportunity to do something to make you stop and watch him, what are 2 or 3 things he could do to get you to stop and take out your notebook and grading sheet? What about for a hitter?

A: Obviously there are many components that go into scouting but the first thing I look for in pitchers would be velocity or arm speed. After that some other things come in to play but the main thing you need to become a professional prospect is arm speed. Some other things that scouts looks for: pitchability, delivery, breaking ball, frame & athleticism, FB movement, arm action, attitude, aptitude, and deception. If you are more skilled in some of these secondary areas you can make up for others but most guys have the arm speed to start.

A (cont'd): On the other hand for hitting the first thing I look for is bat speed. Now just as in pitching with arm speed; batspeed is not the only component we look for but when coupled with other elements it becomes more intriguing. Other elements include: power, strength, feel to hit the ball to all fields, bat path, stride length, load, athleticism, strike zone judgement, head movement in stride, body type and effort level.

Q: For a 3rd to 6th round draft pick, how many scouts in a single organization will have watched the player perform?

A: Depending on the organization and who sees you, this could vary from 1-6 or more. I would say typically the area scout and regional crosschecker (2) at least see players in the 3-6 round range.

Q: What do you do as a scout: You go watch a prep player and are highly impressed with his abilities. You see the prep player do one or several of the following: show bad body language, show up another player, kick the dirt, throw his glove (or bat), and/or act condescending towards a teammate. 

A: Immediately there will be a red flag raised and more background information will be needed to determine if this is a one-time thing or it happens regularly. If it happens regularly, personally as a scout, I would not recommend this player. My main objective as a scout is to find championship players not just MLB players. While this player may have MLB talent, I would walk away from him because in my evaluation it would not be a player you can win a championship with. Dealing with failure is more prevalent in baseball than any other sport and if you cannot handle it, you are probably on the wrong career path. As you know, the Atlanta Braves preach high character individuals and that is what we are looking for – along with the talent.

Q: Dustin, you were a former 2nd round pick (yr. 2006), a former pro baseball player, and now a pro scout — What you know today as a scout, do you think there are certain things you could have done in your youth years that would have given yourself more leverage as a prep or college player? Another wards, would it have been helpful to know then (as a youth player) what you know now (as a former player and now scout)?

A: I think hindsight is always 20/20 and there is plenty I wish I had known then, what I know now. Taking care of my body nutritionally and proper recovery come to mind as well as the anatomy of pitching/hitting. The importance of playing other sports growing up and not limiting your athletic ability at such a young age is something that I think helped me through the process. Baseball is a demanding sport and those muscles need to rest at some point and playing other sports can give you sort of an “active recovery” while still staying active and athletic. Specialization in baseball at too young an age is potentially detrimental to a kids athletic/cognitive development – play soccer, play basketball, run track, etc etc. Stay active and athletic but the overuse of muscles in specialization, especially at a young age, is not fair to the athlete.

Final Thoughts

Youth players and parents, we create and post this insightful content so you can have real answers. No guesswork. There are specific things that you can learn and work on to give yourself the best possible chance of standing out amongst the crowd. Seek out someone, with credible experience, that can help guide you through both the fundamentals and intricacies of youth, college and pro baseball - someone who has "been there, done that." Mentorship at a young age can make a tremendous difference in your future success.

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