As a former major league player, someone who has been through the college and pro recruiting/draft processes, and also my share of prep showcases, I understand the eye of a scout. Recently I worked with a high school Junior here in Florida. He had a showcase the next day and asked if I would hit him some ground balls and fly balls so he could make throws to bases from the outfield. This particular kid’s focus was narrow. What I mean by that is he was focused only on catching the ball and throwing the ball. While the point of a showcase is to show off your physical skills, the process of evaluation from a pro organization’s side is very detailed; it’s not as simple as, “this kid has a good set of tools, let’s draft him.”
I didn’t get the sense the kid was a competitor, and that’s something that will hurt your evaluation. A couple/few fly balls were also mishandled during the catch, which isn’t a deal breaker by any means. Actually, I was glad he miss handled a couple because I wanted to see how he carried himself when faced with adversity or a bit of frustration. His reactions after dropping the balls: there was no attempt to stick with the ball and finish the play, his head faced downward and his body language was not good, and he took one of the missed balls and threw it into the outfield fence. Notice what I paid attention to has nothing to do with evaluating his physical abilities.
The mishandled fly balls were a byproduct of the kid not getting under the ball soon enough. A quicker first step and better focus on getting under the ball more quickly would have likely eliminated the dropped fly balls. This goes back to the little details—focusing on that first step and getting under the ball and in position asap. These are all things scouts will pay attention to.
This is huge. Be focused, be light on your feet, stay upbeat, and show your competitive side. Scouts will take note of this, and showing you’re a competitor will give them confidence in you.
This shows maturity. Miss a ball or make a bad throw? It happens, and it’s not the end of the world. Keep your body language upbeat, finish a play out, and take the next repetition without carrying over any frustration from the ball you just booted or the bad throw you just made.
How athletic is your ready position? Is your first step quick? Do you take correct routes to the ball? Are you in an optimal position to catch a ground ball, fly ball, or make a throw? Paying attention to and practicing these things will help you be more successful when the time comes to make plays simply because your are well equipped and well prepared. Take a look at these notes by scouts on a couple of the top 50 MLB Draft picks in 2003. The comments have a lot of insight. Notice words/phrases like “competitive instinct”, "discipline", “student of the game”, “instincts”, “knowledge”.
Give scouts reasons to draft and sign you not reasons why they shouldn’t. Show them that they can trust you. Show that you can be a positive influence on others around you and that they can trust you to wear that MLB name/logo across your chest. Opinions form quickly and a great first impression will help you stand out.
Find a mentor. Can you imagine how much it would help if you knew what to expect at showcases and you knew how scouts evaluate and think? It’s likely that the better prepared you are for the road ahead, the better you will perform. Find someone who has gone through what you want to experience yourself and spend consistent time with him or her. The worst thing you can do is go at it uniformed and alone.
PRO4MER.com is a platform that connects parents and youth baseball players with big leaguers and MLB Draft picks across Florida (Orlando, Tampa, Miami, Fort Myers, Melbourne, Houston, Dallas, Albuquerque + more). Pro4mer makes it easy to find pro athletes and easily schedule private baseball training, guidance and mentorship sessions.
James Parr; former Atlanta Braves pitcher; 131st overall pick in the 2004 MLB Draft (4th round)