What baseball scouts look for & how do YOU stack up? Part 1 – Running speed

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Have you ever wondered “Am I good enough to play baseball in the Major Leagues? Will I get noticed by pro baseball scouts?”

Orioles Scout Jim Thrift is back to outline some practical guidelines and hard numbers you can use to help you gauge your talent against your competition.

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “He’s a 5 tool player” or “He has great tools.” Have you ever wondered how your tools stack up against the competition?  Jim discusses the 5 tools of baseball, including his evaluation process and some hard numbers for what baseball scouts look for.

In part 1, we’re talking running speed.

Running may not be the most glamorous of the 5 tools of baseball, but it will help you get noticed by pro baseball scouts and ultimately to get drafted and play in the Major Leagues.

What baseball scouts look for – Running Speed

Why it matters

It is important to honestly evaluate your abilities in order for you to develop the most effective habits and baseball philosophy for your individual strengths.  Knowing what you are good at and then maximizing those talents is how you make it to the highest levels of baseball.

what baseball scouts look for, and the 5 tools of baseball - hard numbers to compare yourself against from an Orioles Scout

Can you beat the play? Image by Frank Lauri.

Is speed really such an advantage?  YES.  If you are fast, your ground balls to infielders become a legitimate concern for the other team.  YES.  Your single + stolen base puts you into scoring position.  YES.  Many plays are determined “Out!” or “Safe!” by fractions of a second, meaning more hits for you (ie better batting average) and more runs for the team.  YES if you are an outfielder.  YES for teams to use you as a pinch runner.

How does your running speed compare?

How amateur baseball prospects are scored.  According to Orioles scout Jim, scouts score prospects on a scale of 2 to 8.  If you are average, you’ll be scored as a 4 or 5.

Home to 1st base.  How do you stack up against the Major League average?  Jim knows the average time from home plate to 1st base is 4.3 seconds for righties and 4.2 seconds for lefties.  (Don’t forget to check out our base running tips from the pros)

If you can make it from home to first in 3.93 to 4 seconds, you will be scored a 7 out of 8 – a very good score.

60 Yard Dash.  Another measure of speed is at 60 yards, or 180 ft.  Scouts also use this distance to gauge if you will be good at stealing bases.  If you are slow starter but a good finisher, they assume you won’t be stealing bases.  However, if you run a good first half, they expect you can steal bases.

The Major League average time for running 60 yards is 6.85 to 6.9 seconds.  If you fall in this range, you will be scored as a 5, or average in speed.  If you can beat the average, you are in good shape.

A 6.45 second runner is going in the book as an 8 out of 8, and is expected to be able to steal bases.  (Stealing expectations are based on catcher’s average release times, along with the average speed of a fastball.  Click here to read more).

[box]Says Who?  Orioles Scout Jim Thrift.  Jim’s 28 year career in baseball includes 4 years scouting for the Baltimore Orioles in the amateur, pro and international divisions, 15 years with the Cincinatti Reds as a Major League scout, amateur scout and National Cross Checker, triple A hitting coach, and a long list of other impressive experience in professional baseball. [/box]

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