What do baseball scouts look for & how do YOU compare? Part 4 – Hitting

Have you wondered “Am I good enough to play baseball in the Major Leagues?”

Orioles Scout Jim Thrift is back to outline some practical guidelines and hard numbers you can use to help 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?  Keep reading to find out if you have all 5 tools, and see what baseball scouts are REALLY looking for.  This is Part 4, Hitting.  Did you miss Part 1, Running Speed?

Note – 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.

What do baseball scouts look for?  How do you compare?

Image by Joe Territo


Pretty simple.   No big secret here (sorry to disappoint).

If you are consistently (don’t miss that word consistently) hitting the baseball 450 ft. in batting practice, over and over, then scouts will give you a high score for bat speed and power.

Hitting for Average

What do baseball scouts look for?  Of course statistics play an important role in getting you noticed, and recognizing if a player has these two tools – hitting for power and hitting for average.  

However, statistics won’t tell the whole story.  

Pro scout Jim Thrift knows that 95% won’t play after high school, so batting average isn’t everything.  In fact, Jim doesn’t pay much attention to hitting stats for high school players.

Walk/strikeout ratio.  The exception is that he  does look at the ratio of walks to strikeouts.  Elite hitters in high school shouldn’t be striking out a lot.  No more than 7 strikeout in 100 at bats in high school.   For example, 12 walks and 88 strikeouts is NOT what they want to see.  On the other hand, more walks than strikeouts is very promising.   Orioles scout Jim Thrift knows that this stat shows a lot about a player’s discipline, hand/eye coordination and knowledge of the strike zone.    

[box]Pro tip from a Scout.  You should never put a hitting philosophy over a player and force him to conform.  Everyone hits differently – Jim Thrift[/box]

Hitting Mechanics and other factors.  When you hit, scouts will be looking at your looking at hand path and head movement.  A lot of head movement makes it difficult to see and hit the ball, showing poor hitting mechanics.  Jim also watches intelligence, decision-making at the plate, with 2 strikes, facing left handed pitchers, day time and night time games.

Bonus Question:  Does it pay to attend MLB tryouts?

Are MLB tryout camps a thing of the past?   Veteran scout Jim Thrift says no, tryout camps are not obsolete.  In fact, his exact words were “yes, all players should attend tryout camps when the opportunity presents itself”.

In his expert opinion, MLB tryouts are still a good way to GET SEEN and do the types of benchmark activities that will show scouts how you compare to the rest of your draft class.

[box]About the source, Pro 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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  1. Avatar für Kevin Berry

    How do I get my son in front of a baseball scout ? He is only 14 years old and a freshman in high school.

    Thank you

    • Avatar für Doug Bernier

      The reality is, he needs to be on a team with a player that a scout wants to see or he needs to be the guy the scout wants to see. He is still very young, don’t put too much pressure on him, he will still get bigger and stronger. Keep working on his skills and the scouts will show up. Thanks for writing in

      Good Luck,
      Doug Bernier

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