Average - 2.0 seconds
Catcher's and Pitcher's combined times vs. Base Stealers:
|More Than 3.3 seconds
||Likely Stolen Base
|Between 3.2 and 3.3 seconds
||50/50 chance of safely stealing base
|Less than 3.3 seconds
||Likely to be thrown out
You need to be at or below 3.2 seconds between first and second on a base stealing attempt against the combined average time of a major league catcher and pitcher. In his prime, Rickey Henderson was consistently at 3.0 - 3.1.
What's more, scouts rate players on both their present ability as well as their projected future potential. Talk about subjective.
How do you project "future potential?" Well, you can look at things like current size, age, body mechanics, the size of close family members, athletic ability of close family members and the like.
This is at best a guessing game, but it matters a fair amount in a scout's assessment of a player. You could even rate somewhat average in your present ability in a particular area, yet be considered a good prospect due to your possible "upside" or future potential. All of which leads us to the next section...
These are attributes deemed highly important but for which no technique exists to objectively measure the attribute. While you can easily time a thrown baseball or running speed, there is no way to measure an important trait such as "hand speed." It's just one of those things you look at and can see whether or not a hitter has it.
Yes, there are devices you can set up in a lab or clinic to measure bat speed. But, these are not convenient for a scout to use at a game, so a scout will say a prospect has good or excellent hand speed without a precise definition of what that means.
The problem, of course, is that two capable, experienced evaluators may define good and excellent somewhat differently.
Observing a good young hitter with truly outstanding hand speed and noting that fact is relatively easy. The trick, of course, is rating prospects of lesser ability while accurately projecting his "upside" or future potential.
Hence, we end up with situations like Kirby Puckett, a Hall of Famer who wasn't drafted or offered a college scholarship out of high school, and superstars like John Smoltz and Jose Canseco who were relatively low draft picks.
The most "infamous" of these stories may be that of Mike Piazza. Drafted in the 64th round by the LA Dodgers as a favor to his father, who was good friends with Tommy Lasorda (at the time the Dodger's manager) Piazza may turn out to be the best catcher in the history of the game. Many hundreds of players were selected in the draft ahead of him, most of whom never made it to the big leagues and are probably out of the game by now.
Could not ONE of these scouts have seen something in Piazza? What were the projections on Piazza's upside? There are many stories similar to these player's, and more still about high draft picks who were busts (see Clint Hurdle).
This is not meant as a knock on the scouts; it's a tough gig.
Work hard, and dream on. You just never know.
12 Specific Intangible Scouts Consider
This obviously could be a very long list and is best summed up by the following comment by Mike Batesole, Cal State Northridge Head Baseball Coach:
- Work habits
- Respect for the game
- Actions and preparation in the on-deck circle
- Off-field habits
- Intelligence (grades matter!)
"I watch everything a guy does when he's not at the plate or fielding a ball. Facial expressions, how he treats teammates, these are the clues that tell me whether he will be willing to put in the time it takes to be successful."
Train Hard, Train Smart