Exposure/Evaluation KPB Blog

Recruiters Are Looking For Tools: Always Run a Hard 90

Over the last few weeks, we’ve shared a scenario about a prospective college player that we’ve named Alex. If you haven’t read our earlier blogs about Alex,  do that before you read any further. This week, we’ve changed things up a bit.

Coach John has seen 4 of the infielders on his list and only Alex remains to be evaluated for his last scholarship slot. Coach John has already crossed off 2 of the 4 infielders because they have committed to other schools. A third player, Tyler, is still on his list. His notes on Tyler look like this:

  • 1B/6-3/F8/1B
  • Avg. Bat Speed
  • Solid stance, OK swing path, cuts across body a bit
  • Solid at SS/can play SS in college (made plays going right, left, but closing speed charging slow roller not quite up to par)
  • + Arm
  • No times to 1B! (pulled up after 85 feet on ball to infield where he was out) 4.45 on the pull up
  • Speed??? Need more

Using a 1-5 scale for the following categories, this is how Tyler checks out:

  • Hit for Avg: 3
  • Hit for Power: 3-
  • Arm strength: 4
  • Glove: 3-
  • Speed: 2+ (bad on charging ball/no time to 1st)

Coach John is now at Alex’s game. At the game, Alex plays very well defensively. He makes plays going both ways, and makes a very nice play on a slow roller. Despite not getting a hit, he hits the ball hard twice, and shows good speed on the bases. He has two ground balls on the infield that he legs out all the way down the line despite being out, giving coach John two impressive times. His foot-speed also shows in his range at shortstop and on the base path, where he steals a base. He is focused on the game and hustling. Coach John’s notes on Alex look like this:

  • + Defender and + actions on the infield
  • Nice play coming in on ball
  • + Runner 4.08, 4.1 times to 1B
  • Avg Bat Speed
  • Avg Arm/+ range
  • A little weak with bat, but projectable frame and more in there
  • + Hustle

On the 1-5 scale, Alex grades out as follows:

  • Hit for Avg: 3-
  • Hit for Power: 3
  • Arm Strength: 3
  • Glove: 4
  • Speed: 4/4+

As Coach John compares Alex and Tyler, he finds the biggest difference between them is speed. He knows Alex’s speed can be a difference maker and that he will be solid at short. Tyler has a better bat, will likely be solid at short, but John has only a vague idea about his speed. With players committing left and right, Coach John believes he can’t afford to wait. He decides to offer Alex the scholarship in what was a very difficult decision.

Lesson Learned:

  1. Even little things matter to recruiters. While coaches want to see you play well, they also do a lot of recruiting based on your tools and projectability. While your performance varies from game to game, tools give a sense of what you are capable of and how you will play throughout the course of a season.
  2. Speed is a very important factor for coaches. The main lesson to learn is ALWAYS RUN A HARD 90 FEET through 1st. Recruiters don’t care if you ground out to short, they care about getting a time to 1B.  The player Alex beat out for the scholarship didn’t technically do anything wrong by pulling up when he was already out, but he did hurt his recruitability. A busy coach may not get a second chance to get a player’s time to first; hustling at all times makes a huge difference. A good time to 1st  will erase an out in a coach’s mind any day of the week, just ask Alex.