7:46 pm November 18, 2011, by David O'Brien
November 29th, 20113:37 pm
I’m not sure if Pastornicky will be a solid everyday regular at SS or 2B, or just end up being a utility infielder, but a .278/.345/.374 line in the minors at SS when he was super young for every level is nothing to sneeze at. Have to remember how young he was for each level when analyzing Tyler, imo.
November 29th, 20113:39 pm
If someone told me our new SS would hit .314 with an OBP of .349 and steal 27 bases I’d be ecstatic… especially when compared to AGon who hit .241 with an OBP of .270 and 0 SB.
Yes, I know that Pastornicky isn’t likely to carry the same numbers when he jumps to the big leagues, but I’d bet Ward’s life on him performing better at the plate than AGon.
Here on 11/29, I would of expected one of the big free agents to sign. I wonder if any will ink a deal prior to next week’s meetings. Usually you get one guy signed by then.
November 29th, 20113:40 pm
I have this funny feeling that maybe Drew Sutton will be used as SS,and 3rd base until Pastornicky is ready.
True, when both of those guys sign. Trade talks will heat up for all the known starters on the market. But I dont think the Braves settle, unless they get a prospect they want really bad, someone like Wil Myers.
November 29th, 20113:41 pm
Murph – I would bet my life too……
November 29th, 20113:43 pm
VaBravesFan- I agree Wren, will not take less.
November 29th, 20113:47 pm
Make an offer for McCutchen is what I say. Prospects are prospects, McCutchen is young under team control til 2016 and is a proven player. Good across the board, hits well, gets on base and is developing into a middle of the order bat. A guy who has a chance to be a 30/30.
November 29th, 20113:48 pm
raleighbravefan, thanks for the kind words of encouragement.
November 29th, 20113:52 pm
Pretty good read from Schoenfield: http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/18705/nl-east-three-fixes-for-each-team
He isn’t as good as Rob Neyer though. I always liked him. Sabr guy, for sure. But I enjoyed his stuff more.
November 29th, 20113:53 pm
I’d still like to see us get Myers and Crow from KC but I won’t be against McCutchen over Jackson though.
November 29th, 20113:54 pm
All have a good one! Talk tonight after work. Peace……..
Make an offer for McCutchen is what I say.
Ahhh, they’re not trading the guy, come on. The offer it would take for the Pirates to listen would immediately mark the GM making such an offer as certifiable, and thus incapable of signing a binding contract.
November 29th, 20113:57 pm
It would cost alot but to add a legit allstar player who is only gonna get better makes alot of sense.
I’d offer Prado/Delgado/Bethancourt and Lipka or Simmons somthing like that. Prolly wouldnt be enough tho. I wouldnt go crazy but you do have to really pay to bring these types of players in.
November 29th, 20113:58 pm
jeffery d, all i need to know to use the phrase “when pastornicky is ready” is that he performed at AA and atlanta moved him up to AAA mid season. braves are clearly trying to get him ready, in my mind. “how good will he be when he is ready?” is a pertinent question. but lets be honest…looking at the SS market, a guy who would normally be a utility guy may pass as a starter. i mean…thats the definition of “stop gap” isnt it? who cares if we stop gap with a veteran or a rookie?
Ahhh, they’re not trading the guy, come on.
Yup. Trades like this don’t happen for guys with 4 years of control left and seasons of 121, 121, and 127 from CF. He is staying.
November 29th, 20114:00 pm
Ben_Duronio Ben Duronio
Starting to get the feeling JJ and Prado would be moved in a mega deal for a corner guy though.
I can’t think of a corner outfielder that makes sense in this scenario.
November 29th, 20114:04 pm
With Wren we have no clue whats going on. Anything can happen. Only thing for certain I can say wont happen is Rollins or Reyes. But when it comes to trades Wren is pretty creative. He did land Uggla for a utility infielder and a middle reliever. I’d do the deal again even if I knew Uggla would struggle in the 1st half. 30+ homer guys are very hard to find.
November 29th, 20114:05 pm
Ben_Duronio Ben Duronio
Starting to get the feeling JJ and Prado would be moved in a mega deal for a corner guy though.
I love comments where someone is “starting to get the feeling” that something is going to happen, based on absolutely 0 evidence. If nothing happens, everyone forgets the comment. On the off chance that it does, he can point back to his comment and brag.
November 29th, 20114:11 pm
I’m starting to get a feeling that the burrito I ate for lunch wants to come out and play… it’s going to be a mega deal, so you might not want to use the facilities for the next 20 minutes or so.
November 29th, 20114:12 pm
vabravesfan With Wren we have no clue whats going on. Anything can happen. Only thing for certain I can say wont happen is Rollins or Reyes
honestly, im not counting out rollins yet. there has been no indictation of a team being willing to give him 5 years, or whatever he is asking for. theres a chance his price could come down. a bit.
at the same time, if clint barmes is getting $5mil per, rollins is going to get quite a bit more. but it still might not be as much as some folks had guessed.
RC is becoming one of my favorite posters, dangit. He’s the anti-Sushi-List.
On the off chance that it does, he can point back to his comment and brag.
On such, careers are made. Ben sounds like a candidate at one of the (interminable) political debates, LOL.
November 29th, 20114:14 pm
Murph, you should have had the chili we made here at work today.. I’m not sure I’ll be right even tomorrow.
November 29th, 20114:15 pm
I just think the Braves are dead set on a stop gap type. There thinking Pastor or Simmons will be our guy. Onbly way will have enough moeny to sign him is for Jurrjens or Prado to be traded for prospects and salary relief. But dont get me wrong, I’d love to see Bourn and Rollins at the top of our order.
November 29th, 20114:18 pm
Prado and Bourn for Jackson and Castellanos, fixes both cf long term and possible replacement at 3rd long term. At the same time freeing up somewhere around 10 to 13 million.
November 29th, 20114:21 pm
Wren will surprise us with a kernel turd or a diamond.
November 29th, 20114:25 pm
So Bourn, the first real leadoff hitter so many have bit*** about not having all this time, is now a trading piece? Mercy people
November 29th, 20114:28 pm
TnBrian, Jackson is the same mold.. has a lot of speed and could actually put up better numbers than Bourn. Not to mention Jackson wouldn’t become a free agent until 2016.
November 29th, 20114:29 pm
Our first true leadoff hitter is going to leave after next season… so, if he can be used to get someone who will patrol CF for a few more years to come and has a similar skillset, then yeah, trade him.
November 29th, 20114:30 pm
then if we were unsuccessful at finding a LF via trade we could pony up whatever it would take to sign some like Beltran or Cuddyer.
November 29th, 20114:31 pm
Mark Bowman: http://markbowman.mlblogs.com/2011/11/29/braves-believe-pastornicky-is-ready/
Braves believe Pastornicky is ready
Braves general manager Frank Wren and his staff will likely be quite busy during next week’s Winter Meetings in Dallas. But instead of shopping to fill specific needs, they will likely spend much of their time listening to trade offers for Jair Jurrjens and Martin Prado.
The Braves entered this offseason looking to find a replacement for free agent shortstop Alex Gonzalez and exploring the possibility of adding a power-hitting outfielder. They believe they could acquire the kind of impact outfielder they are seeking via the significant returns they will request from any club interested in dealing for Jurrjens or Prado.
As for the shortstop position, it seems like the Braves would be content to enter Spring Training with Tyler Pastornicky projected to handle the role. They are currently looking to sign a veteran like Jack Wilson or Edgar Renteria to serve as a backup and provide insurance in the event that Pastornicky is not ready.
With Pastornicky and Andrelton Simmons in their system, the Braves are not looking to make a long-term commitment to a veteran shortstop. Simmons, who is considered one of the game’s top defensive shortstop prospects, might be ready to make the jump to the Majors after the All-Star break.
While it will certainly be interesting to see if the Braves do indeed enter the upcoming season with Pastornicky as their starting shortstop, next week’s attention will primarily center around Jurrjens and Prado.
Over the past month it has become even more apparent that Wren has told all interested teams that they will have to provide a significant return to get either Jurrjens or Prado.
The demand for Jurrjens will likely increase once C.J. Wilson and Mark Buehrle, this year’s top free-agent starting pitchers, decide where they will be pitching next year. The Rangers, Yankees, Marlins are among the teams that are expected to talk to the Braves about Jurrjens.
November 29th, 20114:34 pm
I really don’t think Andrelton Simmons will be ready at the All-Star break. I was thinking more like 2014.
November 29th, 20114:36 pm
then if we were unsuccessful at finding a LF via trade
The team has been unsuccessful for about four years in trying to find a LF bat, so I think a continuation of that futility is fairly likely.
TennPaul and I have looked for the tree that such players grow on, to no avail.
VaBravesFan I just think the Braves are dead set on a stop gap type. There thinking Pastor or Simmons will be our guy.
yeah, for the stopgap theory to be true, the braves must view one of those guys as being very close, like you mentioned.
at this point, with who is left on the market (career utility guys like santiago, ect.) i dont see how just throwing the rev in the fire could hurt. the only other thing would be trading for a player like aybar, or even barlett, ect.
i hate having that giant hole on our team. i hope we get answer soon.
November 29th, 20114:38 pm
The team has been unsuccessful for about four years in trying to find a LF bat,
Point taken, but I was hoping to hear some type of progress made in bringing Myers to Atlanta.
November 29th, 20114:41 pm
really don’t think Andrelton Simmons will be ready at the All-Star break.
Hey, if they’re thinking 100 ABs at AAA is enough for The Rev, a couple hundred at AA ought to be enough for Simmons, I guess.
Geez, we’ll be seeing guys come up wearing training diapers, if they promote ‘em much younger.
November 29th, 20114:43 pm
You subtract JJ, Prado, Lipka, Hoover and Bourn. You add Jackson, Crow, Myers, Castellanos and about 25 to 30 million dollars payroll space.
Can anyone say, CJ Wilson? A lefty righty punch of Hudson and Wilson at the top of our lineup?
but I won’t be against McCutchen over Jackson though….AT
I sure as heck hope not
November 29th, 20114:44 pm
nolie, I keep my options open..
November 29th, 20114:46 pm
Throw Zeke into the rotation. Sit Minor, that punk-arse polished college, lefty.
November 29th, 20114:48 pm
Imagine if the Braves took a college reliever with their #21 overall pick next year. Maybe a lefty….
November 29th, 20114:50 pm
Are you purposely trying to upset everyone?
November 29th, 20114:53 pm
can anybody say “none of that is happening, AT” ?
November 29th, 20114:57 pm
Maybe a lefty….
…but polished. Toujours polished!
can anybody say “none of that is happening, AT” ?
That’s not right.. isn’t this the time of year to dream your dreams? I’ve checked my list and that’s all I want for Christmas. Well.. that and a WS win in 2012.
November 29th, 20114:58 pm
Sorry guys but I’ve got to cut out of here, it’s quiting time. Everyone have a great evening.
November 29th, 20115:18 pm
efrim Imagine if the Braves took a college reliever with their #21 overall pick next year. Maybe a lefty….
its easy if you try.
November 29th, 20115:25 pm
I ain’t Buzz Lightyear, but I am Buzz Killer AT
November 29th, 20115:29 pm
high floor is the new black…….
November 29th, 20115:30 pm
I am just going to put this out there. I remember a year ago most everybody on the blog was up in arms over Mike Minor being drafted high by the Braves.
I think the last two months he pitched showed he could be a very good mid rotation starter or with a little more experience even a #2 starter.
Remember a few years from now, when Gilmartin starts to get better with major league coaching and physical maturity. He has a killer changeup, enough velocity to play off his changeup and once he refines his slider and Curveball( like Minor did this year) and improves his control. He will be in the same quality area that Minor has moved into.
I understand why everyone always wants 97 mph throwers, but Greg Maddox, Tom Glavine, Mark Buerle, Tim Hudson and Jair Jurjjens( when he is healthy) has proven velocity is hust a reading on the radar gun.
Who out in Braves land wouldn’t take a rotation of those soft throwers?
November 29th, 20115:40 pm
think the last two months he pitched showed he could be a very good mid rotation starter or with a little more experience even a #2 starter…CCR
I do not see him as a #2 at all.
but anyway the problem that some have is not really about him becoming a mid-level starter, that was pretty much accepted to begin with by those unhappy ones. The problem is that folks want a guy who has a chance to be a #1 starter even if there is more risk involved, with someone picked in the top 20 or so.;especially in the top 10. Minor was a signability pick more than he was a possible stud pick and some see that as the wrong approach.
Bay Area Steve
November 29th, 20115:44 pm
French? Was that French?
Jerk forces me to a dictionary almost daily, and now he’s goin’ multilingual? Geezaloo…
Tell me that’s a Carolina thing, or some movie-line circa 1935. Something…
November 29th, 20115:51 pm
If you take the money Wren has now and trade one and or both of JJ and Prado, plus their salary. I don’t think Wren will trade into a bad deal. Both JJ and Prado are very good players and liked in ATL. If they go, it will be for a return we should be happy about.
November 29th, 20115:58 pm
I think the chances of trading Jj are extremely low. He already has less trade value than normal, and if you add the possible team need if Huddy takes a while to get back, and I have a hard time believing that we would get enough to make it worth while
November 29th, 20116:03 pm
nolie; That was the point I was trying to make. Nobody saw Glavine, Maddox, Buerhle, Hudson or JJ as being No.1 starters when they were drafted.
Everyone is obsessed with if a guy can’t throw like Verlander he can’t be a No. 1 starter.
Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay James Sheilds and scores of top pitchers live in the 92-94 MPH range.
Being a NO.1 is more about : Pitching under pressure, control, multiple pitches, movement and confidence to throw any pitch at any time.
I just get annoyed when I see a very good pitcher who is just starting his career getting devalued before they have even been able to pitch for a few seasons.
By, that logic Glavine and Maddox (after their first couple of seasons )wouldn’t have had the opportunity to become Hall of Famers.
November 29th, 20116:06 pm
Greg Maddux is joining the Rangers as a special assistant, meaning he’ll finally be with his brother Mike (Rangers pitching coach) on the same team.
November 29th, 20116:08 pm
It’s Maddux… Greg Maddux.
The only Maddox I know of is this Maddox:
November 29th, 20116:16 pm
there is absolutely no way that you can tell if anybody can be another Glavine when they are drafted. You go by the odds and at that point those odds are judged by tools for the most part. and high ceiling (better odds) is more important to some folks when talking about a very early first round choice.
you pick whatever approach you fancy. The Braves used to be very much a high ceiling team and they had years of success so since they have become more interested in safe choices some folks think it is the wrong approach long term
it’s a risk vs reward decision that each team views differently. we certainly ain’t gonna change each others minds
November 29th, 20116:17 pm
two thirds of the world is covered by water, the rest is covered by Garry Maddox
November 29th, 20116:36 pm
nolie: I wasn’t trying to change anybodys opinion on their drafting viewpoint. I just want the Bloggers to be patient and not rag on a young Braves pitcher that has only just gotten his feet wet. He could turn into the next Cliff Lee or the next Horacio Ramirez. I think he(Gilmartin) will top out as a good 3rd starter, but it could be better or worse.
November 29th, 20116:37 pm
Nice one, nolie
November 29th, 20116:42 pm
nolie; By the way, the new changes in the CBA and the lower levels that can be paid to amateur players, could change the Braves way of drafting, as well as the intenational draft.
Everyone is going to be more cautious handing risky contracts.
If you were still scouting, you might be in for a big raise. Scouting will be much more important than ever!
Steve from OH
November 29th, 20116:44 pm
I thought the rest was covered by Champ Bailey?
November 29th, 20116:48 pm
I thought it was David Ross
November 29th, 20116:54 pm
nah they stole it from Baseball Steve
November 29th, 20116:55 pm
actually salary was the main reason I had to quit baseball. Scouts still don’t get paid all that much
November 29th, 20116:57 pm
Couldn’t afford any more monocles?
Why should you be, you get to watch baseball free. Same for beat writers.
McFann O O o
November 29th, 20117:00 pm
jeffrey d I thought it was David Ross
Not sure what you’re talking about, but yes—It’s always David Ross.
my ex had trouble grasping that line of reasoning CB.
November 29th, 20117:02 pm
yes, Ross is way faster than McChubby…..
November 29th, 20117:03 pm
I meant he throws out more baserunners
November 29th, 20117:04 pm
But your ability to show up at even the smallest slight of McCann is uncanny
November 29th, 20117:05 pm
my 93, almost 94, year old mother could likely still throw out more baserunners.
depending on who’s pitching of course……
November 29th, 20117:08 pm
I think the chances of trading Jj are extremely low. He already has less trade value than normal, and if you add the possible team need if Huddy takes a while to get back
Yup, I agree with that at this point. Hanson’s shoulder and Hudson’s back. I don’t know if they are truly concerned with either – I guess we’ll find out. I’d like to keep Jair. I actually think Prado could go, just my opinion there.
November 29th, 20117:14 pm
Thank you, jeffrey!…
Oh God that Bowman is so unreliable. Renteria? He had bad range when he was a Brave, imagine now. Thing is he proof reads this stuff and then posts it on the web. He believes in himself for some reason I guess. I do not like him, at least as a writer.
November 29th, 20117:15 pm
And actually, BMac through out 29 base runners while Ross only through out 11…
Renteria is former WS MVP
November 29th, 20117:16 pm
According to Bowman you might as well throw Chipper at SS. Who cares, right.
November 29th, 20117:17 pm
Whoa…grammar error! Uh…Back at you, jeffery!!
November 29th, 20117:18 pm
we could start Ross at SS and get his bat in the lineup more often
Well somebody’s going to sign Renteria (probably). So at least some teams reporters’ are going to be right when they say their teams are interested
November 29th, 20117:19 pm
He needs to be either in the outfield or at pitcher to show off his impeccable arm
November 29th, 20117:20 pm
Brian has DH written all over him one day soon. Of course we’ll be stuck watching him erode further and further as a catcher. I think he’ll always hit though. Sweet swing.
November 29th, 20117:22 pm
we already have three tree stumps manning the infield, adding Renteria might very well set a brand new baseball record for most infield singles given up in one season…..
November 29th, 20117:23 pm
whadaya mean, short demands about the best arm on the team
November 29th, 20117:24 pm
considering he was named 4th best defensive catcher this year, I’m not all that worried about erosion quite yet TnB….
November 29th, 20117:25 pm
Red Sox to hire Bobby V.
Better not be us jeffrey. He’s of no use. Don’t say a good clubhouse guy either. Hinske was signed again for his clubhouse humor and pep talks. That’s enough, get some good young talent up in here.
November 29th, 20117:26 pm
might be interesting between Bobby and the owner
November 29th, 20117:28 pm
McCann will have a strong .850ish year next year which will lead Wren to extend him from 2013-2017. 5 years, 62.5 million.
I’d love it if it was just a four year deal through 2016, but I’m not sure McCann would accept it.
November 29th, 20117:31 pm
nolie, must be some sh*** catchers in the league then. Now he did improve on his blocking, but as the season wore on I noticed a few more than necessary slipping by. His throwing? Base runners pad their SB success rate against Brian.
November 29th, 20117:32 pm
Efrim,they said they needed a serious manager and they got a guy who put a fake mustache on and sneaked back into the dugout. Riiight.
November 29th, 20117:38 pm
Base runners pad their stats against Hanson and Moylan. I would guess Macs CS% is about league average if not for those two…
November 29th, 20117:40 pm
TnBrian Base runners pad their SB success rate against Brian.
No, they pad them off our pitchers.
Now he did improve on his blocking, but as the season wore on I noticed a few more than necessary slipping by.
He got hurt.
jeffrey d [Ross] needs to be either in the outfield or at pitcher to show off his impeccable arm
Eh, he could show it off at SS…might even be better than AGon…
November 29th, 20117:41 pm
I recently found this in Baseball Examiner;it is very long, but covers an awful lot of questions about judging players. If you read it all you will know almost as much as me…if you are as smart as me….which is pretty unlikely…………..
How large a role does scouting actually play in baseball?
Scouting plays a larger role in baseball than it does any other sport. Sure, the NBA, NFL and NHL use advance scouts for teams they will soon play and they also scout amateur players for the upcoming draft. Baseball does both as well but still relies more heavily on scouts than the other sports, especially the NFL and NBA.
The other sports use game film for a great deal of the advance scouting. For amateur scouting, the NFL and NBA rely heavily on pre-draft combines to analyze prospective draftees. Baseball sends its scouts out in the field much more extensively.
Baseball’s amateur scouts are in the field enough to draft up to 50 rounds of talent (up to 1,500 players). The NFL uses seven rounds. The NBA uses two. Both the NFL and NBA also have a much more highly profiled feeder system in the college ranks. Baseball has to work harder to go out and find the talent consisting of collegians, high schoolers, junior college players as well as several foreign-born players in countries where English is not the native tongue.
Baseball also has 180 rosters of minor league teams to consider for future transactions. With all the minor league teams to scout and all the amateur players to research, baseball definitely relies more on its scouts than the other sports.
What does a scout look for?
A scout is always looking for a potential major leaguer. And it’s all based on projection. Very rarely will a scout ever see a player who is already major league caliber. He has to see the potential of a player and do his best to forecast the future. Scouts look through the current strengths and weaknesses of a player and examine whether the tools are there to allow him to make an impact at the major league level.
What are these “tools” you speak of?
The tools are primarily in reference to position players. A scout will rate a player’s skill level for each of the five tools: hitting, power, fielding, arm strength and speed.
Which of the five tools is considered most important?
Well, it may depend on the primary position of a player. But for the most part, the first thing about a position player we discuss is his ability or inability to hit the ball. Scouts judge a player’s swing looking for details including, but not limited to, bat speed, a level swing, full arm extension and follow-through.
The swing will often show its holes by the mechanics of the player’s body. A scout looks for what the feet are doing, what the hips are doing, what the shoulders are doing and several other biomechanical factors. A player with a “good bat” will make consistently good contact with the ball and the ball should bounce off the bat with some authority when struck.
Isn’t power part of hitting? Why is it considered a different tool?
Power is part of hitting, but it’s a different aspect of it. Hitting as a tool judges a player’s ability to put the ball sharply in play. Power as a tool is the ability to hit the ball high and far.
Consider power a supplemental tool to hitting. Without a good hitting approach, power will be much more difficult to realize. A good hitter who lacks power will find it reasonably easier to later add power than will a player with good power-potential lacking a “good bat” develop into a well-rounded hitter. I know that was a complicated statement, so after you spend a moment to further examine it more closely, consider the following simplified version: power will feed off the hitting, not vice versa.
A good hitter will, with experience, eventually show some power by adding a loft to his swing and making other subtle adjustments. That is partly why power is typically the last of the five tools to develop. Power is also late to develop because, though young players may already have a good swing, bodies aren’t fully matured until the early-to-mid 20s. A player at age 18, 19 or 20 is not nearly as strong and filled-out as he will be by age 24, 25 and on. And scouts are asked to predict how strong a boy is expected to be when he becomes a man. Not easy!
What about fielding?
What about fielding?
What does a scout look for in evaluating defense?
Evaluating defense is certainly position specific. But a scout looks deeper than a player’s success at a certain position. He examines the hands, the footwork, the mental capacities of the player. Sometimes the scout determines, based on the player’s skills, that the best position for him isn’t at all the one he’s currently playing.
How do we know what position is best for a player?
Well, if the player is lefthanded, he’s immediately relegated to the outfield or first base. So, among righthanders, the better skilled he is with the glove the more likely he will be tried as an infielder.
Among the infield positions, shortstop and second base require the most range. Turning a double play also necessitates sure hands and agile footwork around the bag. Third base does not require the same kind of range but rather quickness (in terms of reaction time) and agility must be present. If a player does not have good, soft hands he’ll likely end up in the outfield.
The 4th tool, arm strength, also plays a significant role in determining a player’s most appropriate position. An infielder with a strong arm will likely play on the left side of the infield, shortstop or third base. The strongest outfield arm is usually in rightfield. The weakest arms in the infield and outfield will often be second base and leftfield, respectively.
If arm strength is part of fielding, then why is it considered a tool of its own?
Well, as hitting and power are each tools of offensive skill, both fielding and arm strength are defensive tools. Grading a player’s fielding incorporates the hands, feet, positioning, reaction to ground balls or fly balls, etc. A player’s arm is graded separately. He may be a good fielder with a poor arm or be a poor fielder with a strong arm. The two tools are distinct.
A player with a strong arm will be able to throw on a tight line with some zip on it. And it must be accurate. A weaker arm will need to throw with more loft or arc. And whether it’s strong or not, if it’s not accurate it won’t do you any good.
Why isn’t speed considered part of defense?
It is! It’s also considered part of offense. It’s the only tool that plays a factor both offensively and defensively.
On defense, speed impacts the range of a player. Speed is distinct from the range aspect of fielding because a player may not have great speed yet know how to position himself properly. A player with great speed doesn’t necessarily read flyballs correctly and may make several misplays in the field.
Offensively, it can be used as a weapon on the basepaths. Or be a hindrance. And don’t necessarily assume a player with speed is an automatic to be successful in stealing bases. Several speedy players in the minors may get caught stealing as often as they are safe. Reading a pitcher, taking a good lead and getting a good jump are each factors to produce a quality base stealer.
Though there have been several players who have better foot speed than Carlos Beltran, nobody in the history of the game has been more successful in stealing bases (over 89% success rate). He’s a very smart baserunner. Even someone with the speed and athleticism of Deion Sanders stole 75% of his attempts in his baseball-playing days, which is still very successful. But it takes more than just speed to steal bases and Beltran proves that basestealing is a skill beyond simply raw speed.
How does a scout grade each of the 5 tools?
Scouts use a 20-to-80 scale to grade each tool. 50 is considered major league average with 20 at the lowest and 80 at elite status. Neither extreme is given out very often. Some scouts may use a 2-to-8 scale, which is basically the same, only that the 20-80 scale is used in increments of 5 (50, 55, 60, etc.) rather than increments of 1 (5, 6, etc.).
For a player to be considered a quality major league prospect, he should be above average in at least two of the tools. A player who is above major league average in only one tool will be considered one-dimensional. A player who is average across the board with no “plus” tool will be deemed mediocre and likely suited for a bench or utility role. If each tool is considered potentially above major league average, he gets that prestigious label of being a “5-tool prospect”.
Sample scouting grade for Player X:
Hitting: 60 (above average)
Power: 40 (below average)
Fielding: 55 (average-to-above average)
Arm: 50 (average)
Speed: 65 (well above average)
From these sample grades, I would assume this player is a leadoff hitter, likely playing a middle-infield position or centerfield.
How can you tell?
The first cue follows the old scouting adage: “Defense up the middle; power in the corners.” The lack of power from Player X lessens the chances he will play a corner infield (1st base or 3rd base) or corner outfield (leftfield or rightfield) position.
Secondly, his speed will put him in centerfield unless there is a tremendous defensive outfielder on the team who may push him to leftfield. If he is kept in the infield, his average arm strength is the only tool that might force him to the right side of second base if there is a stronger and better defensive shortstop on the roster.
Finally, his hitting ability would allow him to hit in the top third of the order. His speed and lack of power seal the deal as a leadoff hitter. If he lacked speed and had power potential, he’d be a key run-producer, likely 3rd or 4th.
So, which tools are better suited for each position?
You’d like to know, wouldn’t you? Baseball America has supplied a synopsis of what a scout envisions about the ideal player for each position. He observes the tools of a player and matches it with the profile of a position that is most suitable. Here is how each position profiles, ranking the importance of each tool from greatest to least:
Note that hitting is the most desired tool at each position except the traditionally defensive-oriented positions of catcher, shortstop and centerfield which each have fielding first. In fact, hitting ranks no lower than the third most desired tool at any position. Also note that hitting always precedes power.
As stated previously, the positions that value power the most are the corner positions. As the game continues to evolve, also observe how the expectations of the second base position has become a much more offensively productive position than traditionally perceived. Players like Jeff Kent, Ray Durham and Bret Boone come to mind. Any power from the catcher, shortstop and centerfield positions are bonus.
The three positions that place a greater value on arm strength are catcher, shortstop and rightfield. And speed is more valued for centerfielders and the middle infield, as expected, yet ranks no higher than third on any list.
Based on a synthesis of these lists, I suppose we could rank the overall value of tools in this order: hitting, fielding, power, arm, speed.
Okay. Let’s change gears for a moment. My team has an All-Star shortstop. They also have a couple decent shortstop prospects in the minors. And then they went out and drafted yet another shortstop in the first round of the most recent draft! What are they thinking?!? Do they have a clue?
Dear Disgruntled in Draftville; Yes, they do have a clue and they are thinking that they want to acquire the best collection of talent possible.
Then why so many shortstops?
I just told you! They want to acquire the best collection of talent possible! Just because a player is a shortstop in the minors does not mean he will play there in the Majors. And just because a player is drafted as a shortstop does not mean he will play there even in the minors, let alone if he ever makes it to the big leagues. Many, many, many major league players that are not shortstops were one day shortstops either in the minors, in college or in high school.
Think of it this way, when you have a high schooler with legitimate hopes of entertaining a professional career, he’s going to be the best athlete on his team. And where do the best athletes play? Shortstop. It does not mean he will remain at shortstop at a more competitive level. For when he gets to the next level (either the minors or college) he’ll be competing against several other guys who were also high school shortstops. And they can’t all continue to play shortstop. The ones who do remain at shortstop in the minors may not even continue to stay there while they advance through the system.
It’s possible for a team to draft 5 shortstops among their first 10 selections, only truly anticipating that perhaps 2 of them will continue to play the position a couple seasons later. The others will move to other positions.
Most major league second basemen were minor league shortstops. Shortstops can grow out of their position and move to third base. A great majority of young shortstops are weeded out and moved to the outfield where fielding and arm strength are not as highly valued. Only the best remain.
Anyway, in general, shortstops are good athletes with quality tools. Why not try to accumulate as many good athletes with quality tools at positions all over the field?
We’ve only been talking about position players the whole time. What about pitchers?
Pitchers are judged primarily on his pitches, command and composure (or makeup). We’ll first discuss the pitches he throws. The fastball is not always the best pitch but it’s usually the place to start.
Why start with the fastball?
First of all, almost every pitcher has one. Secondly, the effectiveness of his other pitches will draw off his fastball. Thirdly, velocity is easy to measure. Let’s examine a basic scouting scale to measure velocity.
What velocity doesn’t tell us about the fastball is the movement. That’s something a scout also considers in grading the pitch.
Another reason to start with the fastball is because of all the pitches a pitcher may throw, it’s more due to natural ability than learned skill. Pitchers can learn to throw a curveball, slider or changeup. Velocity can not be taught. There are ways to improve it, but only so slightly. Usually, either a pitcher has a lightning bolt in his arm or he doesn’t.
Consider this: would you rather have a pitcher with one above-average pitch or two above-average pitches?
I’d rather have a pitcher with two above-average pitches. Duh!
Exactly. A pitcher with an above-average fastball can learn to improve his average curveball. A pitcher with an above-average curveball is pretty much stuck with God-given average velocity. It’s easier for a hard thrower to develop better secondary pitches. A pitcher with an ordinary fastball has to find more resourceful ways to be successful.
What about a guy like Greg Maddux? He has an average fastball.
True. Greg Maddux’s fastball has always been ordinary. But Maddux had a plus curveball and a plus-plus changeup with outstanding command and tremendous makeup. He had to excel in several other ways to be as successful as he was without an above-average fastball.
What is this “plus” and “plus-plus” you’ve been speaking of?
It’s pretty much just scouting jargon. “Plus” is above-average (a 60 on the scale) and “plus-plus” is well above-average (a 70 on the scouting scale). An 80 pretty much speaks for itself.
So what does it take for a scout to deem a pitcher as a potential major league ace?
Before we get to that, we need to define a standard of what it takes to be an ace. Does each team have an ace? Are there 30 different standards for being an ace? Does being the ace of the Yankees or Cubs staff carry the same weight as being the ace of the Tigers or Reds? Some teams’ third starter would be the ace elsewhere. So we can’t use a team-by-team standard to define a pitcher as being a #1, #2 or #3, etc. We have to develop a scale that puts every pitcher from all 30 teams on the same level.
The scouting community has done that. It has formed a reasonable standard of expectation for what it takes to compile a championship-caliber pitching staff. The following chart is an example of what kind of expectations are placed on a pitcher based on these attributes:
#1 Starter: Two plus pitches, average third pitch, plus-plus command, plus makeup
#2 Starter: Two plus pitches, average third pitch, average command, average makeup
#3 Starter: One plus pitch, two average pitches, average command, average makeup
#4 & #5 starters: Average velocity, consistent breaking ball, decent changeup, command of two of the pitches
Closer: One dominant pitch, second plus pitch, plus command, plus-plus makeup
Note that the 1st and 2nd starters can throw the same stuff. The difference is found in the command and makeup. A pitcher’s makeup would include his character, focus, intensity, etc. The 3rd starter is the same as the 2nd starter except one of the plus pitches becomes average. Average would be the best word to describe the overall skill of the typical 4th and 5th starters on a major league staff.
What about relief pitchers other than the closer role? Why are they not mentioned?
Well, note that three average-or-better pitches are required for a starting pitcher. A starting pitcher with only two average-or-better pitches is called a relief pitcher. I would guess that about 90% of all major league relief pitchers were minor league starters. Most pitchers who have good enough stuff to be a true major league hopeful will be kept in the starting role for as long as possible. If the pitcher fails to develop a decent third pitch by the time he gets to the Bigs, that’s often when he gets bumped to the bullpen.
A championship-caliber closer is a reliever with two above-average pitches. If he had a third pitch that was at least average, he’d likely be a starter. While other relievers may also have two quality pitches, the ones with the plus-plus makeup are those who will better handle the pressures of the closer role. Ordinary middle relievers should throw two pitches that are at least average.
Great! Thanks for all the info! Now I’m going to go out and get myself a job as a scout!
Best wishes to you! You have plus ambition. But perhaps your technique is still only a 30.
November 29th, 20117:48 pm
ow wow I wasted that on the bottom of a page;nobody will even see it
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