Jackson Merrill (from Severna Park HS) suited up for the Arizona Complex League (ACL) Padres, a rookie-level affiliate of the San Diego Padres, in July and August at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, Arizona.
Merrill got his professional career off to a hot start, batting .355 with 11 hits and five RBIs in his first 31 at-bats
Who is #94 on the List?
Today was a very pleasant day for me. Varsity baseball game – Gilman Greyhounds @ Calvert Hall Cardinals. This stadium is arguably one of the nicest high school facilities within a 60 mile radius.
On my way out to my son’s baseball practice (Citius MD) I stopped off @ Overlea HS to check up on some improvements since the pandemic (e.g. new batting cages). As I got out of the car I was interrupted by a phone call from the President of Cooperstown HOF, Tim Mead.
Ironically, I only noticed the first name and I thought it was Tim Trembley (another great baseball hound working with Orioles in Sarasota). After a short “mistaken identity” serendipitous moment, we discussed some of the exciting young O’s talent who recently debuted @ Camden Yards.
What makes this story really interesting is the fact that Mr. Mead thought I was Brooks Robinson after a phone call shortly after we met when I was an umpire at Dream Park and All-Star Village.
You can watch the live streamed feed (Click here). When I found out the game was being televised, there were immediately quite a few reasons for wanting to watch 1 hour, 47 minute dual between two of the top MIAA teams.
2021 Major League Baseball draft
Sunday, July 11 and ends on Tuesday, July 13
As of April 29, 2021 he is ranked 94th on the Major League prospects this year (Read more ).
Heubeck has been committed to attend Wake Forest University since his sophomore year. He also ranked very high on National and Maryland State Rankings for both Perfect Game and PBR
Peter Heubeck is Gilman’s top weapon and was by far the primary reason and I studied his delivery.
This RHP is very smooth, gets into a nice timing motion with short back step, text book leg kick and had commanding control most of the game. He got into some big trouble early with a HBP followed by a BB which and an 1-3 ground ball error. It turns out this was the ONLY inning both teams manufactured runs resulting in a 2-1 victory for Coach Lou Eckerl.
You couldn’t tell from the press box, but apparently there were dozens of scouts and coaches in the stands with speed guns measuring Heubeck’s analytics (Read more ). I also really enjoyed watching the Gilman shortstop. Very fine player with sound mechanics and some razzle dazzle. He made two terrific plays in the 5th and 6th innings that very HS players would have made it look so easy.
Another reason why game was so significant is because Heubeck’s father was my classmate at John Carroll HS. Rob and I grew up together in Bel Air, MD and were teammates in baseball, we also played years of soccer together. I specifically remember Rob having two younger brothers and all three of them were GREAT athletes. Moreover, Rob has been extremely successful accepting the role as Dean of Students a few years ago @ Gilman.
Then there is Larry Sheets. I never knew this until years later that he was drafted higher than Cal Ripken, Jr. When Larry played left field for the Orioles I remember how the entire stadium would get behind him, rooting him on, “L-A-R-R-Y, L-A-R-R-Y”. Followed by Home Run. Great power hitter. Best of all when I approached him back in 2017 and asked if would be interested in helping my son’s baseball league he didn’t hesitate saying, “Yes”. Great guy and funny sense of humor! Read more
2021 VSN BASEBALL PLAYERS & COACH OF THE YEAR
SEVERNA PARK’S JACKSON MERRILL IS VSN’S BASEBALL PLAYER OF THE YEAR, WHILE GILMAN’S LARRY SHEETS AND PETER HEUBECK ARE HONORED AS VSN COACH OF THE YEAR AND VSN PITCHER OF THE YEAR, RESPECTIVELY
A former major leaguer, who spent six of his eight MLB years with the Baltimore Orioles, and two rising stars who very well may hear their names called in next week’s MLB First Year Free Agent Draft, have taken VSN’s top honors for the 2021 high school baseball season.
Gilman School’s Larry Sheets is the VSN Baseball Coach of the Year, while his ace Peter Heubeck is the VSN Pitcher of the Year. The two helped lead the Greyhounds to their first MIAA A Conference championship since 2010. In addition, Severna Park’s Jackson Merrill, one of the top home run hitters in state history, is the VSN Player of the Year.
Here are their stories:
2021 VSN BASEBALL PLAYER OF THE YEAR
JACKSON MERRILL – SEVERNA PARK HS
In baseball it’s a very simple game if you are looking to get noticed by the guys with the radar guns, stop watches and notebooks. Just take your bat to the plate and launch a bunch of home runs and once in awhile go in the hole and make a big league play with your glove and arm when those guys are hanging around.
That’s exactly Severna Park’s Jackson Merrill did in 2021, earning him the coveted title of 2021 VSN Baseball Player of the Year.
Merrill ignored those who said he played in a band box as he tied the school and county record by Keith Brunst in 1998 with a dozen long balls, missing the state public school record by just one, as a heard of pro scouts watched his every move.
The truth is that most of Jackson’s home runs were bombs that would have left any park and just to prove he could smack them anywhere, he drove onto the flag court at Oriole Park at Camden Yards during the 39th Brooks Robinson High School All Star Game.
“It was very exciting seeing the scouts there everyday, but when it was time to play, I just put them out of my mind and concentrated on the game and my teammates, ” said Merrill.
Most didn’t think there would be state playoffs, but when they announced they would take place, it extended the high school season into the third week of June. Usually the state prep season is over in late May.
As a result, Merrill and the Falcons made a third run to the Class 4A State Final since 2015 and the 6-3, 195-pound, slick fielding shortstop with the exploding bat took advantage of the extra time for prospect hunting. Merrill is believed to be the first state public school player to whack at least one homer in four consecutive playoff games.
On the season, Merrill batted .500 (23-for-46) with the 12 home runs, scored 32 runs and knocked in 37 while flawlessly and sometimes spectacularly playing shortstop. Through hard work with friend and strength trainer Juan Palacios, his baseball IQ, dedication to the game, and his Falcons’ coach Eric Milton, Merrill has turned himself into a top notch pro prospect.
“It’s been great playing for coach Milton,” said Merrill of the former University of Maryland and Major league pitcher who of course knows the game well. “He has helped me an awful lot in the process.
“Juan played semi-pro baseball and has helped me with my fielding, hitting and training. We have a routine we go through practically everyday, hitting and fielding. The work ethic is vital to success.”
Merrill is projected to be selected in the second or third round of the MLB first year free agent draft that begins Sunday with the first two rounds and continues through Monday and Tuesday.
His potential raw power with his bit of an uppercut from the left-side is a plus that the scouts like. He uses the whole field and spreads his homers around but he needs to work on turning on the ball. Right now he has an inside-out swing that can be changed to his benefit.
Defensively he is expected to get a good shot at playing shortstop at the next level with his superb actions, foot speed, good hands and arm strength, but he could be moved to third or second base.
“I would like to play short, but I will play wherever they want me to play,” said Merrill. “I just want the chance.”
Merrill, who has a baseball scholarship to the University of Kentucky, has said it’s his “goal to play professional baseball,” and he is hoping for the right opportunity. The late first baseman Jim Spencer was the highest drafted public school player from this area out of nee Andover High in 1965, in the first round of the inaugural draft by the California Angels, the 11th player chosen overall.
Including private schools, the highest area players ever chosen were Mount St. Joseph grads and Chartwell neighbors, pitcher Gavin Floyd and corner player Mark Teixeira as first rounders in 2001. Floyd was the fourth player overall selected right out of high school by the Philadelphia Phillies while Teixeira was the fifth, tabbed in the first round by the Texas Rangers out of Georgia Tech.
As the top-seed in the 4A playoffs, the Falcons played all of their games at Severna Park, with four straight wins before playing for the State Championship at a neutral site.
The Falcons were 17-1 overall after winning the Anne Arundel County Championship and posting a 13-0 regular season record, the first undefeated baseball team in school history. Their JV team was 12-0 under coach Dave Ferris. That was also a first for both teams together.
Merrill hit his 12 dongs in just 15 games due to an ankle injury that sidelined him for two games and his big fly playoff streak ended in the state final in a 5-4 loss to Sherwood of Montgomery County in 8 innings. Merrill occasionally pitched in relief and pitched the last three innings of the state championship game suffering the loss by giving up the winning run in the bottom of the eighth.
The game was played at Regency Furniture Stadium in Waldorf, home of the professional independent Maryland Blue Crabs.
“Jackson has come a long way since his sophomore season in 2019,” said coach Milton. “He has been dedicated to getting better and has a lot of great tools that should lead him to success whether he signs or goes to Kentucky.”
“Yes, I think he can be a good pro. His teammates are pulling for him.”
During his streak, Merrill first homered in a 4-0 victory over Broadneck with nearly 60 scouts and Kentucky coach Nick Mingione looking on and three days later in a 6-0 win over Leonardtown in the Class 4A East Region II final, he belted a three-run shot. Baltimore Orioles GM Mike Elias was in attendance with another crowd of scouts (approximately 30) and went right to his I-phone after the ball got out traveling nearly 400 feet to centerfield.
Then, in an 8-3 triumph over a good Howard team that had become a Falcon nemesis in recent years, Merrill ripped his 10th homer, a solo shot to center in the 4A state quarterfinals. Home runs No. 11 and 12 came in a 20-0 demolition of Laurel in the state semis.
No. 11 was a grand slam that had the Severna Park fans and parents crazy as it capped and 8-run first inning on the way to a 5-inning have mercy on the opponent rule.
2021 VSN BASEBALL – PITCHER OF THE YEAR
PETER HEUBECK – GILMAN SCHOOL
He first tried out at Gilman School for the baseball team as a catcher and ended up as the best pitcher in the Baltimore area and beyond. Peter Heubeck is the 2021 VSN Pitcher of the Year for 2021 after leading the Greyhounds to the MIAA A Conference Championship.
Heubeck was the Greyhounds’ ace going 8-2 overall with an ERA of 1.20, 101 strikeouts in 64.2 innings pitched while walking only 20 (one intentional) and opponents hitting a measly .115 against him as Gilman won its first MIAA A Conference Championship since 2010, with a 6-2 over No. 1 seed Archbishop Spalding in the finals.
No. 2 seed Gilman went 4-0 in the MIAA post season double-elimination Tournament with Heubeck winning two of the games, including his final start which proved to be the “best game” of his career in his words and those of his coach Larry Sheets. He concluded his career by pitching the final inning of the championship game.
Heubeck fired a three-hitter, the last two hits given up in the seventh inning, struck out a career high 15 and retired 16 in a row at one point in posting a dominant 3-2 victory over John Carroll to send the Hounds to the finals where they had to be beaten twice.
“It was my best game in all of my high school career,” said Heubeck, who came a long way from his freshman year in 2018 when he pitched and lost his first game, 5-1, at Georgetown Prep in 30-degree weather with light snow falling.
“I had all three (fast ball, curve and change) of my pitches working that day. I was well prepared for the game and knowing that it was likely to be the last start of my high school career and it was home at Gilman. It was a really special day.”
The 6-foot-3, 180-pound right-hander has impressed pro scouts since 2018 and the interest in him soared at times this season. Heubeck has commited to Wake Forest, but is expected to be a high selection in the upcoming MLB first year Free Agent Draft. The draft starts with the first two rounds on Sunday (July 11) and finishes on Monday and Tuesday.
Heubeck, who was also named a preseason first team player by the Maryland State Association of Baseball Coaches twice and was later named the Maryland Gatorade Player of the Year (2021), will likely have a big decision to make.
Playing in National Tournaments with the Louisiana Knights in summer baseball during his high school years also helped Heubeck get a lot of exposure and helped him mature as a pitcher. Most of the play was in Georgia and it really helped to fill the void from no high school ball last year.
Gilman had lost the A Conference finale in 2018 and 2019 to powerhouses Archbishop Curley and Calvert Hall. respectively, before COVID-19 wiped out the 2020 season after only two games. Returning this spring, the Hounds’ 11 seniors obviously had an added incentive and the player to lead the mission.
“Undoubtedly Peter is the best and most polished pitcher we’ve had here since I became head coach and he was absolutely our leader, leading by example and the kind of person people like to be around,” said coach Sheets, who took the reins of the Gilman program in 2010 and as mentioned won the A Conference title in his first season.
“His demeanor and don’t care attitude are part of his excellent work ethic and makeup. His fast-ball is consistently in the 90 to 93 range, occasionally 94 and he hit 97 one time. His off-speed stuff is excellent. He has a great changeup and curve ball.”
Coach Sheets’ remark about Heubeck’s “don’t care attitude” is his not letting anything bother him when he is out on the bump. His poise is exceptional. It’s always on to the next pitch or play for Heubeck, putting any negativity behind him.
Heubeck was the leader of a veteran team with a keen blend of hungry underclassmen. When Heubeck was not out on the bump, Sheets continued his successful pitch-by-committee strategy that rung up the team’s other nine wins.
Sheets recalled Heubeck trying out as a freshman catcher in 2018. The coach liked his arm and lean frame that projected upper body strength.
“I was skinny for a catcher and coach Sheets suggested I try pitching after being a catcher all my life,” said Heubeck. “I really got into it and remember my first win (2018) by 6-3 at Loyola. I give Coach Sheets a lot of the credit for what happened after that.
“It was awesome when we found out that we were going to play this season after missing out in 2020. We had a great group of guys last year and we were all so disappointed. I really felt for our seniors last year. But this year our seniors believed in each other and thought we could get back to the finals a third time and win. The younger kids fell in line and believed we had something special.””
With the coveted championship in hand, Heubeck should have a special choice coming up after the MLB Draft – Wake Forest or professional baseball.
“I have talked to Peter and his parents (Robert and Elizabeth) and told them there are consequences, but neither decision (college or pro) is bad,” Sheets advised.
2021 VSN BASEBALL – COACH OF THE YEAR
LARRY SHEETS – GILMAN SCHOOL
Gilman School coach Larry Sheets, the former Baltimore Oriole, says his Greyhounds won the MIAA A Conference Championship this season playing their best down the stretch, going 4-0 in the post-season double-elimination tournament because of the “3-headed Monster.”
You say whattttt?
The 3-headed Monster is the Gilman coaching staff of head coach Sheets, pitching coach Russell Wrenn and hitting/infield coach Mark Lemon. Sheets was pleased to be named the 2021 VSN Coach of the Year, but was quick to credit his two assistants for the Greyhounds’ success. The ex-8-year major leaguer from Staunton, Va said the way the coaching trio works together is exceptional and the unity rubs off on the players.
That’s not to say that Sheets is claiming it was the staff that won the coveted title of the conference that many consider the best high school league in Maryland. He is not giving all the credit to the coaches, rather he credits the players mainly. He has been around the game long enough to know that good players make good coaches who have to organize, unite and keep the discipline.
Players know when they are or not being coached well and the right way.
“I think we have the best coaching staff in high school baseball,” said ace right-hander, Peter Heubeck, the 2021 VSN Pitcher of the Year, who was 8-2 for a team that was 17-8 overall. “Coach Sheets knows the game better than anyone. He’s got a way with him to make everybody want to play really hard.
“It’s not easy to do that. The way they (the 3 coaches) work well together creates discipline in baseball and shows the team how working together can enable a team to work together toward a common goal.”
“I learned a lot along the way playing for Earl (Weaver) with the Orioles and later with Sparky (Anderson) when he managed the Tigers (Detroit),” stated Sheets.
Those are two of the greatest managers and baseball minds to ever run a baseball team.
After losing in the A Conference finals to Archbishop Curley in 2018 and Calvert Hall in 2019 and not playing in 2020 due to the Covid-19 restrictions, the Greyhounds were excited, to say the least, coming into 2021. Some 11 returning seniors focused on having one more shot at the big trophy and the younger players rallied around the older guys to make it happen.
“What had happened previously carried over to this year and they desperately wanted to go out on top,” said Coach Sheets. “We stayed with our strengths, the bunt, hit-and-run and the other basics. We played together as a team.
“Our program is not for everybody. Too many young kids want to just hit home runs. Baseball is more than that. I tell the kids that what you do in the summertime is different than what you do here. The name (Gilman) on the front of your uniform is who you are.”
Sheets felt that after their 8th loss, by 15-4 at Caravel Academy of Delaware, they had reached the crossroads of their season at 11-8 overall. The coaches knew it, the players knew it and together they made up their minds, they had to win all their games the rest of the way. And they did.
“We didn’t want to just get there (to the final a third straight time) again,” said Heubeck. “We wanted to get there and win this time. We talked a little bit about it and knew we had to bear down.”
Defeating Loyola, 8-4 and Curley, 6-0, the Hounds finished the regular season with an important pair of victories going into the post season tournament. No doubt, they were ready for the big challenge, knocking off Loyola, 8-2, followed by a 3-0 win over Mount St. Joseph. The stage was set for a really big game – the one that would put them back in the finals again.
John Carroll, a Patriots team that had been playing well in the tourney, was the opponent. Faced with a big decision – go with the ace in Heubeck, knowing that the latter would not likely pitch the final if they won or hold the big shooter.
Sheets made the right decision and handed the ball to Heubeck, who more than rose to the occasion by firing a three-hitter with a career high 15 strikeouts to nip John Carroll, 3-2. Heubeck called the win “really special,” because his final high school start came at Gilman and in his words “was the best game of his career.”
Heubeck was presented with one last thrill to his four-year varsity career when coach Sheets sent him out to pitch the last inning of the championship game, the 6-2 triumph over Archbishop Spalding.
Sheets said “the last six games of the season were huge,” to the final result.
The “3-headed Monster” was pretty happy.
Coach Sheets had his second MIAA A Conference title, the other in 2010, his first season at Gilman when his son Gavin Sheets played along with Ryan Ripken, Cal, Jr.’s son. Putting the icing on his baseball this 2021 year, Gavin Sheets was recently called up to the big leagues with the Chicago White Sox as a first baseman/outfielder and Ripken is playing in the Orioles’ system.
Pitching coach Wrenn is a former Greyhound and University of Delaware player who was a practicing attorney in Atlanta before coming back home to Gilman. His dad is Patterson High school baseball/football legend, Roger Wrenn, so coaching is obviously in his blood.
Heubeck said that the pitchers “really respect coach Wrenn.”
Lemon is a former UMBC Retriever player and has been working with Sheets and Wrenn for nearly five years and, like the other two, performs his role as hitting and infield coach very well.
They’ve got quite a trio at Gilman School and now it’s a Championship threesome.
Severna Park’s Jackson Merrill drafted in the first round by the San Diego Padres
July 12, 2021
Calvert Hall’s Jose Torres and Gilman’s Peter Heubeck get 3rd round calls
July 12, 2021
In “Calvert Hall”
Kings of the baseball jungle
March 21, 2019
In “Anne Arundel Baseball News”
2021 VSN BASEBALL PLAYERS & COACH OF THE YEAR
Posted by Pat O’Malley | Jul 9, 2021 | Feature, Gilman, Gilman Baseball, Gilman Feature, Severna Park Baseball, Severna Park Feature, Severna Park HS, VSN Baseball, VSN Baseball Feature
June 6, 1978: Drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the 2nd round of the 1978 amateur draft (29th).
Baltimore Orioles drafted Ripken in the second round of the 1978 Major League Baseball draft 48th overall.
With the Major League Baseball Draft upon us, I thought I would create a sort of Major League Draft cheat sheet, so those who follow can learn the history of the draft, how it’s currently set up and perhaps offer answers to the most asked question, “what do scouts look for?”
The Major League Baseball Draft
The year 1965 marked the beginning of the MLB First-Year Player Draft and for many years since, amateur players and their parents have waited in anticipation of the big day (or in recent years, the big three days). Under the current collective bargaining agreement, the draft lasts 40 rounds, plus compensatory picks.
Who Evaluates The Players?
Each Major League organization is equipped with multiple full-time scouts which include area scouts (and their part-time helpers called “bird dogs”), national cross-checkers and scouting directors. They all work together in collecting names, going out and evaluating players in games and showcases, writing reports on those players and begin to compile information on a white board they will use in the Draft Room come draft day.
Professional scouts are everywhere. Their mission is the find the next “great one,” and they go to great lengths to unearth the next MLB superstar. But for every “can’t miss stars” like Dave Winfield, Ken Griffey, Jr, Tony Gwynn and Mike Trout, there are many others who have been drafted and reach the Major Leagues without much fanfare. It’s this kind of hard work behind the scenes each and every year, that goes relatively unnoticed by the casual fan, but undoubtedly shapes the future of Major League Baseball.
What Are the 5 Tools That Scouts Evaluate?
Speed – how you run and how much range you have.
Arm strength – self-explanatory!
Fielding – what’s your fielding ability and your actions. How good is your footwork?
Hit – can you hit for average? Your overall hitting ability.
Hit for Power – hardest thing for scouts to find in baseball. It’s a coveted skill set valued by all 30 teams.
Here is the kicker. In today’s game the most asked question is, “Is there a 5-tool player?” In my opinion the answer is NO. There are a few that comes close, possessing 3-4 tools. But to be exceptional across the board and possess all 5 tools, has hardly ever been seen. There are 2 players in my lifetime that might have displayed all 5 tools – Bo Jackson and Josh Hamilton. And it’s fascinating that neither of them will ever be in the Hall of Fame – for different reasons.
Overall, scouts are looking for athletes. They want to evaluate a player who understands how to play the game (which is rare in today’s day game because of showcase baseball and private cage lessons). They can tell the player who has specialized in baseball with private lessons since age 6. They want guys who have experience playing other sports, being coached by different coaches, and have played in different arenas with different competitive experiences.
If you want to learn how your tools can get you drafted, Chicago Cubs National Crosschecker Tim Adkins, laid this out beautifully for us on KWB Radio. You can listen to his episode here.
KWB Radio logo
What’s the 20-80 Grading Scale Scouts Use To Evaluate?
Scouts use a grading scale using the numbers 20-80 (or 2-8 for some organizations) to evaluate players. 20 is the lowest grade that a player can get, with 80 being the highest. Most prospects will hover around the 50 mark, which indicates the average grade of tools possessed by a current MLB player.
So how do they come up an overall number for a player? They simply grade all tools out on the 20-80 scale, rate them, then divide them out based on the number (5), thus giving you the overall number. Once you get the number, it gives you the parameters of where that player is projected.
What scouts are also trying to project is how can the player meet his upside down the road? Does that tool the scout is putting on him project out a few years from now and develop to play in the big leagues? Physical limitations are different for each player. Everyone’s ceilings are different. Scouts will ask themselves – when a player reaches his ceiling how can he be consistent? Does he have what it takes to be consistent?
This brings up the question, does average play in the big leagues? If you ask the scouts it’s a resounding YES. Most of the prospects they are evaluating for the draft have present-average tools. We sat down with New York Mets area scout Jim Thompson for Episode 18 on KWB Radio, to talk about how average plays and what he looks for when evaluating a player. You can listen to our conversation here.
Are you wondering if selling average to a scouting director is hard?
It’s actually not hard at all.
In fact, after the first couple of rounds, the argument in the “war room” is who do you think has the best chance to get to the big leagues and perform at that level being consistently average?
What’s the Best Venue To Evaluate a Player?
If you ask the scouts, they want to see a player compete in a meaningful game. In 2013 when I was the hitting coach for the USA Baseball 18U National Team, we played in the IBAF World Cup in Taichung, Taiwan and most, if not all, of the MLB teams were represented by at least one scout, scouting director or front office member. Why? Because for all of the USA players, except one returning member, this was the first time they would play in a meaningful game. The scouts wanted to see if the skills they saw all summer at the showcase events would transfer into high stakes, highly intensive and meaningful games when the players were playing for a Gold Medal.
I understand not everyone is going to have the opportunity to play for USA Baseball, so whenever a scout can see a player play in a high school, college, summer ball or American Legion game, scouts will take the opportunity to evaluate a player in a game setting, no matter where it is.
What Scouts Look For In Position Players
OUTFIELD – If you’re a corner OF, you don’t need to be plus defender, but you also don’t want to be known as below average. With that being said, your bat will have to play better than average. You need to hit. And as one scout puts it, “corner outfielder’s need to display power, power, power.” In CF, they are looking for plus defense and range and they want to see you hit, and if you have any power.
CORNER INFIELD – Scouts are looking for a power/hit combo at the corners. At 3B you need to be able to play above average defense, as well as showcase the power/hit tool. At 1B, you need to be adequate on defense, but most importantly show that you’re an offensive player first and foremost.
MIDDLE INFIELD – At shortstop, scouts are looking for defense (range, footwork, arm strength), see if you can hit, hit for power. At second base, they are looking to see your hit tool, do you have any power, and how does your defense play.
CATCHER – You need the ability to call the game yourself, handle the pitching staff and control running game. Your bat doesn’t need to be as important when evaluating.
What Does a Scout Look For In a Hitter?
The swing has to be simple. Not a lot of extra stuff in swing. Some scouts will differ on what’s more important – bat speed over strength, but they all look for whether a hitter has control of his barrel. They want to see looseness in swing. Being calm in the box = confidence in their eyes. They want to see how it comes off the bat.
Consistency is huge – strikeout to BB ratio is huge – can you square up a ball and do you know the strike zone and have an approach?
Can you produce extra base hits (doubles and RBI’s pay bills at the MLB level)?
Power comes at a premium – it’s the standout tool for hitters.
There are some things that scare scouts when evaluating hitters. A big one is swing and miss. Another is, if you’re fouling balls off all the time, what makes a scout think you’re going to be better than that in pro ball?
What Does a Scout Look For In a Pitcher?
What does his arm action and delivery look like? Can he repeat his mechanics? What kind of athlete is he? They will dig into the background of a pitcher to find things like: does he have a personal pitching coach; does he throw all year long; what makes him tick on the mound? What kind of bullpen routine does he have? Is he a “stuff” guys who pound the strike zone?
They are also evaluating whether a pitching prospect will be a starter or have to go to the bullpen in professional baseball, by observing the ease of how the mechanics work because that will help you stay in starting rotation at the next level. The pitchers who have good feel of a changeup stand out because that helps them move through a minor league system quicker.
A pitcher does not necessarily have to have a swing and miss pitch, to be drafted. If he has average pitches, command is superior in order for the average stuff to play.
And last but not least, what kind of competitor is he?
What Happens During an In-Home Visit?
The purpose of an in-home visit is for the scouts to get to know the player and his family better. They answer any questions that the family has about the process, about the team or anything else that comes up in conversation. If you don’t get an in-home visit from a scout, it doesn’t mean you will not have a chance to get drafted; it just means you probably will have to wait a few rounds (or days) until you get your name called. These visits are typically reserved for the prospects projected to go in the top few rounds.
Will A Player Be Seen If He’s Not On A Popular Travel Team?
YES. With technology today, if you’re a prospect and you’re good enough, scouts will find you.
How Do I Get My Name Submitted For the Draft?
In order to be eligible to be drafted, your name has to be submitted to the Major League Baseball Scouting Bureau by a scout from an MLB organization. Once your name has been submitted, you will be assigned an identification number. You are not eligible to be drafted unless you are in the system and have been issued an ID number by Major League Baseball.
Bottom line, scouts are looking for a player who likes to work. He needs to know the game, not just be a showcase player. There is baseball IQ that is lacking among young players today, and it definitely shows up when the games start.
Scouts will tell you that tools get you drafted, but becoming a baseball player will get you to the big leagues.
If you’re a prospect, don’t forget the most important, but hardest part of all of this – enjoy the process!
ORDER MY NEW eBOOK “FINDING CLARITY”
“You won’t find a one-size-fits-all philosophy in Finding Clarity. Instead, players from all levels will begin to find their individual purpose, their WHY and ultimately themselves.”
Adam Haseley (Philadelphia Phillies)
For more than a decade, Kevin Wilson has been one of the most respected hitting coaches in the game. He works behind the scenes as a private hitting consultant to some of the best hitters in Major League Baseball. In 2013, Kevin was the hitting coach for the USA Baseball 18U National Team. Team USA beat Japan for the Gold medal at the IBAF World Cup in Taichung, Taiwan.
He is the author of the Amazon #1 Best Sellers The #GoodBatting Book and Finding Clarity: A Mindful Look Into the Art of Hitting and co-hosts a popular podcast, KWB Radio, that showcases unique conversations with the pros. If you want Kevin to speak at your next event or if you want take advantage of his popular 2-day KWB Experience for players and coaches, contact Kevin today!
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Rating The Physical Tools
Of A Potential Major League Player
Major League Baseball’s scout rating system explained
Here’s one of the best explanations of the professional baseball’s scout rating systems that I have found. Some organizations use the 20/80 scale others use 2 to 8. They are the same thing.
A 2 or 20 is the low end of the scale and 8 or 80 is the high end.
Scouts typically use two numbers when grading, such as 4/6 or 3/5. The first number is the player’s current rating on the 2 to 8 scale the second is his “projected” future professional baseball rating. Of course those numbers are based on the individual scout’s opinion.
When only one number is given, such as a 7, it is usually (almost always) that scout’s projection opinion of that player’s professional baseball potential.
This is a tool that is often overlooked by ball players today and one of the most lacking tools at the major league level. With 10 teams playing on artificial surfaces, making fielders play their position deeper, a strong arm is even more necessary today than in the past. The player with a strong arm will have less teams take a chance by running against him thus preventing runs from scoring. Thus a team with a weak throwing outfield or catcher will have more opportunities taken against them leading to more throwing errors and more runs given up.
When scouts are evaluating a players arm strength it is usually during pre-game infield-outfield practice. A scout will get to see several throws by the outfielders to second, third, and home plate. If a player has a good arm, chances are he will show it here, particularly on throws to home plate. Scouts are looking for four things from outfielders: a strong overhand throw, a straight-line trajectory, good carry, and good life on the turf when the ball finally hits the ground.
A strong arm is also necessary for infielders particularly the shortstop and third baseman. Scouts will pay the most attention to throws made from the outfield grass from deep short. If a player has a strong arm, it will show here. Look for a straight-line trajectory, strong hissing noise, and a sharp smack in the first baseman glove.
Foot speed is the only common denominator of offense and defense. This is one tool that does not go into slumps. A fast runner is of greater priority for clubs that play on artificial turf because they are playing in a bigger park and the ball travels faster than on grass. A fast outfielder may be able to catch up to two more balls a game thus saving his ball club an average of one run a game. The same player can steal bases thus putting ore pressure on the defense and making the pitchers throw more fastballs.
A players running speed is usually timed in two ways; 60 yard dash and from home to first. The average major league time is 6.9 for the 60 yard dash, from home to first 4.3 seconds for right handed hitters and 4.2 seconds for left handed hitters. The clock start on times from home to first on the crack of the bat to when the foot hits first base. A fast runner at the major league level can run home to first in 4.0 seconds or below. The ability to run, will force fielders to rush their throws and make more throwing errors. A team without speed will often have to hold their runners at third base thus scoring less runs.
60 Yard Dash:
8: 6.4 seconds
7: 6.5-6.6 seconds
6: 6.7-6.8 seconds
5: 6.9-7.0 seconds
4: 7.1-7.2 seconds
3: 7.3-7.4 seconds
2: 7.5 seconds +
Home To First (Right Side):
8: 4.0 seconds
7: 4.1 seconds
6: 4.2 seconds
5: 4.3 seconds
4: 4.4 seconds
3: 4.5 seconds
2: 4.6 seconds
Home To First (Left Side):
8: 3.9 seconds
7: 4.0 seconds
6: 4.1 seconds
5: 4.2 seconds
4: 4.3 seconds
3: 4.4 seconds
2: 4.5 seconds
This is the one tool that has the greatest chance of improvement. While you can not develop great foot speed or a great arm, fielding has the greatest chances of improvement with contest practice. When judging fielding scouts are looking for a number of traits:
(Quick Feet) the ability to move quickly laterally and forward and back.
(Range) how much ground does he cover?
(Soft Hands) the ability to catch the ball smoothly in the center the glove.
(Quick Hands) the ability to field bad hops.
This is the most difficult tool to scout because you are judging a hitter on how they will hit do at the major league level, by watching them hit against amateur pitching. There are a lot of amateur hitters that will look great against amateur pitching and then fall flat on their face once they enter professional baseball. A hitter should have these lists of skills:
(Bat Speed) the ability to swing the bat quickly
The ability to consistently hit the ball hard.
Knowledge of the strike zone
The ability to turn on a major league fastball.
The ability to hit breaking pitches.
The ability to hit to all fields.
The ability to make adjustments at the plate when fooled.
Hitting With Power
Hitting the ball for power is one of the more desirable traits for any hitter, unfortunately it is often the most poorly projected tool at the major league level. In order to hit for power, a hitter needs outstanding batspeed. Batspeed is what makes the ball travel and all outstanding hitters have it. A hitter with major league power will regularly hit the ball over the fence in batting practice and should be able to drive the ball over 400 feet.
A lot of care should be taken when judging amateur hitters swinging aluminum bats. The aluminum bat has a greater hitting surface, and because they are lighter they can be swung with much greater bat speed, driving the ball 18% farther than with wooden bats. A 400 foot drive with a wood bat will travel 470 feet with aluminum. So many hitters are home run hitters swinging aluminum become warning track hitters with a wood bat. It is very important for hitters to get used to a wooden bat before signing into professional baseball. Most hitters find they have a tough time getting used to not driving the ball they way they used to in college or high school baseball.
What Scouts Look For – In Pitchers
When scouting a pitcher the first quality a scout will look for is a strong arm. This is a God-given talent that can only be improved to a certain degree. One game under a radar gun will tell if the pitcher has the arm strength to be a major league prospect.
There are two basic models of radar guns used to clock the speed of fastballs. The Jugs Speed Gun (Fast Gun) will pick up the speed of the fastball after it has traveled 3.5 feet and the Ra-Gun (Slow Gun) will pick up the speed after the ball has traveled 40-50 feet. A fastball will lose 8 mph from the time it leaves the pitchers hand to the time it crosses home plate. The JUGS speed Gun is usually 3-4mph faster than the Ra-Gun.
The average major league fastball is 88-89 mph on a JUGS Speed Gun and 84-85 mph on the Ra-Gun. Scouts will rarely if ever sign a pitcher who does not throw at least 85 mph on the JUGS Speed Gun.
CHECKLIST FOR GRADING PITCHERS
Fastball- The first thing a scout looks for is a fastball with good velocity and movement. A fastball should sink, rise, slide or tail. A major league fastball is in the high 80’s.
Curveball- When grading a curveball, scouts look for a fast tight rotation on the ball. A good curveball will break both laterally and downward about two feet. A good curve ball gives the illusion of falling off the table with its sharp downward breaking motion as it approaches home plate.
Slider- A good slider can be a tremendous compliment to a good fastball. A good slider will have a tight lateral spin, like a bullet. A slider will break about 6-18 inches as it approaches home plate. It should look like a fastball until it breaks across the plate.
Change Up- A good change up can be a tremendous asset to any pitcher by making fastball seem that much quicker to the hitter. A good change-up should look identical to the hitter only it travels 15-20 mph slower than the fastball. It will make the hitter way out in front of the pitch.
Delivery- A pitchers delivery should be as smooth as possible. It should look effort-less with no mechanical problems like: throwing across the body, landing on a stiff front leg, overstriding, landing on the heel or his arm lagging behind his body. Any mechanical problems left uncorrected can lead to control and arm problems.
Control- The ability to throw strikes on a consistent basis is vital for any pitcher to have success at the major league level. If the pitcher has less than overpowering stuff his control becomes even more important to his success. A good pitcher will be able to throw 70% of their pitches for strikes and can throw breaking pitches for strikes when behind in the count.
8: 98 mph +
7: 93-97 mph
6: 90-92 mph
5: 88-89 mph
4: 85-87 mph
3: 83-84 mph
2: 82 mph –
What Scouts Look For In Catchers
A good catcher is vital to the success of a championship team. The catcher will provide leadership on the field and work with the pitcher when setting up the hitters and calling the game. The catcher must be durable and is responsible for the teams defense. A catcher needs soft hands , quick feet and the ability to block pitches in the dirt. A good catcher can catch and throw to second base under 2.0 seconds, some catchers can break 1.8 seconds.
Catchers Release Times to Second Base:
8: 1.7 seconds – below
7: 1.7-1.8 seconds
6: 1.8-1.9 seconds
5: 1.9-2.0 seconds
4: 2.0-2.1 seconds
3: 2.1-2.2 seconds
2: 2.2-2.3 seconds
What Scouts Look For In Infielders
A good infield is worth it wait in gold to a successful team. A strong defense will take the opposition out of more rallies and save wear and tear on the pitching staff.
Teams are looking for these qualities in their infielders.
Arm Strength: A strong arm is especially necessary from the shortstop who will often be making throws up to 150 feet flat-footed on the edge of the outfield grass. The third baseman also needs a strong arm when called upon to make throws up to 120 feet from along the foul line. Look to see if the infielders throws are straight and do not die as they approach the first baseman.
Range: Look for infielders with good body control. They need first-step quickness able to field the ball to their left, right, over their head and able to charge the ball and come up throwing. Also they need soft hands, able to move their hands quickly and smoothly to bad hops and sharply hit line drives
What Scouts Look For In Outfielders
A good outfielder is vital to the make up for a successful team. Although most outfielders are in the lineup for their bats, their defensive skills can not be overlooked. Scouts are looking for these basic skills from outfielders
Arm Strength: A strong arm is vital for the defensive make up of the outfield. A strong arm will cut down baserunners trying to score and prevent runners from taking extra bases. When evaluating a players arm strength, it is important to be at the game in time to see infield-outfield practice. If the player has a strong arm, chances are he will show it here. Teams will often decide whether to run on a team by the strength of the arms demonstrated before the game. You should look for four things from outfielders: a strong overhand throw, a straight-line trajectory, good carry, and good life off the turf when the ball finally hits the grounds. A strong arm is vital for right field because he will often be called on to make throws to third base and home plate up to 275 feet.
Range: A good outfielder will be able to cover a lot of ground in the outfield. The center fielder has the most territory to cover, so obviously getting a good jump on the ball and having good speed is vital for a good outfielder. The outfielder must be able to field ground and fly balls and come up throwing. Outfielders need to be able judge how hard a ball is hit and be able to field fly balls hit over his center fielder requires the most speed and the right fielder the strongest arm. A good center fielder can run the 60 yard dash in under 6.6 seconds.
Left and right fielders should run the 60 yard dash under 6.8 seconds.
What Scouts Look For In Hitters
This is the hardest all tools to predict whether a player will hit major league pitching because you often do not know whether they will hit at the major league level until they get there.
The quality the most necessary to become a major league hitter is a smooth quick level swing. A player with a quick bat can wait on the pitches longer therefore have a better chance of hitting the ball harder. Another important quality to look for is a good knowledge of the strike zone. A player will not become a good hitter by swinging at pitches outside the strike zone. The more patient the hitter is, the more dangerous they become.
When watching a hitter play close attention to his hands when he strides. If a player drops or raises his hands when the pitch is being delivered, he increases his chances of not hitting the ball hard. The hands should go back, the less unnecessary movement, the better. The harder the pitcher is throwing, the more mechanically correct the hitter needs to be to hit. A hitter that lunges, doesn’t keep his hands back, hitches or has a pronounced uppercut will not hit at a consistent level.
When evaluating hitters focus on tools, not statistics. You should scout tools not performance. Statistic are good for evaluating weaknesses. A hitter with a high strikeout and low walk total is swinging at too many bad pitches, unless corrected will never hit at a constant level.
A hitter should be able to turn on a good fastball on the inside part of the plate. If he can’t, he has little chance of becoming a good hitter, because pitchers must throw inside to be successful at the major league level. A hitter must be able to hit breaking pitches or he will not last at the major league or minor league level. Once word gets out about a hitters can1t hit the breaking pitches, he will see nothing else until he learns to hit it.
The player’s makeup is vital to his success in professional baseball. Often the player with the greatest desire will develop into a better ball player than the one with better physical tools. Most of the players when they sent to the minor leagues, are used to being the star on their team and often have never been in a slump or have lost a game before. This for many players is difficult to accept. For the first time in their lives, they are knocked out in the first inning or go 0 for 4. If a player can overcome this, they have a better chance of reaching their goal of playing in the major leagues.
One of the most important factors in a player’s makeup is whether they can adjust to being away from home. Most high school players have never been away from home for any length of time and many are not prepared mentally to handle the long bus rides, bad lights, and poor playing conditions. For many college players, the minors is a step down from playing on good fields, good lighting, flying, and large attendance.
The college player often comes into the minor leagues more mature because he has been away from home, but a player with a college degree may quit after two years if he does not feel he is being promoted quick enough. It is very difficult for players to see their teammates being promoted while they are staying put. A player who works hard and puts up good numbers in the minor leagues will be noticed by the organization.
PLAYER CHECKLIST — (what to look for in a player)
CATCHERS: Arm strength, agility and quickness, soft hands, aggressiveness plus leadership.
INFIELDERS: Arm Strength, speed, instincts, aggressiveness, soft hands, hitting ability (especially from the corners).
HITTERS: Strength, bat speed, plane of swing, absence of fear, aggressiveness, top-hand extension, and follow-though.
PITCHERS: Arm strength, velocity, movement, and a curveball with tight rotation, free arm action and proper delivery, with complete extension on the follow-though (basically a live, quick arm, aggressiveness, and the ability to concentrate.
MAKEUP: Strong desire to succeed, coachability, maturity, temperament, improvement, drive, hunger, consistency, knowledge of the game, competitiveness, (how badly does the player want to reach the major leagues and how well he will work at.)
PHYSICAL CHANGES: Has he reached his full height yet? Can he gain or lose weight? Will he become faster or slower? Has he filled out yet? Does he a have history of being hurt? How much has his skills improved from last year.
Does the player have the physical tools plus the strong make up to play in the major leagues. Only about 10% of the players who sign a minor league contract will.
Former Calvert Hall infielder Jose Torres and Gilman pitcher Peter Heubeck taken in third round of 2021 MLB draft
Two former Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference baseball standouts — Calvert Hall 2019 graduate Jose Torres and recent Gilman grad Peter Heubeck — were third-round selections in the Major League Baseball amateur draft on Monday.
Torres, who was The Sun’s 2019 All-Metro Player of the Year and played shortstop at North Carolina State, was taken by the Cincinnati Reds with the 89th overall pick. Heubeck, a 6-foot-3 pitcher who is a Wake Forest commit, was selected by the defending World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers with the 101st pick.
Heubeck, who turns 19 on July 22, led the Greyhounds to their first league championship title since 2010 in May. He added to his special year when he got a call from the Dodgers on Monday afternoon.
Recent Gilman grad Peter Heubeck, pitching against John Carroll in the MIAA A Conference tournament at Gilman on May 20, was taken by the Los Angeles Dodgers with the 101st overall pick in the MLB draft on Monday. (Kim Hairston/The Baltimore Sun)
“That moment was unreal and I still haven’t processed it fully, but it’s the best feeling ever. It was awesome,” he said.
A hard-throwing right-hander who touches the mid-90s with his fastball and also throws a curveball and change-up, Heubeck switched from catcher to pitcher in his freshman season in 2018 and was a varsity standout throughout his career.
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MLB Draft 2021: Dodgers select RHP Peter Heubeck in the 3rd round
With their second pick in the 2021 MLB Draft, the Dodgers selected right-handed pitcher Peter Heubeck from Gilman High School in Baltimore. He’s currently committed to Wake Forest.
Dodgers selected him with the 101st pick in the third round. This was their second selection in the MLB Draft, as they lost their second round pick with the signing of free-agent pitcher Trevor Bauer.
He’s ranked as the No. 105 overall prospect by Baseball America
slender, 6-foot-3, 170-pound righthander, Heubeck has flashed a loud three-pitch mix and has only improved his game since flashing stuff with inconsistent control last summer. Heubeck has a loose and fast arm and has been up into the mid 90s at his best, though he more typically sits in the 90-93 mph range. His best secondary pitch is a hard, downer curveball in the mid 70s with 12-to-6 shape and impressive depth. He also throws a low-80s changeup that was seen as a distant third pitch last summer but scouts this spring…
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