Profiling Scale 101

The task that professional baseball scouts face each day of their lives is a tough one - find players who will one day excel at the major league level. While the task at hand is never easy, the profiling system that scouts have put in place in recent years has allowed them to more effeciently find potential all-stars across the globe.

Since the dawn of baseball, the science of scouting and profiling for prospective stars of the future has been a riddle. The chances of even a top rated prospect making the grade in the big leagues is as low as your chances of surviving a gunfight with William H. Bonny. You're more likely to hit a Randy Johnson fastball with your eyes shut then to properly profile a minor league baseball player as a potential Major League Baseball All-Star.

The years passed by with scouts using many different systems to grade players. There was a time when most clubs had a different formula for college players than they had for high school players as they prepared for the Amateur Drafts. Nowadays the formula is the same but the scouts themselves look for different things. Scouts still seek the power-hitting third-sacker with a cannon arm, the speedy second baseman with a solid stick that comes with a golden glove and solid footwork, and the rare catcher that can hit as while disecting a pitching staff and staving off base stealers. These players have been the targets of baseball scouts for decades. The grading scale they use to profile such players, however, is just a baby.

This time of year we all sit back and wait for all of those prospect lists to come out to critique our favorite team's best players in order to gauge the future. All this while we all know that the only list that really counts is the one that sits on the desk of the Player Development and Scouting Personnel of each Major League team, a list none of us will likely ever see. If we were so lucky to get a peak, we might get a glance at what the profiling scale really looks like as well as which players teams have rated highest. The latter we may never know. The scale isn't a mystery.

Professional scouts adopted a new profiling system that was designed to mesh the languages of the scouting and player development departments. The scouts still look for that Eric Chavez clone at the hot corner and the next Omar Vizquel at shortstop, while the player development personnel still thrive to bring out the attributes of each prospect to try and produce the next Chavez or Vizquel. The part that has changed is the scale itself.

Profiling a player these days means grading a player in all aspects of the game, depending on whether he is a hitter or pitcher. The scale ranges from 20, a rating of poor, to 80, a rating of outstanding. The scale makes stops every ten points with 30 being a rating of well-below-average, 40 a below-average rating, and 50 a rating of Major League Average. 60 is an above-average rating, and 70 is a rating of well-above-average. This profiling system is known as the "Yankee Profile" as the founders of the system includes then New York Yankee crosschecker Bill Livesey, who is a special assistant to Toronto Blue Jays G.M. J.P. Riccardi, and San Francisco Giants G.M. Brian Sabean.

Profiling, as opposed to simple grading, is used as a way to prioritize a player's tools by position. A player's priority tools are looked at much more closely than a player's secondary tools so a player's severe strengths are weighted properly against his severe weaknesses. This device is used so a player such as Manny Ramirez isn't penalized too much for being a below average runner and defender. Ramirez might rate an 80 in the power and hitting for average areas but somewhere between 20 and 40 in defense and speed. Prioritizing allows for such a player to remain a top graded player.

Scouts look for a two-tool combination that totals at least 120, and a three-tool total of at least 170. Using Ramirez as the example, the two-tool grade would be 160, while his three-tool total would be in the 180 -190 range.

A five-tool player isn't always among the best players and this profiling system shows how that is. None of us believe that Ray Durham has more of an impact than Sammy Sosa, do we? Durham grades about average or better in all five categories (speed, glove, arm, power, average) while Sosa grades below average in two areas. The profiling systems, whichever one is used, are ways for clubs to determine a player's potential impact, thus the five separate areas of grading.

As you read the prospect lists at several national publications you usually won't see much mention of such profiling scales and system's. The lists are usually very simplistic and easy to read. One thing you will find at InsidethePark.com is the usage of the "Yankee Profile" to achieve the most accurate depiction of the player's talents. It's the only time I will personally refer to anything "Yankee" in a positive light.

Jason resides in Tacoma, Wash., where his father is his best friend and his nephew continues to develop the fastball-splitter combo that he hopes to have mastered by age 2. Jason enjoys the failures of the New York Yankees and despises the slider speed bat. Feedback is always welcome at DiamondGenius@hotmail.com.

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