Tools & Intangibles, Part 1 (Position Players)

Justin Goetz
PBR Georgia Asst Scouting Director

There are nearly endless attributes needed to become a complete baseball player. Some are easier to see and evaluate, usually tools. Others are more difficult, typically intangibles. Each player has a trio of separators, meaning skills that put them a level above other players with the same talent. The key of baseball is scoring runs & saving runs, every skill discussed here has an impact on at least one of the two. 

When you go to a baseball game, the five tools (Hit for Average, Raw Power, Run, Field, Throw) are the easiest to notice. Some parts of evaluating a player like projection, pitch recognition, baseball IQ, and aptitude are tougher to determine. The 5 tools are more physical in nature having many sub sets, and the intangibles are a lengthy list of a players “Mental Makeup”. 

In the 2022 PBR Future Games, the athletes on Team Georgia are loaded with so many of these characteristics, each player having their own special traits. These rankings are based on the MLB scouting scale, ranging from Average to Excellent (avg, solid avg, above avg, good/plus, ++ , and excellent). Below I will explain each of the most important 11 tools & intangibles (with separators for each player), and list the Top 5 players on our club that most exemplify these skills. 

Hit for Average is the toughest tool to project on, because it will always be the most difficult facet of the game to consistently produce in. Pure hitters need a slew of intangibles that work as one such as - solid approach, pitch recognition & discipline, bat speed, timing, hand eye coordination, ability to decelerate/accelerate, strong hands, swing mechanics, etc. This tool will only be evaluated on future potential, as no HS hitter could hit consistently at the games highest level currently.

1. Jack Myers, SS - A/AVG. Separators : Pitch Recognition, Swing Mech, Hand-Eye
2. Jay Abernathy, SS - A/AVG. Separators : Body Ctrl, Bat Speed, Hand-Eye
3. Owen Anchors, OF/1B - Solid Avg. Separators : Plate Discipline, Approach, Bat Speed
4. Cooper Johnson, 1B - Solid Avg. Separators : Approach, Swing Mech, Effortlessness
5. Dominic Stephenson, C - Solid Avg. Separators : Bat Speed, Swing Mech, Body Ctrl

Raw Power is how far a player can hit the ball in BP. But, raw power isn’t usable in game without some kind of hitting ability. This tool can be a blend of bat speed, physical strength, heavy hands, bat to ball skills, swing path, lower half mechanics/explosiveness, upper half rotation. All these skills & intangibles help a player reach power production, which is the ability to consistently produce raw power in game. This tool is strictly Raw Power in BP and will be evaluated on current and future potential. 

1. Owen Anchors, OF/1B - A/AVG to ++. Separators : Projection, Lofty Swing Path, Bat Speed
2. Khaleel Pratt, OF - A/AVG to ++. Separators : Projection, Leverage, Lower Half Mech
3a. KJ Moon, 3B - A/AVG to ++. Separators : Strength, Lofty Swing Path, Intent
3b. Cade Brown, 3B - AVG to +. Separators : Heavy Hands, Bat Speed, Intent
4. Eli Stephens, C - A/AVG to +. Separators : Swing Mech & Path, Strength, Heavy Hands
5a. Marquis Mitchell, OF - Avg to +. Separators : Bat Speed, Intent, Explosiveness
5b. Ean Marria, 3B - Avg to +. Separators : Heavy Hands, Strength, Intent

Only 3 of the 5 tools make an impact every day no matter what - Running Speed is in that category, and it’s one of the simplest skills to evaluate. Once a player is an Upperclassman in High School, you know at the very least wether they’re good, average, or below average runners. Any runner can improve their speed to another level, but a below average runner at age 16-18 is never going to develop blazing speed. With the exception of elite athletes, most players get slower as they grow older. 3 time World Series Champ & Georgia Native Terrance Gore has 67 AB’s in 7 MLB seasons, but 40 stolen bases. He’s been a pinch runner most of his career! This tool will be evaluated on current and future potential.

1. Marquis Mitchell, OF - ++/Excellent. Separators : Top Speed, Running Form, Effortlessness
1. Ajay Jones, OF - ++/Excellent. Separators : Acceleration, Instincts, Base Running
1. Jay Abernathy, SS - ++/Excellent. Separators : Acceleration, Quickness, Aggressiveness,
2. Ethan Finch, C - A/AVG to +. Separators : Ground Force, Strength, Explosiveness
3. Cade Brown, 3B - A/AVG to +. Separators : Ground Force, Strength, Explosivness
4. Craig Kalkbrenner, SS - A/AVG to +. Separators : Fluidity, Acceleration, Effortlessness
5. Dominic Stephenson, C - Avg to +. Separators : Projection, Effortlessness, Top Speed

is another tool that can play every day. No matter if you go 0 for 3 at the plate, a good defender can always save runs for his team to make up for not producing any offensively. At the games premium defensive positions (Catcher, SS, CF) are where defense holds the most value. MLB players such as C Jeff Mathis, SS Nick Ahmed, and CF Billy Hamilton have created long careers due to their defensive prowess, despite below average hitting. This tool will be evaluated on future potential. 

1. Ethan Finch, C - ++. Separators : Athleticism, Arm Strength, Effort.
2. Ajay Jones, OF - ++. Separators : Instincts, Range, Fearlessness.
3. Marquis Mitchell, OF - +. Separators : Long Speed, Range, Instincts.
4. Craig Kalkbrenner, SS - +. Separators : Soft Hands, Exchange, Rhythm.
5. Jay Abernathy, SS - A/AVG. Separators : Footwork, Quick Hands, Exchange.
5b. Khaleel Pratt, OF - A/AVG. Separators : Instincts, Range, Long Strides, Arm

Throw is the 3rd tool of 5 that play every day no matter what. Arm strength & arm accuracy can allow a players defense to play up as a whole, save a pitching staff, save a players career (converting to pitching), and make for one of the most exciting plays in a game. Footwork, Baseball IQ, and Body Control are skills that can aid this tool. This tool will be evaluated on current and future potential.

Khaleel Pratt, OF - Good/++. Separators : Arm Strength, Arm Speed, Projection
2. Ethan Finch, C - Good/++. Separators : Arm Strength, Arm Speed, Twitch
3. KJ Moon, 3B - Good/++. Separators : Arm Strength, Projection, Carry
4. Ean Marria, 3B - A/AVG to +. Separators : Arm Strength, Efficiency, Durability
5. Cooper Johnson, 1B - A/AVG to +. Separators : Projection, Accuracy, All Angles

Pitch Recognition/Plate Discipline
are the most important intangibles a hitter can have, and they go together like peanut butter and jelly. Being able to see the baseball spin out of a pitcher's hand allows the hitter to make an early, correct swing decision and have the time to adjust their body & mind to a certain pitch. It provides the hitter with a confident & prepared mindset, proper timing, tracking ability, tells them whether to decelerate/accelerate per pitch type, and most importantly gives them plate discipline. If you can’t see the spin of a CB early, how will you know it's coming and if it's even a strike? How will you decelerate your swing mechanics to square it up? How will you lay off the pitch out of the strike zone? A hitter who can’t see spin to determine which pitch FB, SL, CB, CH, won’t be able to track/predict the movement on the pitch, and won't consistently hit. When a hitter is undisciplined and can’t lay off secondary pitches out of the zone, they won’t see many fastballs. Good hitters force pitchers to throw them FB’s in the zone. These skills need a solid approach. A plan to hit the ball where its pitched, work toward a certain part of the field, look for certain pitches in certain zones, or work a pitcher into their strengths, etc. Evaluated on current and future potential.

1. Jack Myers, SS - Plus/++. Separators : Vision, Patience, Approach,
2. Owen Anchors, OF/1B - A/AVG to Plus. Separators : Approach, Vision
3. Eli Stephens, C - A/AVG to Plus. Separators : Patience, Approach.
4. Cooper Johnson, 1B - A/AVG to Plus. Separators : Approach, Feel.
5. KJ Moon, 3B - AVG to Plus. Separators : Patience, Feel.
5b. Jay Abernathy, SS - Avg to A/AVG. Separators : Vision, Body Control.

Instincts are an intangible skill that you cannot teach. You either have them or you don’t. A player can make their instincts better by constantly evolving, studying the game, and with elite preparation. But a player with bad instincts will never be able to make it an elite skill. This innate feel for the game allows a player to react naturally and correctly just before a play happens. This feel can benefit in any facet of the game. Making a perfect read of the ball as a hitter makes contact, one handing a pitch below the zone to prevent rollover, stealing a base before the pitcher makes his first move. Intangible evaluated on current only.

1. Ajay Jones, OF - Excellent. Separators : Reaction Time, Athleticism, Fearlessness
2. Ethan Finch, C - Excellent. Separators : Baseball IQ, Athleticism, Aggressiveness
3. Cooper Johnson, 1B - Plus. Separators : Baseball IQ, Feel
4. Marquis Mitchell, OF - Plus. Separators : Reaction Time, Athleticism, Fearlessness
5. Khaleel Pratt, OF - Plus. Separators : Athleticism, Dual Sport.

Aptitude is a natural ability to adjust on the fly. This ability can be improved by repetition and constant studying. It’s not always the case, but usually the best athletes have the best aptitude. A player can hide their weaknesses with pure talent, but eventually a player who doesn’t adjust to higher competition will plateau career wise or decline.

1. Khaleel Pratt, OF - Plus/++. Separators : Athleticism, Work Ethic
2. Marquis Mitchell, OF - Plus/++. Separators : Athleticism, Work Ethic
3. Jack Myers, SS - Plus/++. Separators : Baseball IQ, Feel, Work Ethic
4. Jay Abernathy, SS - A/AVG to Plus. Separators : Athleticism, Competitiveness
5. Owen Anchors, OF/1B - A/AVG to Plus. Separators : Athleticism, Competitiveness

Competitiveness pretty much speaks for itself. A player who is never satisfied and has no fear of failure will always be the best competitor and eventually separate themselves from the pack. One who competes for everything in life will be the toughest to defeat. This is an intangible players need on & off the field, and are one of the biggest keys in mental makeup.

1. Ajay Jones, OF - Excellent.
2. Ethan Finch, C - Excellent.
3. Jay Abernathy, SS - Excellent.
4. Jack Myers, SS - Excellent.
5. Marquis Mitchell, OF - Excellent.

Baseball IQ starts with instincts and develops into a different skill. The best way to have elite IQ on the diamond is to play an endless amount of baseball and study the game relentlessly every day. The constant hunger to know everything about the game leads to the highest level of preparation, and the more you know about the game the more you’ll think 1-2 plays ahead. Players with high baseball IQ are prepared for every possible scenario on each singular play. This intangible will be evaluated on current only, but can improve.

1. Jack Myers, SS - Excellent. Separators : Preparation, Feel, Aptitude
2. Cooper Johnson, 1B - Excellent. Separators : Preparation, Experience, Feel
3. Ajay Jones, OF - ++. Separators : Instincts, Feel
4. KJ Moon, 3B - Plus. Separators : Approach, Preparation
5. Dominic Stephenson, C - Plus. Separators : Aptitude, Feel

Projection is by far the hardest attribute to have, because it is mostly due to age, body type and genetics. Physical projection ends when the player physically matures. However, a player can be more projectable due to many of the intangibles named above. These 5 will be a combination of physical and mental projection.

1. Khaleel Pratt, OF - Excellent. Separators : Height, Frame, Dual Sport Athleticism
2. Dominic Stephenson, C - Excellent. Separators : Age, Athleticism, Build
3. Cooper Johnson, 1B - ++. Separators : Height, Frame, Baseball IQ
4. Marquis Mitchell, OF - Good. Separators : Athleticism, Explosiveness
5. Jay Abernathy, SS - Good. Separators : Athleticism, Explosiveness

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