Prep Baseball Report

Learning from the NFL Combine: How Can Baseball Players Maximize Their Opportunities

Brandon Hall
North Carolina Director of Scouting

I love the NFL Combine… For four days, the NFL Network is on multiple TVs in my house and it is one of the few times that a Disney movie will not trump my preference for entertainment.  This does not sit well with my 2 year old all the time, but my wife is kind enough to give me this win. 

In my time as a college coach, I was fortunate to be around a start-up football program, building from nothing.  One of the first items put in place was the weight room and strength staff.  We would have a team on campus for one year, working out and practicing, but not playing any games, and the strength and conditioning situation needed to be installed quickly.  The strength coaches brought in did a very good job and had some history with players, scouts, and agents in the football world as doing a good job developing players to get ready for the NFL combine.  Each year there would be several players, from across the country come in to get ready for the Combine.  Seeing a 320 pound offensive lineman work to run an explosive 10 yard sprint will hook you, if you are anything like me.

There are a lot of similarities between the NFL Combine and pro-style workouts for baseball players, working to catch the eye of a college coach or pro scout.  While there are some areas that directly correlate to on-field success in both sports, there are also events players will take part in that may be antiquated and out dated… but they are not going anywhere.  NFL prospects will drop their football workouts for over two months to train for the spandex workouts in Indianapolis.  These workouts do not really make them better prospects, but they do allow the player to post grades and numbers that can be compared to the hundreds and thousands of players that have run through the gauntlet before them.  While these workouts should not be the end of the tape for baseball or football prospects, prospects can use these to bolster their own resume.

Learning from the Combine

The 40 Yard Dash

The 40 is the highlight of most of the TV coverage from Indianapolis.  It is one of the events that is performed by each positional group.   The event is laser timed and just about every evaluator in the building is working to sit on a certain yard line to get their own hand held time as well.  At the NFL level, evaluators have become very good at putting different emphasis on different numbers for different positions.  A 40 time for a Corner Back or Linebacker may show the ability to keep up with players in open space while running routes.  A 40 time for an offensive lineman gives us a view of the athleticism and quickness, but evaluators may place more emphasis on the 10 yard time from the big guys, as they may not run a full 40 yards on any one play in a game situation.

For baseball players at workout, the 60 is the closest standard to the NFL’s 40 times.  Sixty yards is a long distance for a baseball player.  There are arguments that the 60 is outdated and should be replaced with a 30 yard dash or 40 yard dash.  Realistically, this probably won’t happen because the scouting community would lose a lot of data on players that have run 60s for years and years and years. 

Speed is one of the five major tools that position players can be evaluated on.  There are instances where the 60 can be deceiving.  From experience, younger players may hit a similar top end speed to that of some older players, but they are not strong enough to hold that speed and finish 60 yards. 

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