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Major League Baseball’s Hidden Sixth Tool

Major League Baseball’s Hidden Sixth Tool

By Scott Centala

11 years ago




I just finished partnering with several MLB organizations for the annual amateur draft and the process of assessing athletic talent never ceases to amaze me.  In baseball, you may have heard the term “five-tool player” used to describe the rare player that excels at all five of the major physical tools (Speed, Throwing, Fielding, Hiting for Average, and Hitting for Power).

In evaluating players, three criteria are then used to measure and compare each of the five tools: Identification (Present day, Big league value), Projection (Highest future potential), and Probability (Percentage that highest future potential will be realized).  Understand that the five-tool player, the one who is above average in all five tools, is of tremendous value.

A sixth tool, the mental makeup of a prospect, is often overlooked and can be very difficult to measure.  And yet it can be the critical factor in either utilizing the five tools well or more commonly in stifling them!  This mental makeup also drives the behaviors of the prospect, which is where I come in with our Flippen 360 Profile.   Our behavioral assessment and constraint theory approach not only identifies present day value, but also speaks to the rate of development and overall performance ceiling of each prospect.  Not only that, I can dial the profile data all the way in to each position in order to discern between roles such as a starting pitcher versus a closer.

It’s pretty easy to separate players when one player’s tools are much stronger than another’s.  The real fun is when several players have a similar tool set such as two starting pitchers who have three pitches they can throw at three different speeds.  What separates them then?  If you could only draft one of them, which one would you pick?  And if you’ve already drafted one, what would it be worth to know the #1 thing that could prevent them from making it to the big leagues?  If you would like to know, I would be more than happy to help you with that answer.

By the way, with all of the negative publicity surrounding professional sports these days, here is a refreshing story to remind us why baseball truly is America’s Game:




Scott Centala

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