The third “Tool” that college coaches and professional scouts look for is “Power” at the plate.
Power is not necessarily just home run power, but it can also be gap to gap power.
Every hitter that wants to play at the college or professional level needs to possess the ability to at a minimum drive a baseball over the outfielders heads in order to keep them honest. Anybody, whether you are 5’5 150 pounds or 6-5 225, needs to be able to do this.
What brings about power?
The ability to generate max velocity of the bat head as well as make contact with the baseball in the right sequence where your body allows you to “hit behind” the baseball. Hitting with the correct swing sequence is hitting from the ground up, so your bat head is getting “thrown” through the zone instead of pushed.
How you can judge power:
The two easiest ways to judge what kind of power someone has are:
Watching their batting practice session: A guy with great power is going to have baseballs “jump” off of his bat. His balls will also carry much farther than you would expect. Instead of a line drive being caught by the left fielder, it will carry over his head and short-hop the fence.
Exit velocity of the ball while hitting off of the tee: This is my favorite tool to determine where a player is in relationship to other players I have coached.
A player that has an exit velocity (we will discuss how to do this in a separate article), using wood of 90+ miles per hour has just about the lowest amount of “bat speed” to hit at a D-1 level. Obviously, the better hitters that I have coached have been in the upper 90′s, and the two hitters that are in the big leagues, were 104 MPH.
There is a very strong correlation between this number and your ability to hit at a high level.
Having a number of 90+ doesn’t necessarily mean you will be a great hitter, but having a number less than 90 almost guarantees you will not be able to hit at a D-1 level.
I have also discussed the Importance of Bat Speed in previous articles. All of my players follow a very specific hitting routine that has provided unbelievable results!
Last winter, in workouts that began in January and ended in April, the average bat speed increase was 7 MPH.
The most important key for them was not any special drill, but was the fact that these guys were hitting ALL the time.
Without taking at least 200 swings/day, they wouldn’t have reached those numbers!
There are obviously other factors that go into making a great hitter, but bat speed is definitely the most important! You don’t always have to have “Plus” power, but you have to have at least average if you want to be a good hitter! Even the “slap” hitters, like Ichiro, have the ability to hit a baseball a very long way in batting practice!