TAMPA, FL - TAMPA - Grading amateur baseball prospects can be a tricky proposition. Unlike other major sports, players can be drafted out of high school and go straight to the minor leagues. For that matter, it's the only sport with a minor league system. It's also a sport that sees super-talented players go to junior college so they can remain draft eligible the following year. It's a sport that has seen players like Bryce Harper bypass their final two years of high school and go play in a junior college wood bat league.
Grading players across all of these platforms can be very difficult. Major League Baseball standards are to use the 20-80 scale - with 20 being 'poor' and 80 being 'elite'. The problem is that most high school players don't show up on some parts of that scale, such as the hitting portion. There isn't a high school player in the country, Harper included, that can step into the Big Leagues right now and hold their own hitting. That would make every high school player in America a 20 hitter presently. This issue causes MLB teams to use a 'present' and 'future' grade to grade out tools - such as placing a 20/50 grade on a player's hitting ability to project what kind of hitter that he may be in the future.
And what about colleges? Colleges don't use a uniform scale, and every coach and recruiter grades out players in their own way.
It has been a goal of Prospect Wire to come up with a universal scouting scale that is simple, easy to understand, yet can tell you something meaningful about the player in a snapshot. A 0-100 system was toyed with, a modified 20-80 scale was toyed with, and a 5 star scale similar to football recruiting was all but official.
After group meetings, consulting with experienced baseball people, and a whole bunch of tweaking, PW has came up with our own PW Scouting Scale to grade out players at the high school level. The PW Rating Scale is a 2-number system, to solve the dilemma of grading players for collegiate and professional purposes.
Starting in the summer of 2010, all players will be graded on this new scale. As time passes and new issues arise, the scale will continue to be tweaked. But after examining the scale for awhile now, we feel confident that this is an accurate, uniform way of grading high school prospects. To learn more about the new scale, you can click here.