Pro Baseball Tryouts
By Steven Ellis, former Chicago Cubs pitching pro
I'll never forget my first pro baseball tryout camp. It was with the Reds in Binghamton, N.Y., not far from where I grew up. I was 15 years old, by far one of the youngest kids at the event, but my dad wanted to put me in front of as many scouts as possible. So we went to dozens of pro baseball tryouts over the next few years. It really paid off, too. In 1997, I was offered a full baseball scholarship to pitch at Division 1 Bradley University of the Missouri Valley Conference. My junior year at Bradley, I was drafted by the Oakland A's in the 12th-round of the 2000 MLB draft and was the Chicago Cubs' 18th-pick in 2001. I pitched for the Cubs for four years.
You, too, can have the opportunities I did to play professional baseball. The key, of course, is to showcase your talents in front of as many pro scouts as possible and play summer ball at the highest level possible. The better the competition the better you become.
How To Find Pro Baseball Tryouts
Subscribe to TryoutCamps.com for unlimited access to pro baseball tryout camp listings throughout the United States. Your annual membership gives you access to up-to-date listings of MLB tryouts, independent league tryouts, college tryouts, high school showcases and more!
Another great spot to begin the search for tryout camps in is your local newspaper's sports section. Start looking in late spring and early summer, when most teams hold tryout camps.
Although the Major League Baseball's amateur baseball draft takes place during the first week of June each year, pro baseball teams typically continue to hold tryout camps through the end of July in the hopes of snagging free agents to round out minor league baseball rosters. Pitchers have the distinct advantage as being the most likely to get drafted at pro tryout camps. Every team ALWAYS needs pitching.
MLB has an excellent online resource for locating pro baseball tryouts. It's divided into three parts. Each link below takes you the specific MLB Web page in a pop-up window.
Locate the Major League Baseball Scouting Bureau's tryout camp schedule in the United States, click here.
Locate the Major League Baseball Scouting Bureau's tryout camp schedule in Canada and Alaska, click here.
Find a pro tryout camp for a specific major league baseball team, click here.
What To Expect At A Pro Baseball Tryout
1. 60 yard sprint in pairs.
2. Run through the line.
3. Catchers throw to second.
4. Pitchers throw in bullpen as
5. Outfielders throw to third and home
6. Infielders field grounders and throw to first.
7. Selected players bat.
Most pro tryouts consist of a lot of pitchers competing for attention, with very little time to show what you can actually do. In order to standout, however, there are few things you can do to draw attention to yourself.
When you first arrive at the pro tryout, make sure you jog for 5 to 10 minutes, stretch, and throw to get loose.
When you're called to pitch, run out to the mound, take the ball and work fast, but work controlled.
Challenge hitters with your fastball, but don't overthrow it because you'll actually lose pitching velocity and control. Be aggressive.
Stay focused. Even though some of your friends may be at the tryout, too, don't joke around until the tryout is over. Stay focused, stay relaxed, and let it happen.
One last thing: Don't "buddy up" to the scouts that are there. Pro baseball scouts don't hold tryout camps to make friends. They're there to evaluate talent. I'm not trying to be harsh, but when at a pro baseball tryout camp, let your skills do the talking.
Trust me. The scouts will buddy up to you if you've got something they like!
How Pro Scouts Evaluate Pitching Talent
Here you'll find a copy of the Minnesota Twins free agent player report. It's the document pro baseball scouts in the Twins organization use to evaluate baseball pitching and baseball hitting talent. This scouting report is very similar to those used by other major league baseball organizations.
For baseball pitchers, scouts look at a few things, some of which you can control (for instance, your attitude, your work ethic), others you cannot (for instance, your height, your hand size). Pro scouts generally use a grading scale by which they rate skill on a curve from 2 to 8. Two is "poor," while 7 and 8 are "very good" and "outstanding," respectively. Most baseball players who score around a 5 have a shot at getting drafted by a big league team.
In pitching, some or all of the following garner high scores on the 2 to 8 grading scale: fastball velocity, fastball movement, off-speed pitch movement, overall command of the strike zone, command of pitches, poise on the mound (called mound presence), and baseball instinct (for instance, does the pitcher know where to go and what to do on the mound?).
However, pro baseball scouts also want to know if you wear glasses or contacts (which they rate poorly). They want to know about previous injuries (which, again, they rate poorly). Are your parents married or divorced? Has anyone in your family been drafted professionally by a baseball team before? And finally, scouts want to know if you'll sign easily. (If so, for how much?)
Do you have what it takes to go pro? See for yourself. How would you rate your baseball skills right now?
Common Questions About Pro Baseball Tryouts
Q. "Who is in charge of your tryout camps?"
A. Territorial scouts from the Major League Scouting Bureau sponsor the tryouts. They work for Major League Baseball and all 30 major league organizations.
Q. "Are there any age requirements as to who can tryout?"
A. All players must be at least 16 years old to participate.
Q. "What should I bring to the camp?"
A. Bring gear that you would practice or play a game in. (Hat, cleats, glove, baseball pants.) Bats and balls are provided at the workout. Catchers may want to use their own catching gear.
Q. "Is there any cost involved to tryout?"
A. The tryouts are free of charge. Transportation costs are those of the participant.
Q. "I'm a center fielder and a pitcher. Can I tryout at both positions?"
A. No, a participant will be asked to choose their best position.
Q. "Can I go to other MLSB Open Tryout Camps?"
A. Yes, participants can attend as many of the tryouts as they wish.
Q. "Do I have to register for the camps?"
A. Registration cards will be passed out prior to the beginning of each camp to identify each participant.
Q. "Who watches the players at these camps?"
A. All thirty major league baseball organizations are invited to the tryouts.
Q. "If a team is interested in me after seeing the tryout, can they sign me to a professional contract on the spot?"
A. No, the tryout camp must be finished and the participant cannot sign until he leaves the facility.
Related Pitching Materials
Want to learn more about youth baseball pitching? Arm yourself with the most innovative and up-to-date baseball pitching training available. These related pitching materials from former Chicago Cubs pitching pro Steven Ellis are guaranteed to help you or the players you coach pitch better and reach the next level faster!