Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies scouts conduct evaluation camp in LF

“This is mainly an evaluation camp,” Petersen explained. “It has happened where a minor league team will have a guy get hurt and the organization will ask us if we have anybody that can step in and someone will be signed directly from a camp. But mainly we just want to see how these guys stack up to major league standards.”

Conn and Petersen graded players on their tool–arm strength, raw hitting power and speed.

The 60-yard dash was used to measure a player’s speed. According to Petersen, major league scale used for a good time was 6.9 seconds.

Conn used a radar gun to see how fast outfielders could throw from right field to third base and from right field to home. The major league scale was 90 mph.

“Obviously, not every outfielder in the majors throws that hard,” he said. “But that is the scale we use to evaluate a player’s major league potential.”

Infielders were also tested on arm strength based on throws from deep short to first base with the scale being 85 mph.

Finally, after a brief hitting session using wood bats, players were given scores out of 100 based on their overall performance. A score of 50 is about average according Conn and Peterson.

Conn and Peterson then enter the player’s names, hometown and scores into their computers. If they feel a player is worth future scouting, they bring up his information on the computer and go from there.

“We like to see kids with a year left (in high school) so we can come back and see them play next year,” Conn said.

Conn and Petersen scouted together in the Braves organization for 16 years before Petersen moved to the Phillies organization. This was the second year both scouts conducted a camp in Little Falls.

“We try and do at least one of these camps in every state,” Conn said. “We used to be over in Fergus Falls but we wanted to be more centrally located.”

Only nine players attended the camp Thursday. Numbers have been steadily falling the past couple of years according to Conn. He cites showcase camps as the main reason for the decline.

A showcase camp is a camp where players pay money to take part in an evaluation conducted by several hundred major league scouts from different organizations

“Things have changed,” he said. “We used to get 50-100 kids at each one of these. Now a kid can pay a bunch of money and be seen by hundreds of scouts at one time instead of just one or two like the camp here.”

But the falling participation rates didn’t seem to discourage Conn and Petersen. They hope to be back in Little Falls again next year.

“Our purpose is to show kids in this area that the Braves are interested in their talents,” Conn said. “Maybe they can’t afford $300 to go to one of these showcase camps.”

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