5-Tool Recruits…according to my mother


I have to credit my mother for the idea to write this. We were sitting around the table and my dad and I quizzed her on the traditional 5 tools. Mind you, this is the same woman who thinks putting the ball in play 4 times means you were 4 for 4. At first we thought her answers were in the right universe, but on the wrong planet. After we laughed, she said “well there is an idea for your next email-blog-thing.” She was right.

We all know the traditional 5 tools (except for my mother):
1. Hitting for Average
2. Hitting for Power
3. Speed
4. Arm Strength
5. Defensive Ability
(Example of a 5-tool player: Mike Trout)

What about the ‘other’ 5 tools college coaches look for in a player?

It is rare to find a 5-tool player. We only see them every so often. Everyone possesses these 5 tools, but just like the traditional scale, some of the tools will outweigh the others. Some tools will also be more important to one college coach than another when evaluating players. Here are the ‘other’ 5 tools….according to my mother.

1. Academics

Mom: “Ya gotta be smart.”
STUDENT-Athlete. It is written that way for a reason. It is a criteria that matters to every single college coach, but there are different levels of “ya gotta be smart.” Keep in mind we are dealing with educational institutions, not major league teams. The Yankees don’t care what your GPA is. Colleges do. Your first priority is getting an education, and theirs is giving you an education. Your academic profile can never be ‘too strong’.

2. Character

Mom: “Ya gotta be a good kid.”
College campuses are environments rich in temptation. Coaches want players who are good ambassadors for their program and contributing citizens to their college community. High character guys make better teammates. Better teammates breed a great team culture. A great team culture leads to success.

3. Ability

Mom: “Ya gotta be pretty good”
Unfortunately it is not a smart-kid-with-high-character contest. You have to have ability. Levels vary, and just because you are not an All American does not mean you can’t play college baseball. Less than 10% of high school baseball players will go on to play college baseball. The stat speaks for itself. Ability is a major tool necessary to get to the next level, and the first tool evaluated.

4. Potential

Mom: “Ya gotta be able to get better, like, as you get older.”
Potential is one thing, but the ability to reach that potential is totally different. This is where coaches come in. If you are around a backstop at a recruiting event you’ll hear, “He’s got more in the tank,” when a coach speaks about certain players. That is their way of saying he has potential to get better. Some coaches weigh the potential to get better as a major tool. Some coaches believe that they can coach a kid to reach that potential. No matter the level every coach wants kids that have the desire to improve.

5. Fit

Mom: “Coach has to like you, and you have to like him.”
Not everyone clicks. We all have people in our lives that we just don’t quite mesh with. At work you might be forced into a relationship with someone because someone else hired them, and you are stuck on the same team. Fortunately recruiting is not a forced relationship. A coach gets to pick the kids he thinks are a fit for his program. There are two important takeaways about fit. One, families should realize it’s better to accept there is not a fit, than to force a fit. Two, fit is not just about fitting with the coach, but fitting with the culture of the team and college. Transferring is often the result of forcing a fit.

The mix of the first four tools will ultimately determine your “fit” at the next level. When stepping back and looking at these five tools, perhaps the most important tools are the first two; academics and character. I call these the most important because they are the two over which you have the most control. They are also the two you cannot fake. Take pride in these two tools, and I would bet the others will conjunctly improve.


Coach’s Corner

Coach’s Corner provides tips on the recruiting process from the viewpoint of the nation’s finest college coaches.


Coach’s Corner with: Matt Antonelli

Founder of Antonelli Baseball
San Diego Padres 1st round pick (2006)
Assistant Coach at Wake Forest
Assistant Coach at Holy Cross

Matt is widely regarded as one of the best instructors in the country. His background as a successful, high school, college, and professional player gives him a wealth of knowledge that he enjoys sharing with players off all skill sets across the country.

This month Matt will share the infield routine that he uses with his youth, high school, college, and professional players.

Click the Image Below to View Matt’s Infield Drills

Antonelli Drill

Click to watch the video


PTW provides coaching and guidance to help you gain admission to colleges that best meet your academic and athletic goals. Our mission is to achieve the proper balance of sport and education. We have the most effective and ethical approach to the recruiting process.

For more info on Play to Win Click Here

For info and registration for our upcoming Scholar-Athlete Workouts Click Here