If your kid is a catcher and wants to earn a college scholarship to play baseball or fastpitch softball, they should be aware of what college coaches are looking for.
Although there's many factors involved in college recruiting, a few key ones play an outsized role in recruiting for catchers.
In this article, we explore the three best catcher stats that are most important and influential towards the chances of earning that coveted scholarship.
Let's take a closer look.
3 Best Catcher Stats That Can Earn Your Kid a College Scholarship
1. Pop Time
Pop time is one of the most important defensive statistics for catchers. It's also one of the most closely scrutinized stats by college recruiters.
A low pop time relative to others the same age says a lot about a catcher. In particular, it shows that the catcher has good ball transfer skills, quick release, and solid arm strength.
Highly valued traits for catchers at the college level.
To improve pop time, work with your kid on their footwork, glove to hand transfer, and accurate throws to second base.
Practice with a stopwatch, and also consider working with a coach that has experience training catchers.
2. Catcher Velo
Catcher velo, or the speed in miles per hour (MPH) at which a catcher can throw the ball to second base, is another critical stat. A high catcher velo demonstrates a strong arm and the ability to make quick throws.
Blake Mitchell, the highest rated high school catcher in 2023 (and a 1st round pick by the Royals), had a catcher velo of 83 mph.
College coaches no doubt want catchers who can keep baserunners from attempting to steal simply because of their catcher's ability to gun down runners.
Work on building arm strength through regular strength and conditioning exercises tailored for catchers. And practice, practice, practice hard throws down to second.
3. Caught Stealing Percentage
Caught stealing percentage (or CS%) is a direct reflection of a catcher's ability to throw out baserunners attempting to steal. It's a simple average indicating the number of times a catcher threw out a runner that attempted to steal on them. For example, 5 runners caught stealing on 10 attempts is a 50% CS%.
Coaches love catchers with a high caught stealing percentage because it's a clear, quantitative indicator at how successful a catcher has been at throwing runners out.
To boost CS%, ensure your kid practices throwing to second base consistently and working on their accuracy and timing. Additionally, learning to read baserunners' movements and making quick decisions are crucial skills.
5 Other Factors That Impact Scholarship Potential
Although these top three statistics are critically important for catchers, there are of course a number of other factors that coaches and recruiters look for when considering a good college catcher candidate.
Here are five additional attributes to keep in mind.
1. Batting Average
While our top 3 were defensive, of course that's only one side of the coin.
Catcher's still gotta hit!
If you have a solid pop time, catcher velo, CS% AND a high batting average at the prep level, then you're golden.
College coaches love catchers that can hit for power and/or consistency and can get on base. Encourage your kid not to neglect their hitting but to put in work in the batting cage as well as practicing their defense.
2. Exit Velocity
Exit velocity is a key metric that showcases a hitter's power and bat speed. While it's not limited to catchers, a high exit velocity can make your kid an even more attractive prospect because it shows they can crush the ball.
Hitting the ball with authority not only helps with base hits but can also result in more extra-base hits and home runs - all things recruiters love.
Lots of hitting practice combined with strength training can help improve exit velocity.
College coaches are not just looking for athletes; they also want student-athletes who excel in the classroom.
A strong high school GPA demonstrates discipline, maturity, intellect, and the ability to balance academics with athletics. All things being equal, if a coach has two identical catcher candidates, it's highly likely that the one with the high GPA (as well as the intangibles below) would have the best shot at the scholarship.
In addition to baseball or softball practice, encourage your child to prioritize their studies and maintain a good academic record.
4. Leadership Skills
Catchers often serve as the "field generals" of the team. Countless professional catchers will tell you that a catcher's ability to lead people and manage the game is worth far more than skills alone.
College coaches really value players who work hard, lead by example, communicate effectively with pitchers, and motivate their teammates.
Developing leadership skills - especially in a team setting - can greatly enhance your kid's prospects of landing a college scholarship.
Being receptive to correction and showing a willingness to learn is a trait that is required at the college level. College coaches want players on their team who are coachable and eager to improve.
Teach your child the importance of being respectful, being open to feedback and willing to make adjustments to their game.
Final Thoughts: Top Factors That Can Earn Your Catcher a Scholarship
While the defensive stats of pop time, catcher velo, and caught stealing percentage are critical for catchers, it's important to remember that college coaches and recruiters consider a broad set of attributes when evaluating potential scholarship candidates.
By excelling in the areas mentioned in this article, your kid can vastly increase their appeal to college programs and enhance their chances of realizing their dreams on the field and in the classroom.