Monday, May 13, 2013

Scouts Are the Backbone and Unheralded Part of the MLB Team

Recently, MLB has started to recognize baseball scouts in the game's history.  They have started to award the scout of the year and recently released archives of scouting reports from various scouts regarding many players of the past. 
This allows me to talk about the importance of scouting to the teams and how they truly are the backbone of the organization.  The are several different type of scouts in baseball.  The most well known of which are the amateur scouts. These are the ones who search all over the country or world to find the next star for their big league club. Each scout is usually in charge of certain region of USA or part of the world.
There also scouts working in the minor leagues. They could either be giving the MLB team updates on development of their own players or could be watching players in other organizations who may become available in trades.  Then there is the advance scouts at the major league level.   They are usually watching the teams who their employers are playing next.  They are watching for trends for the upcoming team's players. For the hitters, it could be what pitch he his hitting well or getting out on and for pitchers, what pitches are being thrown well and in what kind of pattern.
Back to the archive of scouting reports. As I was going through them, it is interesting to see what some of the scouts think of the future stars before they become pros. For example, 1990 #1 overall draft pick and future Hall of Famer Chipper Jones. The Braves, who drafted him, said Jones had "outstanding hands", "accurate arm" with "power improving with maturity". Meanwhile his "swing is slightly long" but overall has "superstar potential".  Meanwhile the Chicago White Sox scout stated during Jones' first pro season that he was a "disappointment" in the eight games he saw of him and suggested that White Sox should not acquire him if he becomes available.
It is also fun to read about a player coming from high school and see how he develops and perceived after a few years in college. As an example, Bo Jackson. Out of high school, he is described as having a "football body-tight and bulky", "lacks fluidness" and is "a poor sign at this time. Will take a very big bonus sign-will have to match Auburn Univ and alumni".   Three years later, the same scout said of Jackson: "complete type player with outstanding tools. gifted athlete. best pure athlete in America today" and he thinks Jackson is liking baseball more now than before.   Another football/baseball player scouted was Kirk Gibson. One scout, said Gibson "is very adamant about playing his senior year of college football" but "baseball needs him"
Also interesting to read about the perceptions of former pitcher Jim Abbott, as he was born without a right hand or the signability of Derek Jeter(he was signed to attend of U. Michigan) and how he was compared to another big league shortstop and a Michigan alumnus, Barry Larkin.  Here is the link to the website of the archived scouting reports: You can search for your favorite players and see how they were perceived as players.
As you can see, scouts are very vital to the success of an organization.  The best scouts will give your favorite teams the proper information and analysis of future big leaguers and could end up finding the core of a championship team.  Of course, poor scouting could force a team to struggle at the big league level as they could miss on drafting a future star over a career minor leaguer.   The current scouts are working hard right now as they are looking for the right player for next month's MLB amateur draft.  Good luck to your favorite team in the draft and hope their scouting department serves them well.  

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