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Really Fun Draft Story (Long)


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Okay, maybe just "Fun Draft Story"

I exchanged texts with my Area Scout yesterday, going over his meeting with our bosses on Wednesday (Regional Director, Cross-Checkers and Scouting Director). I told him my summer schedule for the large scouting events on the circuit and let him know to contact me when he knew where he'd be and if he wanted me to scope out anyone in particular at certain events.

At the end of our exchange he asked if I could make it out to see one player during regionals, and if I could to pull the schedule from online and let him know what I think afterwards. My wife and I have plans this evening so I was pretty certain I wouldn't be able to go tonight -- maybe tomorrow. After checking the schedule, however, I found out the team was one out from elimination and playing this morning at 10am. I checked my schedule at the office and had nothing going on, so after ten minutes of thinking on it I made the call to scout today rather than do the law thing (it also gave me a chance to go see a top 2 round guy afterward at another field).

I showed up to find out he was pitching rather than playing CF. Okay -- I guess seeing him throw is okay, but I really wanted to see him in the outfield. In any event, I was sure he'd be batting since he is the team's best bat, and a good catalyst (speed and smarts). I hadn't seen him in action before, so this game would basically shape my report to my organization.

I sat down behind home with the coaches of another team in the regional. An assistant coach quickly introduced himself and asked who I was with and if I was here to see Player X. I told him I was and he said, "He's throwing a lot softer than he normally does. He's been in center the last two days (they played three games) so he might just be tired." My gun readings on the fastball were 83, 85, 84. The first three pitches. Sigh.

He got it up to 88, but still not draft worthy for a 6' righty with meh secondaries. I stuck around two innings, got my video, and waited for his AB. Walked up the 1st base side to get a better view and video. Ball 1 in the dirt. HBP. Sigh. didn't even get to see a swing. He went down to first and was promptly picked off leaning the wrong way (he's a big SB guy and was clearly trying to get something going).

Well, that was that. I wasn't going to sit and watch an NP when I had a 1.5 hr drive to Milwaukee to see the top draft kid. I was ready to chalk it up to "just a bad luck day for scouting a kid", since I couldn't see him in the outfield, couldn't get a home-to-1st time and couldn't get a look at his swing (tough to write-up a position player with literally no info on him :)).

I went back to my seat and started packing up. Sent some texts to my Area Scout and to another guy to let him know I was heading to UW - Milwaukee and wondering how Kyle Gaedele looked last night. After I was done with my messaging I talked myself into doing a half inning of side work on this kid pitching, just to cover all my bases and give my bosses a look from both angles. I saw Player X was coming up second next inning and decide -- okay, I'll stick around a little bit longer and try one ore time to get a look at the swing.

I made my way into the camera well next to the dugout and stood next to the camera man photographing the game. 1-2 count (all looking) and I was frustrated I'd wasted essential 40mins getting side video of a pitcher that was really only a positional prospect and 5 pitches of him taking in the box.

The next pitch he sent out to left center, about 385 feet. Absolutely crushed. The camera man turned to me writing on my pad and said, "Pretty good timing for that, huh?" I smiled and said, "For him and for me."

During the drive to Milwaukee, I just thought about how many different times I considered either not going or not staying up to that last AB. Now, my write-up likely isn't going to get him drafted on its own. And the view is still limited, from my perspective, since we are talking about one swing. But this kid now his the last report filed as a homerun, with accompanying video, and that file is going to be looked at in the coming weeks and considered on Day 3 of the draft. Who knows -- maybe it nudges things a little closer in his favor.

Anyway, maybe the story was a bad one, or wasn't interesting. But I am in love with stories that end in good things happening to young ballplayers. This kid was throwing 4 mph slower than he normally does, got HBP and picked off, and still managed to make a good impression on the scout that happened to be there to see him that day. One swing made the whole day worth it...

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Seems kind of arbitrary that one swing could impact his evaluation a lot, but that's life I guess. You go home, and whether he hits two more homers, or whiffs completely, no longer is relevant.

Right. The but when you talking about later round kids a lot of times there isn't tons distinguishing them, and Area guys are really left to lobby for players they want. In this case, this kid has another positive in his report. Would it matter for Bubba Starling? Of course not. But for a kid looking at getting picked closer to the 11th-20th round, maybe it helps.

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Update to story -- the game I saw was the last of the season, as this team was eliminated from regionals today. I just exchanged texts w/my Area guy and apparently he was an on-the-fence guy after meetings with our bosses, so my take/video actually might pull some weight to break the tie (so to speak). Right now our focus is on trying to figure out who we might get with our 1st pick, but as the higher-ups finalize the preference list I guess we'll find out where they come down on Player X.

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Great story. Every team scouts the showcase kids over and over again. I love it when a lesser known kid fights through the wall at the end of the season and somehow does something at the right moment to get attention. Classic scouting tale...

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I know it's an anecdote, but it shows the value of having more scouts with respect to later round picks, IMO. Non-elite talents with tools can be found, but those tools may not jump out at the evaluator who only gets to seem them on a limited basis.

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  • 2 weeks later...
I missed this story the first go round, but thanks for it, Stotle.

I see you can't say much specifically, but was his draft position in line with your expectations? Perhaps more favorable post-your-report, as hoped?

My organization did not draft him, but he went around where I had him on my pref list. I could have seen him slipping to the 11-15 range, but am not surprised someone took a shot on his athleticism.

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