Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Foul Territory (Part II)

Driving across Alligator Alley this morning on my way to watch South Dade Community College, I figured I would call the company that emailed me those three scouting reports yesterday. Of course, a machine picked up. I wasn't surprised to hear some punk who's voice was still crackling from puberty. "Ah, thanks for calling Performance Scouting. Please leave a message and I'll call you back. Bye bye."

Sad to say, his voice did seem somewhat familiar. Too familiar actually. In fact, I was sure that I had heard him before but I just couldn't place when, where, or who.

After listening to his message though, I'd bet all my chips that he was just some pencil pushing, Harvard grad who's never faced anything faster than the pitching machines at his local batting cages. I didn't bother to leave a message. But that didn't deter him from emailing me two more scouting reports this afternoon. These two players were from Macon University. Again, both seniors. And again, my territory. One was a pitcher and the other a first baseman. Manny had been tracking the pitcher but not the first baseman.

Of course I read the reports, word for word, stat for stat. The audacity of someone trying to do my job for me. And I didn't like his style one bit. He had so much to learn about writing scouting reports. There were way too many statistics. Not enough words. Not enough description about the player and his tools. No comparisons to other MLB players he's seen. No vision about what this prospect could become in the future. To make matters worse, the guy threw in his own commentary. For example, on the first baseman's report, he'd write, "Burke's on-base percentage of .505, the most important isolated offensive statistic, is the best in his conference and quite frankly-- insane." I couldn't give two craps about an isolated offensive statistic.

At first base, I want a bat that can hit in the top half of the order with some definite power potential. Give me someone that I can see evolving into a Todd Helton or Eddie Murray type hitter. But I also want some nimble footwork, soft hands, and a laser accurate throw. That's what makes my first basemen different from the others. Some scouts, especially the lazy ones, will trade or even sacrifice a first baseman's defensive tools in favor of their offensive firepower. Granted, top hitters are at a premium, but bad defense at first can lose championships. Just ask the 1986 Red Sox.

Tomorrow I head up coast to St. Lucie JC and then catch an U18 AAU scrimmage in Vero Beach at 7:30pm. I'll probably get back to my hotel at 10pm, so look for my post sometime after that. The U18 scrimmage will feature one of the nation's top five-toolers. I would imagine at least a half dozen scouts will be there to watch this high school phenom. Maybe I'll post my own scouting report on the kid just to show you folks what I'm talking about? If you're interested, post a comment and I'll put my scouting report up for show tomorrow night; otherwise I'll move on to something else.


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