The draft is less than a month away, and new players will join the organization with the promise of being potential All-Stars, or perhaps, the next bust. Predicting player development is hard work, and that is perhaps best illustrated by going back and looking at old scouting reports. Baseball America has made that possible by archiving all of their scouting reports, and it is fun to go back and look at what they thought of players back when they were pimple-faced teenagers. Here is a snippet from a report on All-World outfielder Mike Trout.
Trout’s frame and skill set draws comparisons to Aaron Rowand, but he’s a faster runner--he runs the 60-yard dash in 6.5 seconds....Trout’s bat is not a sure thing, but he has a chance to be a solid-average hitter with average or better power.
Wow, Aaron Rowand!
How about Aaron Judge?
Judge puts on jaw-dropping batting practice displays, but some scouts worry that his power won’t translate to games.
Led the league in home runs last year.
How about last year’s Cy Young winner, Corey Kluber?
He doesn’t have a legitimate put-away pitch and profiles as a back-of-the-rotation starter.
You get the point, projecting players is hard business, which is why scouts are paid hundreds, even thousands of dollars to decide the fate or the organization.
I took snippets of draft scouting reports on current Royals - can you identify the players being described? Answers will be in spoiler text in the comments below.
“He’s the best athlete among [his] draft-eligible group, with 6.7-second speed in the 60 and team-highs in 12 home runs and 12 stolen bases. [Player] earns Ryan Freel comparisons and plays with a swagger that defies his 6-foot, 165-pound frame.”
“highly regarded out of high school, remained a dud as a college hitter, batting a career .275 and just .278 this spring with a team-high six homers.”
“positioned himself to go in the first three rounds after flashing a 95-96 mph fastball and a plus curveball in the Cape Cod League last summer. After an inconsistent spring, he may go closer to the 10th round....“He looks like Roger Clemens in the bullpen,” one scout said, “but he gets whacked.”...has a strong 6-foot-3, 223-pound frame and showed a 91-94 mph fastball and hard curve ... Scouts don’t love his delivery and question his mental toughness.”
“He has perhaps the best fastball in the state among draft-eligible players, reaching 95 mph and sitting in the 90-93 mph range with his four-seamer. He’s somewhat mature in build and has had back issues in his past, and needs to get stronger...His mechanics aren’t a thing of beauty, one easy indicator of how much work he has to do. He doesn’t command the strike zone or throw a changeup, and he hasn’t maintained his velocity deep into games either. “
“Scouts describe him as a Jeff Kent-style player in a Drew Stubbs body....He could hit 20-25 homers annually in the big leagues...also moves well for his size and may be able to stay at shortstop for a while, though he’ll lack the quickness to play there in the big leagues. He has close to average speed and moves well enough to be an asset at third base and possibly at second.”
“usually pitches at 88-91 mph, shows the potential for a plus curveball and has a developing changeup. He has the body and easy delivery to remain a starter. He could stand to rein in his cockiness. [Player] also shows promising power potential as a third baseman and may play both ways [in college]. He’s also a star basketball player who avereged 19 points and six rebounds a game as a senior.”
“He was the starting quarterback...as a freshman and has a bazooka for an arm--his fastball sat in the low 90s early in the year in relief roles and hit 97 mph in April. His power arm isn’t his best tool though, as [his] quiet, quick hands, polished approach and strength at the plate produce light-tower power and a smooth swing he repeats easily. Earlier in the year, scouts wondered about his defensive position--he’s [a] shortstop but will move immediately as a pro....His bat will play at any spot, even first base, though it would be a shame to waste that arm there.”
“has above-average fastball velocity at 90-94 mph, but the pitch lacks life and command thanks to poor mechanics. He rushes through his delivery, leaving his pitches up in the strike zone. He’s vulnerable to home runs because he finishes too upright and doesn’t drive the ball downhill. Scouts do consider the flaws to be correctable. “
“He’s a classic tweener outfielder who doesn’t profile as an everyday player on a championship club....His set-up and swing are unorthodox. He has a wide stance and pumps his hands as a trigger. He makes consistent contact when pitches are down in the zone and uses the whole field, but lacks leverage and loft. He’s a 50 runner on the 20-80 scale, although his speed plays up on the basepaths.”
“Even when he has his velocity [Player] has missed his spots, leaving balls up in the zone, and his changeup--a plus pitch in the past--has taken a step back as well. His slurvy breaking ball needs to be tighter and find the strike zone more often.”
“His catch-and-throw skills should get him to the big leagues as a reserve at the least. ...he still has below-average bat speed. His best-case scenario offensively is a .250 hitter with 10 homers, but that would make him a big league starter because his defense is that good.”
“A lefthanded hitter, he projects to have more gap power than home run pop with wood bats. The 5-foot-11, 183-pounder draws a lot of walks and should be able to hit in pro ball. His well-below-average speed will force him to move from shortstop to second base, where his arm strength will be less of an asset.”
“a big body who surged forward with velocity as a high school senior. Previously using an 88-91 mph fastball, [Player] improved his work ethic in the weight room and gained velocity by dedicating to a long-toss program, and there were reports he touched as high as 96 mph. [Player]throws a slider and changeup as well, and the slider has some power to it in the low 80s. He has a clean arm and durable 6-foot-5, 230-pound body.”
“should hit for power and average because he has a sweet lefthanded swing, strength, exceptional strike-zone discipline and the ability to make adjustments. He uses the entire field and can drive the ball where it’s pitched after getting pull-conscious as a sophomore....some thought he might have to move to first base or an outfield corner. But he has worked hard on his defense, where his strong arm, instincts and quickness are assets. A solid-average runner...There’s no glaring weakness in his game, and he should advance rapidly as a pro.”
See answers below.