MLB Scout School: Day 2

“ A scout must be a positive thinker.”
-MLSB Scout Development Handbook

“Get out a piece of paper and roll it up like a spy glass; like you did when you were in 3rd grade,” instructed Jim Walton. Having scouted for the last 36 years (a.k.a. my entire life span), Mr. Walton is a bit of a legend in the scouting world. So when he says look through your spy glass, with blind allegiance, we all follow. He explains to us that what we must do as scouts is “to train our eyes to see what we are looking for.” Or in more existential terms – scout through “meaningful watching.”

Today, we observed a game between the Cubs and Diamondbacks in the Instructional Leagues. It was difficult for me to evaluate all that was around me. There was just so much to look at – from the pitcher’s mechanics, to the second baseman’s double play attempt, to how fast the hitter could run to first base. I didn’t know where to focus my eyes. In the end, I stopped trying to write everything down and just observed the players while listening to my instructor’s commentaries.

I loved listening to my instructor Rusty Gerhardt. He teaches by asking us questions. For example, Mr. Gerhardt kept asking us with each pitching change, “where is the pitcher’s hand when the stride foot lands?” With pitching being my favorite aspect of the game, these types of questions and discussions were my favorite. Tomorrow, I hope to do a better job of writing what I am seeing while also listening to my instructor.

I have seen so many baseball games in my career as a player, coach, and fan but now it’s different. Now I am seeing the game through the eyes of a scout. So whether, I roll up my own paper spy glass or just visualize 77-year-old Mr. Walton standing up in front of class with his own lens, I will remember to scout using a meaningful gaze.

As we ended our first day, our head instructor gave one last warning. He told the group that after we finish this scout program we will never look at a baseball game or player the same way. And I think that is so exciting.

3 Comments

Justine – You are so fortunate to be attending the MLB Scout Development program. Many accomplished baseball people are former students. The two weeks you have undertaken will equal about five years of scouting in the field without previous training. Walton is a legend. You may feel confused, and that feeling may carry through the entire two weeks, but I promise you, guarantee you that when you return home, the dust will have settled, and all of the experience you have, all of the things you have seen in baseball, everything that you know, will have fallen into a order that you have never felt before. It is like defragmentating your computer. Remember that nobody there, not even Walton, has a crystal ball. Like purchasing a stock, scouting is using proven methodology for determining what to buy into. In baseball, that foundation is the projection of physical maturation, and what minor (not major) mechanical adjustments are required, and whether the player has the aptitude and attitude to make those adjustments. No scouting report is ever proven true until five years later, so for now, make your numbers match your words, your words match your numbers, and while passion and judgement will be heralded as the top qualities of a good scout, I feel conviction should be right there with them. Listen, and always be receptive to others’ views, but if you like a prospect, and you can back it up, then stick with it. I look forward to your blogs and you are allowing me to re-live a very memorable part of my life! Tom Valcke.

Thanks Tom. Frank and I were just talking about you. Your days as a scout and what a good person you are.

I like the valuable information you provide in your articles.
I will bookmark your blog and check again here frequently. I am quite sure I will learn many new stuff right here! Best of luck for the next!
Best Regards Cassetta

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