Monday, June 07, 2004

Scouting reports: a retrospective

I just saw this article on about scouting reports on some of today's all-star players and it's always interesting to see how accurate one scout's assessment was in hindsight. Here are a couple of my favorites:
Nomar Garciaparra
Georgia Tech. Age 20, 1994.

Slim, slight frame. Wiry, long legs. NEEDS STRENGTH ... Aggressive and flashy with hands. Natural instincts with hands. Average arm when he unloads. Good baserunner, consistent contact. Spray type ... Long and weak upper half. Has enough quickness to hit but needs added strength for long haul. Flips ball a lot -- gets careless ... Will hit if he gets stronger. Can cover ground. Quick, agile kid for middle of field. Good package.

Drafted: Red Sox, No. 12 overall.
That sounds about right. Nomar was extremely skinny, but has since put on some muscle -- even though he's always had power.

Ken Griffey Jr.
Moeller High, Cincinnati. Age 17, 1987.

Trim, well-proportioned, young face and body ... Immature at times ... Rare combination of speed/power/instincts. Smooth, fluid, natural actions. Makes game look easy. Bat speed with HR power. CF arm and overall defense ... Will show lackadaisical play. Doesn't utilize outstanding natural ability all of the time ... Similar style but much better than Barry Bonds at same stage. Super star potential.

Drafted: Mariners, No. 1 overall.
Hmmm. 'Immature at times?' Where'd that come from? It's funny how you don't hear much about Griffey's attitude when he's hitting jacks every night, but if he's in a slump or injured he's pretty much characterized as incorrigible.

Randy Johnson
Livermore (Calif.) High. Age 18, 1982.

Stork-like body -- tallest pitcher I've ever scouted ... Timid due to awkwardness and plenty of room to fill out ... No concept yet, just a thrower. Johnson is like a box of Cracker Jacks, there's a surprise inside. Our only problem is whether or not we will like the surprise. He's a boom or bust. Long way to go yet. Has no pitching mechanics ... With his long arms could eventually bury all left-handed hitters. A real gamble.

Drafted: Braves, fourth round (went to USC).
This one is easily my favorite. 'Stork-like body...' -- Awesome. What kind of jerk puts that in a report. Do people do that at other jobs? Can you imagine Stan in Sales writing a report to his boss that included something like, "Sales figures were up last quarter as the encyclopedia's were selling like hotcakes. We would have sold even more if that doughboy, lard-ass Johnson could take a break from shoving krullers in his mouth long enough to knock on a few more doors..." Anyway, physical descriptions aside, it's pretty accurate (although I could have done without the cracker jacks simile).

It's interesting to see what scouts thought at the time and actually how these players turned out. Based on the scouting reports in the story, most of the assessments were right on. Who needs Moneyball when you have ornery old scouts making the big-money decisions?