Last night, I received my first lesson in scouting from an unlikely source: Keith Law of ESPN’s Scouts, Inc. I say unlikely, because Keith is generally regarded to be a stat-head. But, from the lesson I got, Keith didn’t seem to be doing much different than the scouts surrounding us.
When I arrived at the game, I saw the stands were full, which is not surprising for a Georgia high school baseball game. As I waited for the half-inning to pass before I found Keith, I saw two guys behind home plate pointing radar guns. I thought, “a few scouts are here to see this kid.” But, after he proceeded to walk the bases loaded, I realized he must not be the main target.
At the break, I located Keith and sat down. I soon found out that there were way more scouts than I had thought—they filled the stands behind the plate. The fans were sitting down the first and third base lines. As the opposing pitcher took the mound, I saw two-dozen radar guns go up, including Keith’s. “This is the kid everyone is here to see,” Keith informed me. The pitch, the mitt pops, the guns go down and tilt up so they can be read—89, 90, and 91 are on the guns I can see—then everyone starts scratching away in their notebooks.
Also, all of the scouts had stop-watches around their wrists to time the stretch and measure the speed of the batter from home to first. Note to prospects: even if you hit into an obvious out, run as hard as you can to first so that you can be timed. If you’ve never seen a gathering like this before, it’s a pretty cool experience.
Keith explained to me what he looks for in prospects and discussed a few minor prospects on the field—I won’t repeat his opinions here. Then we went over to the Mellow Mushroom for some pizza. We talked baseball, sabermetric gossip, jobs, family, and other odds and ends—we’re both 33-year-old libertarians who like Harry Potter.
If was a fun experience, and I have to say that Keith is a great guy. I want to thank him for inviting me to tag along. If you ever spot him at a game, I’m sure he’d be willing to chat with you if you approached him. I look forward to seeing his body of work grow at Scouts, Inc.