I love going to High School and American Legion baseball games. I go to evaluate the talent in the games as I try to pick out the most athletically gifted kid on the field, even if that kid is on a team that is getting beaten badly. I love to observe if he has “intuitive” baseball instincts to go along with the natural athletic physical gifts.
I was at a game recently and spotted a kid that impressed me. He fielded a short hop line drive at third base, turned and threw the ball to second, instinctively. Problem was that there was no force out at second and the base runner that was there advanced to third and the batter was safe at first. I was impressed with the kids fearlessness and reaction; but, had to question his mental focus by not knowing the situation. During the next inning the same kid made a spectacular play at third when he fielded a ball coming across the infield. He fielded the ball in front of the shortstop wheeled around, fired to first to get the out. He smiled, the shortstop pointed to him to acknowledge the nice play. I found the kid I wanted to observe.
When he came to bat the first time he spun his bat length wise in the on deck circle in his hand very nonchalantly, in a way that is hard to describe. I have seen people do it with pencils and pens, but not with a bat. This kid seemed really relaxed and I liked his mechanics of his swing. His first at-bat was to the second baseman who threw him out. I walked down the third base line to observe him more closely in the field. He didn’t seem to take the warm-up throws between innings very seriously and threw side arm. I wondered if his arm was hurting; or, if he had not warmed up properly before the game.
Even though the other team was pounding out a lot of hits, I was impressed with this kid’s instincts. He knew where he was to be in any given situation. I questioned how well he has been coached and how much “dirt time” he has had since his coaches weren’t very confident. I wanted to find out how he preformed when he knew someone was focusing on him. I asked about him when one of his teammates was retrieving a ball. I think he focused more on the game when he knew I was watching him. I wanted to give the, “I am a scout” impression. I think he started pressing more, I caught him looking at me when he was in the field. He seemed nervous, not as relaxed the next time at-bat and struck out.
He was moved to shortstop. I questioned why he was playing at double play depth when that wasn’t the situation. I heard him make a comment about the position not being his favorite and wasn’t comfortable there. He did field a tough ground ball when bases were loaded and threw home with an awkward throw. Even though, what I liked was he knew he didn’t have much time and it was a great effort. What I didn’t like was he hung his head afterward. I noticed that he was rubbing his arm after a throw and suspected that he didn’t have a very good warm up routine. When he ran to get into baseball positions, he seemed stiff. What I loved, he was always on the glove when he was relaying a throw. He seemed to have good arm strength but I worry that he will cause damage to it if he continues making hard throws without the proper warm-up. I didn’t get a good sense of his range since he was playing the shortstop position differently.
He seemed like a well-liked kid and had fun playing the game. He did smile and say something to a kid on the opposing team that hit a double that was close to being a home run. I personally love that kind of interaction. I would rate the kid high, one that could play at the next level. I was told he was 17 and going into his senior of high school. I don’t know what his grades are like, the level of involvement by his parents, or how much he has been coached. From my two hours of observation, I would tell him to warm-up properly, that eating right would improve his mental focus and to read about proper positioning for the situations in the field. I think he has leadership qualities for the team with some of the personality traits I observed. He is athletically gifted which was easy to see. But, desire and hard work are needed to continue. I am going to keep my eye on him. I did give him my card, he knows I am writing this.
I love evaluating players and I have learned what to look for. I have talked to a lot of scouts as I have mentioned in previous posts. A player can have jaw dropping ability with eye popping stats, but if one can’t preform under pressure, the player will be like the majority moving through the ranks. It is up to him and the passion he has for the game. I believe he has a couple things going for him, 1 – Athletic ability. 2 – He realizes it is a game and he is having fun playing it.
I hope you enjoyed this profile, it is the first time I blogged about this hobby of mine when I am out on the road. I will continue to do it if people like it! Let me know! If you enjoy this story and you would like to help me complete the “Baseball in America Tour 2014”, which is roughly 265 days, please click on the following link to see how you can help at www.baseballbuddha.com. Follow me on Twitter and like my Facebook page! Please share this on your Facebook page and Twitter. I appreciate all the help I can get!