A Look At Historic Scouting Reports

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Well scouted. (via)

 
Padres
   
Dodgers (ss)
 
1:05pm PT
   
Glendale, Ariz.
CF
Venable
 
2B
Gordon
RF
Denorfia
 
LF
Crawford
1B
Alonso
 
SS
Ramirez
LF
Smith
 
1B
Gonzalez
C
Hundley
 
CF
Ethier
2B
Amarista
 
C
Federowicz
SS
Jackson
 
RF
Baxter
3B
Gonzalez
 
3B
Rojas
P
Urias
 
P
Demel

A few weeks ago, Daren Willman added another search database to his excellent Baseball Savant website. The new database searches through scouting reports found on the Hall of Fame’s archives. It makes it easier to sort through the reports by team. Obviously, my first instinct was to search for Dodgers. Below are some of my favorite reports from the list.

Clayton Kershaw – 3/11/2006 - Report Link

Best quotes: “Dead ringer for Dave Righetti at the same edge”, “Likes to hit, has some power, but is where he belongs on the mound”, “Fits nicely in first round”

I can’t do anything but smile when I read this report. I think the pitch grades in relation to each other are fun. The scout gave Kershaw’s curve, slider, and change-up the same present grades. He also projected Kershaw’s slider to be his best off-speed pitch in the future, which is interesting since Kershaw didn’t really develop the pitch in the majors until 2011.

Matt Kemp – 4/16/2003 - Report Link

Best quote: “He presents an interesting package… Tools are there and so is size and strength”

When he was in the minors, Kemp had the reputation of being an extremely raw athlete with a lot of potential in his tools. This scouting report, filed when Kemp was in high school, had the same conclusion. It’s fun that Kemp’s hit tool was only listed as a “30”, but the scout projected a big improvement. Knowing what we know about Kemp’s peak, it’s nice to think about how far he advanced from the low present grades on the report.

Gilbert Bodet, the same scout who wrote the report on Kershaw, also filed this one. He evaluated Kemp as a fourth to sixth round pick and the Dodgers managed to get him at the end of that range. How did they use the fourth and fifth round picks that year? They selected Xavier Paul and Jordan Pratt.

James Loney – 3/30/2002 - Report Link

Best quote: “His mechanics to hit are very similar to that of Garret Anderson who was the same kind of hitter as HS player”, “Also a LHP but did not see him that way”

This is another Gilbert Bodet report. He was pretty high on Loney’s talent at the time, especially his defense. In terms of overall hitting ability, comparing Loney (105 career wRC+ without late career decline) to Anderson (100 career wRC+ with late career decline) isn’t too far off, though Anderson did it without the huge platoon splits. Given Bodet’s low grades in other scouting reports, the future 75 that he gave to Loney’s defense sticks out quite a bit. Loney was always very good at first for the Dodgers, but probably not quite to that magnitude. The 30 grade on running speed is amusing, too.

This high of an evaluation of Loney seems to be a “miss”, but given the talent Loney showed during his trip through the minors (and occasionally in the majors), it doesn’t seem that bad. The Dodgers drafted Loney in the first round, higher than what Bodet suggested in this report.

Darren Dreifort – 1993 (multiple) - Link 1 - Link 2

Best quotes: “Throws an overpowering and explosive fastball with well above average ML slider”, “Become a closer out of the bull pen”, “could be youngest closing pitcher in ML history”

Both of these reports aren’t from the Dodgers, so they show some interesting insight on how other organizations viewed Dreifort. Both the Angels and the Royals viewed him as a closer, but Dreifort only ended up with 11 saves in the majors. Neither of the reports could have seen Dreifort’s injuries coming, though. The superlatives given to Dreifort’s fastball, such as “overpowering”, don’t quite match what we’d say about it today (87 to 92 per the Royals report). Times have changed. Both reports also said that Dreifort had the ability to jump straight to the majors, which he did.

 
Dodgers (ss)
   
White Sox
 
7:05pm PT
   
Glendale, Ariz.
RF
Puig
 
CF
Eaton
SS
Turner
 
2B
Beckham
1B
Van Slyke
 
1B
Abreu
3B
Uribe
 
RF
Garcia
C
Ellis
 
DH
Dunn
2B
Guerrero
 
LF
Viciedo
CF
Pederson
 
SS
Ramirez
LF
Figgins
 
3B
Gillaspie
P
Kershaw
 
C
Flowers

Mike Piazza – 4/15/86 - Report Link

Best quote: “A long way to come with overall ability but worth selection on bat and power”

Piazza was famously a 62nd round draft pick, but this scouting report seems more positive. The highlighted quote definitely seems like something that would be selected earlier. I found the “2” rating on Piazza’s hit tool to be interesting (as well as the future “4”, far below where he ended up). He was also scouted as a first baseman on this report.

Sandy Koufax – 5/15/1954 - Report Link

Best quote: “Not interested in pro ball until he graduates”, “also plays first because of his hitting ability”, “has averaged 16 strikeouts per game this season”

Koufax’s Wikipedia article briefly mentions this scouting report, saying it was filed away and forgotten. That’s baffling, given how positive the language is. Perhaps the Dodgers were less inclined to pursue Koufax due to the interest in schooling that is stated on the report. Koufax tried out for a few other teams before the Dodgers finally signed him, and we all know what happened after that. The high grades are interesting, given how rocky Koufax was at the start of his career.

I also enjoyed the line about Koufax’s hitting, but that ended up being fairly inaccurate. Koufax was a terrible hitter during his career (-4.2 oWAR), but he did manage two home runs.

Today’s split-squad double header features some fun news. Julio Urias is on the roster for the afternoon game and is scheduled to pitch one inning. Of course, that game is one of the only spring training games that the Dodgers will not be televising this year.

We are now less than a week from baseball that counts.

Update: The Dodgers have announced that Urias will be starting the game in Demel’s place. They have also confirmed that there will not be a webcast from Camelback (which the White Sox do sometimes). I guess we’ll have to wait for first-hand reports from Dustin and the other media in Glendale.


About

Daniel Brim grew up in the Los Angeles area and remains a Dodger fan despite currently residing in Salem, MA. As an engineer, he’s fascinated by the math and science behind the game of baseball, which probably explains a lot. He started “Blog To The Score” in late 2013 to dig deeper into the numbers behind the Dodgers. In its brief lifespan, it gained attention from local and national media. You can find him spending too much time in the comments section or on Twitter.