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August 15, 2014

What Scouts Are Saying

August 15, 2014

by Baseball Prospectus

Many of our authors make a habit of speaking to scouts and other talent evaluators in order to bring you the best baseball information available. Not all of the tidbits gleaned from those conversations make it into our articles, but we don't want them to go to waste. Instead, we'll be collecting them in a regular feature called "What Scouts Are Saying," which will be open to participation from the entire BP staff and include quotes about minor leaguers and major leaguers alike.

Major Leagues

Orioles 1B/3B Chris Davis: “His timing is off; his hands and wrists aren't working; he's a mess. It's to the point where you hope he's been playing with some sort of undisclosed injury this year, because even the batting practice displays are uncomfortable.”

Nationals OF Bryce Harper: "He's only 21 years old and there is a lot of talent there, but we are starting to reach the point where there may be cause for concern. He has not had a good year, and his hitting mechanics are all screwed up. It's as if he is almost jumping at the ball. He comes out of his swing so hard and fast. He plays out of control all the time, in every facet of his game, and it's clear he has become a distraction to Matt Williams. It would not surprise me if they end up trading Harper for a young arm and hold on to Denard Span."

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20 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links


I am astonished that a scout actually thinks the Nats might trade Harper. There is a 0.0 percent chance of that happening. That's just a room full of crazy.

Aug 15, 2014 06:47 AM
rating: 6

Maybe the scout didn't know that Harper hit .272/.353/.481 in 1,094 PA as a 19-20-year-old MLB player, and he's just now seeing Harper play for the first time.

Maybe he thinks that the .233/.324/.372 that Harper has put up in the 149 PA since coming back from mid-season thumb surgery is his true talent level, and that the previous 1,185 PA don't really count.

I don't know. Scouts can believe some crazy $#!%.

Aug 15, 2014 06:59 AM
rating: 3

I don't know quite how to phrase this, but I'd actually be very interested to hear some of the BP team react to these quotes. I understand that these scouts are professionals who do their job at a very high level and that the folks at BP may ultimately feel unqualified to quibble with such opinions. I furthermore understand that any analysis that appears to throw scouts' opinions under the bus could undermine BPs' access to more of these takes. But having seen Justin Upton and Colby Rasmus and other extremely talented players get traded when public opinion was that it would be absurd to do so...I wonder if the dynamic nature of human beings and baseball players isn't such that maybe the scout is more right about Harper than it seems. And maybe the guy is just full of shit. But as someone who is in absolutely no position to speculate on such things, I'd like to hear speculation from voices I trust.

Aug 15, 2014 08:44 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Harry Pavlidis
BP staff

I'm not on the prospecting side, but I would have a lot of follow-up questions for that scout before I printed that statement. Because it seems to ignore a lot of things.

Aug 15, 2014 09:25 AM
BP staff member Joe Hamrahi
BP staff

We're providing these quotes to give the perspective that a lot of people in the industry have extremely different and varying thoughts on players. That's the goal. This isn't an article on our opinion or the value of Harper. It's to show what others in the business think. And for what it's worth, this particular individual wasn't the only one who didn't have a glowing review of Bryce. I caution people too...there's a lot more information people "in" the game know than the public or even us at BP. I'm pretty sure nobody expected a number of the guys at the deadline to be dealt either (like Cespedes), but they were.

Aug 15, 2014 10:04 AM

Thanks, Joe. This is absolutely the kind of information that I'd like to see. Harper is such a high-profile -- and, apparently, polarizing -- player, that I'd love to see a longer poll-the-industry type piece about him....

Aug 15, 2014 13:49 PM
rating: 2

LOL. Let's step back from the ledge, folks. I greatly appreciate these varying perspectives. One scout saying he "wouldn't be surprised" if Harper is dealt is still a far cry from any consensus that such a trade is likely.

I'd bet there's at least one scout out there who isn't bullish on Clayton Kershaw's near future. Opinions are gonna vary.

Thanks, BP. I can't get enough of this stuff.

Aug 15, 2014 12:15 PM
rating: 0
The Game Is On

"I greatly appreciate these varying perspectives … no matter how stupid they are." There, I fixed it for you.

Aug 15, 2014 14:17 PM
rating: -3

The thing I don't get is the "for young pitching part". Because A.J. Cole and Lucas Giolito isn't enough. Nor is getting Doug Fister for nothing.

Aug 15, 2014 07:55 AM
rating: 0

If I was a betting man, I would say it's more likely the Nationals get rid of Matt Williams than Bryce Harper.

Aug 15, 2014 08:05 AM
rating: 3

I could understand it if they were getting a boatload of major league talent right now. I mean if I came up and offered the Nationals Stanton and Heaney.

Or that that "young pitcher" happens to be Chris Sale + more.

It really depends what the Nats think about him. They'll need to trade him by 2017-2018. And their window is from now to 2017. If you think they could get a package that is worth more to them in the short term, I could understand the logic.

Aug 15, 2014 10:21 AM
rating: 0

I think that's well said. Obviously timing and return are important. What I should have said in my original flabbergasted snarky comment was that I couldn't imagine such a trade happening in the near term. 2017? 2018? Maybe, if they don't think they have any chance of resigning him. But the Denard Span reference made me think the scout wasn't talking that far down the road (and, if this scout WAS talking about the Nats keeping Span instead of Harper after 2017, when Span will be 33, let's just say that doesn't strengthen my opinion of the scout's insight) Trading Bryce Harper for "a young arm" in the next season or two is kind of a silly suggestion.

Aug 15, 2014 10:57 AM
rating: 0

My point was the exact opposite:
Desmond is gone in 2016.
Doug Fister is gone in 2016
Zimmermann is gone in 2016.
Strasburg is gone in 2017.
Go Gonzalez is gone in 2017
Jayson Werth is old
Ryan Zimmerman is injuried all the time.
They stop receiving revenue sharing in 2016.

The Nationals should probably try to go for it in 2015-2016. If they have concerns about Harper's health,makeup, or development, they could trade Harper for a Stanton or Sale that is more of a sure thing to provide value in the 2015-2017 seasons.

I'm not saying it would be a good move, it would be very risky and you'd look foolish if Harper performs. But if Harper disappoints and the pieces you got back for him bring you to the playoffs for a few years and maybe a flag, it could be worth it. I think the Justin Upton comp and maybe a Jason Heyward ones are good. They are very very good players that looked like MVPs. I love Harper and he is still young, but he isn't an MVP yet. As we are seeing with Trout, getting older might not be the good thing as defense gets worse and speed disappears. Harper could be Giancarlo Stanton in two or you could have Giancarlo Stanton for two years.

Aug 15, 2014 11:45 AM
rating: 0

I realize you can't just induce quotes out of thin air, but damn if I wouldn't just love to see this as a weekly column with more insights on major leaguers.

Aug 15, 2014 07:35 AM
rating: 8

It should be noted that Buxton had fanned all three times he batted before the collision. He also unleashed an awesome throw to nail a base stealer attempting to go to 3rd on an wild throw

Aug 15, 2014 08:03 AM
rating: 0

Why should the K's be noted? First three PAs at a new level, also, in a game with 13 total strikeuts for Baysox pitching.

Aug 15, 2014 09:13 AM
rating: 0

When Harper was drafted the Pirates, who picked 2nd insisted he was not the first guy on their board. They took Taillon (who hasn't been in the biggs yet) number 2.
Did they know something that nobody eles knew?

Just sayin'...

Aug 15, 2014 12:47 PM
rating: 0

I don't know a single person that believed the Pirates when they said that.

Aug 15, 2014 16:00 PM
rating: 3

I think pretty much everyone in the game would prefer Bryce Harper to a likely mid-rotation starter who hasn't reached the bigs and is currently rehabbing from Tommy John, so, no, I don't think they did know something that nobody else knew.

Aug 18, 2014 02:09 AM
rating: 0

Awesome stuff, as always! Thanks Team BP!

Aug 16, 2014 08:49 AM
rating: 0
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