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September 30, 2013

Advance Scouting Series

Introducing the Advance Series

by Jason Parks

When we started the eyewitness scouting series at Baseball Prospectus, which focused on our in-person evaluations of minor league talent, it was quite common to receive questions about the scope of the series, specifically if we any intention of expanding it to include major-league talent. At the time, I wanted to keep the focus on the minor-league side, maturing that series in the hopes of creating a product delicious enough to satisfy the prospect appetite of our target audience. As the summer rolled on, I started exploring a more comprehensive scouting experience for the site, and with the help of several industry contacts, started to build a construct of a new series, one focused on major-league players.

Using the basic framework of a major-league advance report, we wanted to take a recent seven- to 10-game sample—or around 30-50 at-bats—and break down what a hitter is doing, why a hitter is doing it, who a hitter is doing it against, and the means to exploit the weaknesses in the offensive profile versus both left-handed pitching and right-handed pitching. It’s a very labor-intensive exercise, and requires that we form a legally recognized union with MLB.tv, complete with rings and a precious ceremony, but the process has been the most rewarding experience I’ve had as a baseball writer. Breaking down every pitch thrown to a player over the course of the sample has taught me more about tendencies and ticks of a hitter than ever before, and even though it’s a different form of scouting that what I’m familiar with, it has made me a better evaluator as a result. I’m really proud of the process and the finished product, and it’s my sincere hope that you feel the same. Today we introduce the series with reports on Andrew McCutchen and Shin-Soo Choo.

Because of the labor involved—it took me around ~15 hours to produce my report on Yoenis Cespedes—we added three people to the prospect team to help kick off this series, which we will fold into our postseason previews and coverage starting this week. I’ll let their own words provide a proper introduction, but I couldn’t be happier with their participation and execution, and I look forward to their involvement with other projects going forward. Let’s meet and greet the new faces:

Tim Steggall is currently the Director of Baseball Operations at the University of Texas at Arlington while he works on his MBA and MA in Economics. Before taking this position, Tim played at nearly every level of organized baseball. He began his career at the DIII University of Puget Sound, before transferring to Central Arizona College, and finally to the DI University of Texas at Arlington for his junior year. After playing shortstop and centerfield for the majority of his career, Steggall signed with the Texas Rangers as a pitcher after the 2009 season. He pitched in the Rangers organization from 2009-2011.

Jeff Moore is a former college baseball player and coach who still holds three NCAA records from his playing days. Having traded in his fungo for a radar gun and a laptop a few years ago, his work now focuses primarily on prospects and player development. He is also the creator of MLB Prospect Watch. Moore resides in Delray Beach, Florida, which is every bit as awesome as it sounds, and he isn't ashamed to order a Bud Light in public.

Ron Shah made the journey across the country to Southern California after growing up in Queens, New York for 14 years. It was in the Big Apple where he took on the passion of the city when it came to his love for a good slice of pizza and baseball. Currently, Ron is lobbying for more hours in the day as a full-time college student who also helps run the family business. He uses the rest of his free (and occupied) time venturing into prospect/player development side of baseball, primarily scouting the California League and college/prep talents. You can follow Ron on Twitter @Rontrarian.

I can’t stress enough how helpful and influential our industry contacts have been in the creation and execution of this series, and even though they will remain hidden behind the curtains and in the shadows, I can’t thank them enough for the support, advice, and criticism they have provided along the way, even when that criticism walked the line between constructive and “Hey, this report is really poorly executed and I think I hate you and please stop calling me.” Simply put, this series wouldn’t have any legs without their help and my hat is tipped in their general direction.

You can see the first two examples of the advance scouting series here:

Andrew McCutchen
Shin-Soo Choo

Jason Parks is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Jason's other articles. You can contact Jason by clicking here

Related Content:  Scouting,  Advance Series

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