To help him through a week in Wilmington, Jason finds inspiration all around him.
When I travel I like to fall in love. That’s not to suggest I’m out on the road looking for lust, or creeping on any unsuspecting female that happens to find herself in my environment. Love for me is intrigue and inspiration, finding someone with a certain aesthetic quality that I can focus on without the tether of intimacy or even the necessity of communication. I am forever in a search for a diversionary muse, a person or thing capable of deflecting some of my thoughts away from the central task at hand. When I travel, I tend to overload the docket with baseball and baseball-related tasks; I think about the game on the way to the game; I watch batting practice and infield and then I think about batting practice and infield; I watch the game, I think about the game, I write about the game, I think about what I wrote about the game, and then I await the loop to reach its clasp and start all over again. Inserting a muse into this cycle grants my mind the freedom to dream, a distraction from a focus that at times can consume me. When I travel I like to fall in love. On the Greyhound bus from New York City to Wilmington, Delaware, I fell in love with a girl made of plastic.
I was standing at gate 75 in New York City’s Port Authority bus terminal, waiting for the clock to strike 11 am so I could board the bus to Wilmington and scout some Carolina League baseball, when an elderly Asian woman with more bags than body parts to carry those bags told the restive queue at gate 75 that the bus had already boarded at gate 68. This is why people hate life. This is also why people have cars. I rushed to the new gate, deposited my bag in the belly of the beast, and stepped onto the bus to locate a seat. I first noticed the girl made of plastic when I anxiously walked the aisle looking for an open seat, which was a panic attack with every step, much like finding a seat in a crowded junior high cafeteria when you aren’t cool or a movie theater fifteen minutes after show time. All eyes were on me and I felt like the last kid picked for kickball. I spot two open seats in the entire bus, one next to a man with substantial girth and a face and a smell that didn’t suggest kindness, and the other next to a girl who looked like a toy, complete with hardcover shell and a color palate designed to stimulate the eye of a child. She was in the window seat, with a translucent handbag resting in the free seat to her immediate right; her open-toed shoes and articulately painted pink nails accompanying the bag, acting as a deterrent for those seeking a place to sit. It was perfect.
The rest of this article is restricted to Baseball Prospectus Subscribers.
Not a subscriber?
Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get access to the best baseball content on the web.
A trip to see the Staten Island Yankees turns into an odyssey of self-discovery... with a scouting report thrown in for good measure.
I have already convinced myself that Angelo Gumbs is a better prospect than Cito Culver, and it’s only the third inning. Neither player has produced a remarkable result thus far, but the overwhelming feeling brewing in my gut tells me that Gumbs is the player to watch on the field. I shouldn’t listen to my gut; I should focus on the shortstop. Shortstops with true defensive skills are valuable commodities. But Gumbs could be a very good center fielder. He’s currently playing second base, but he could be playing center field. At present, the position is occupied by Mason Williams, who is equally promising (if not more so), but Gumbs could handle the defensive assignment, given his plus-plus athleticism, a strong arm, and instincts. My gut seems more loquacious than normal. My journey to the park might also be playing a role in the stomach discussion. A German tourist might have poisoned me.
I’m in the “scout section” of the park, which is really just another social clique that some happen upon based on their seating assignment, while others only recognize the section from afar. I don’t always want to be in a specific section; I like to bounce around the park, frequently looking for different angles and perspectives. But sitting with the players tasked with charting the game and with your contemporaries in the industry can have its advantages, especially when your gut is chatty and perhaps poisoned.
Some of what the mill cranks out proves to be true, but other stuff not so much as we near the July 2 signing window.
The Video Notebook
Now that I've presented 25 scouting reports for July 2nd prospects (here and here) along with videos of the top players (all of them which you'll find here), you may be wondering what I have to left write about, with all of the crucial information already written and still 10 more days until players can sign. First, the ranking of players is always changing, though I'm not going to edit that list just yet. If there's one thing I can tell you about this market, it's that something is always happening. Every call I make not only yields solid information and teaches me something new, but there's at least one off-the-wall item mentioned as well. Maybe it's a function of a maturing market where everyone isn't on the same page yet, or perhaps there's just more to be made from misinformation in a free market. Probably both, and some other factors, but rest assured, I have more than enough material. The trick is to figure out what is most legitimate, and of that, what is most important. I've been working the phones as the signing period nears, so here is your information dump, notebook-style.
A discussion about the art and challenge of scouting and player evaluation with long-time scout Tom Bourque.
With over 25 years in the scouting business, Tom Bourque knows how to evaluate talent on a baseball field. Currently a professional scout for the Cubs, Bourque has also worked for the Brewers, the Expos, and the Major League Scouting Bureau. Based in the Northeast, he has been in the Cubs organization since 1995. David talked to Bourque about learning to grade tools, why batting practice is important, and the value of makeup and pretty swings.
Sitting down to talk to the Twins' scouting director after the draft to talk about his organization's picks and overarching organizational philosophy.
The Twins have one of the best farm systems in baseball, and Mike Radcliff is a big reason why. The longest-tenured--and arguably the most respected--scouting director in the game, Radcliff has a long track record of successful drafts. The core of the Minnesota lineup--Justin Morneau, Joe Mauer, and Torii Hunter--are Radcliff picks, as are highly-touted pitching prospects Matt Garza, Glen Perkins, and Kevin Slowey. Radcliff joined the Twins organization in 1987, and has been the team's scouting director since 1994.
Nate introduces this year's PECOTA-based look at ranking prospects. Today, he lays out the methodology, which includes a few key changes to how he approached this project last year.
Last year, we ran our first-ever series of PECOTA-based prospect rankings. This wasn’t necessarily intended to be an annual feature, but it proved to generate a lot of good discussion, so here we are again.