This week in Jupiter, Florida, is high-school baseball central. Kids from any year in high school are on 'select teams' in town, playing against teams from all around the country. These games are very important from a scouting perspective. Amateur scouting directors league-wide are likely in attendance (if my Twitter feeds are correct, in golf carts) deciding and prioritizing which players deserve a third and fourth look. For many of these kids, this will be the best competition they see before college or the pros. I'm happy Cubs scouts are adding to their wealth of information this week.
I'm not posting any of what I'm hearing. Perhaps some of you would like specifics on a few of the options, So much information is flowing that it would be a full-time job to monitor what's going on. Without eyes on the fields (yes, fields, as in plural, and they start early), any commentary would have a low signal-to-noise ratio for a Cubs fan.
Nonetheless, I have a reason I'm dedicating an article to it this year: Other years.
I'm not sure how long this tournament has gone on, but since not much other baseball is going on, you might as well have most of your scouts in Jupiter. This is a main point of entry for young prospects. If, for instance, C.J. Edwards had played in a tourney like this, he'd have likely left the board well before the 48th round.
Without a doubt, doing well in Jupiter doesn't guarantee success as a collegiate or professional, but it certainly figures to help your exposure. And, your bonus. Or your scholarship offers.
It is taken as a given that the Cubs had fewer scouts than most of the teams through much of the last 50 years. As I'm not much of a fan of uncertainties, I'd like to know the specifics. But I probably never will. However, this is as good of a point as any to play one of my hypothetical games.
Let's assume incorrectly that the maximum number of scouts a pro team could have was 100. Obviously, I would expect teams to have more than that; some of them far more. But, for a moment, no more than 100 are allowed. The next step is to roll the clock back to whatever year, and the team employing the most scouts that year still has 100. All other teams have a percentage of that 100. If your squad employed 63 percent of the high in the league, that year, you have 63 scouts. Etcetera.
By no stretch am I sure where the Cubs would have fit in in (insert year here). However, for each fewer set of eyes, that is fewer looks that you get at these kids in Jupiter in the future.
How I imagine it works now this week is a few to six scouts from each team are monitoring each game. One is running the radar gun. One is charting where the pitches ended up. One is keying on the hitter. A few key defenders are singled out as well. Why, one wonders, would you need as many as 100 scouts?
Today, you don't. While many of the good ones are around Jupiter now, today isn't the important day. Many of these kids should already have dossiers. When (insert kid) from (insert school) is at 91 miles per hour with his fastball, a well-run system should know if that is an uptick or downgrade from the last time.
When you need hordes of scouts is in the spring. You will want a scout at every SEC game, with probably two each at some of the key Friday night games with college aces pitching. You probably want the same at Pac 12, ACC, and maybe some Big 12 games. You'll want to have some guys off checking out the other name conferences and smaller schools, as talent comes in Junior College or Division II sizes as well. You'll want to have some guys freelancing to cover players that might fall through the cracks.
Then, of course, there are high school games. And overseas. There are also interviews with the players, their family, and coaches. That a lefty can throw 89 as a high school senior isn't enough to know. Does he use drugs? Is he a troublemaker? Would he be likely to sign a pro deal for $100,000? Does he do well in practice?
You never want to waste a pick, but it happens at times. If a guy isn't mature enough to get himself out of bed for practice, you don't want him. If he is an absentee father a few times over, that ought to be a red flag. Knowing if a prospect is a fit for your system is very important. Talent and character both matter.
So, in those years when the Cubs skimped on scouting, what should they have disregarded? Back-histories? Small schools? Guys that expected to get paid well for signing? Actions have consequences, and Cubs fans have pretty much paid in full.
I'm reading the Twitter feeds, but I'm not putting together dossiers on 500 players. Perhaps I should, but I'm happy my team is doing so now. I'm also confident the people running the scouting department will take the info from Jupiter for what it is. Very important information along the way.
Ooooh, a new game just started on field three, and the starting pitcher has a scary looking....