Tyler Skulina, righthanded pitcher, 6-5, 252
Drafted in the fourth round in 2013
Probable landing spot in 2014: Low-A Kane County
Most of the Minor Parts articles are about my observations of a player, As I've seen Skulina pitch only three innings, and I've never had any proper video coverage of him on my computer screen (I wish Boise would re-join MiLBTV), I'll run it a bit differently today.
Skulina is from Kent State University in Kent, Ohio, and hails from Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. Five pro players are in the bb-ref database from his high school in Cuyahoga Falls. None have made it out of A-Ball. Northern players, especially pitchers, miss quite a bit of development time growing up. Fewer repetitions, means fewer scouts attending fewer games. And staying home, often, at northern schools.
Since those northern colleges tend to get fewer scouting eyeballs than their southern brethren, sometimes northern talent will slip during the draft. Especially to toolsy kids from Texas, Florida, or California. Arms that may be played out.
Nonetheless, I like watching college ballgames in February, March, and mid/late May. Especially the first inning of "Friday night games." College baseball is usually composed of a conference and non-conference season, like basketball and football. Unlike the other sports, the seasons run rather concurrently. Usually, teams have a weekend conference series, and a midweek game, usually on Tuesday. The weekend series is usually Friday through Sunday. The ace goes on Friday, normally. If I stumble into a webstreamed game on a Friday night between, say, Kent State and Ball State, NIU rivals in the Mid-American Conference, I'll probably see their two best pitchers. If the announcers are informative, and the pitchers get my attention, I might stick around. Many schools, understandably, expect fans to pay a fee to watch their games. Those aren't the ones I lean toward.
What I monitor is two things. First, I monitor the pitchers' early locations. If the catcher is having to dive in the dirt for pitches all the time, I'm not interested. I've seen enough of that already. In Low-A Ball before, when pitchers had no idea of location. However, if the announcer (who on audio or a video-webstream absolutely carries the production) is getting the job done, I might stick around if the pitcher throws strikes. The other important thing is the announcing crew.
Let's assume you want to be a baseball broadcaster for the local team. How do you keep my attention through three innings? If you can do that, I might be a semi-regular for four years. At least. I'll give you a few pointers, and the guys in the Cubs system are aces at the ones that apply.
*** Tell me what the pitcher features, with fastball velocity. Even if his fastball is 84 with the wind, I need to know this. I might turn away that night, but telling velocity is part of your job. If you have radar numbers, those live numbers help quite a bit as well. I won't hold it against you if your facility doesn't have a radar gun, but if the place you're in that night doesn't, cop to it up front.
Don't give numbers all the time, but if the starter on the other team fans your best hitter looking in a key spot, yeah I want velocity on the fastball. Even if it's off of a scout's radar gun. Or, if you're guessing, go with "That looked about 94, and we'll go to the sixth." At least, something along those lines. I'm listening for both sides, not just yours.
*** Speaking of scouts, if there are a few watching. tell me. You don't have to tell me where they are from. I'd imagine if a guy is decked out in Rangers gear with a speed gun right behind the backstop, it might be okay to acknowledge where he's from. But he might want to remain incognito, even though he's a walking advert. However, if you know for pretty certain that some scouts are here to watch the opposing starting pitcher, that will keep me intrigued. If you're doing your job well. I watched an insignificant game last season to possibly catch a reliever the scouts were in attendance for. He pitched. He was arright.
*** Be web-active. Many of your listeners come from on-line, not just the radio. I fully expect to listen to some East Carolina baseball this year, as their Friday night starter Jeff Hoffman might be the Cubs' pick. I'm hoping their radio crew is moderately web-savvy, and can answer an occasional question. I won't be a nuisance, but "Is the ump squeezing him?" is a valid tweet. And as I've learned, tweets can be answered without saying anything over the air.
*** Be who you are. I might enjoy your style or not. However, if you're going to be Sybil on-air, I doubt I will be back. Call the game, don't go off on screeds. If you're losing by eight, find something cheerful to talk about. If you're up eight, don't humiliate the opponent. I'm not listening for your commentary on the exchange rate between the US dollar and the yen, or what vapid show is on The WB om Tuesday night. Call the game. Be informative. Be entertaining. Be funny. Tell a few stories, especially about the other team's guys. Remember that some listeners have ulterior motives for listening, and throw us a bone now and again.
If I would have caught a well-announced Tyler Skulina game last year, I'd have probably heard he throws a 92-93 mile per hour fastball, with solid control, and solid secondary offerings. I probably would have heard that there were numerous scouts in attendance, and that he was retiring good hitters more easily than most pitchers were.
This would have hinted at Cubs scouts being in attendance, and that the team would love to see him still on the board early in the fourth round. That way, he might be the first prep from Walsh Jesuit in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio to make it to Double-A. Or, possibly, the majors.