MLB scouts make pitch at Miller

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November 19, 2010

12:46 AM

In a presentation yesterday at Alan B. Miller Hall, two Major League Baseball scouts spoke about the inner facets of the baseball-scouting world.

Brad Fidler of the MLB Scouting Bureau and Bill Buck, an area scout for the Detroit Tigers, discussed the national pastime with a crowd of approximately 30 students. Alpha Kappa Psi, the College’s business fraternity, and the Sports Business Club jointly sponsored the presentation. Jason Storbeck, Alpha Kappa Psi’s Vice President of Professional Events, contacted the scouts through the College of William and Mary’s varsity baseball coaching staff.

“I played high school ball and I was interested to hear about the [scouting] process,” Storbeck said.

Now in his sixth year with the Scouting Bureau, Fidler also has scouting history with the Cleveland Indians as part-time scout, and the Los Angeles Dodgers as an associate scout. As an area scout for the Scouting Bureau, Fidler scouts amateur players in his assigned region of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. Providing reports for all 30 Major League teams through a Bureau database, his work is meant to serve as a first contact or a second opinion on high school and college prospects.

“In February when baseball season starts [for high school and college], I already know where I’ll be,” Fidler said. “I’ll be working every day up until May.”

Buck has 24 years of scouting experience with the Detroit Tigers as an area scout, New York Mets and Houston Astros as a part time scout, and the Baltimore Orioles as an associate scout. His scouting finds include pitchers Justin Verlander and Billy Wagner, and College alumnus Will Rhymes ’05. Working for an MLB team, Buck’s job covers the same area as Fidler’s as well as Delaware, New Jersey and West Virginia, yet differs by abstaining from impartiality.

“My goal is make the Detroit Tigers a better ball club,” Buck said.

Multiple factors weigh in to the evaluation process of a player. In addition to athletic ability, scouts conduct psychological tests and medical evaluations. Another important aspect of reports is the signability report, which judges the likelihood a player will sign with team or go to or stay in college. Home visits have become a relatively new aspect of signing prospects.

“We want to know what we’re investing money in,” Buck said.

There are 193 colleges in Fidler’s region, making it impossible to for him to visit every one. Scouts use contacts of coaches and other scouts to make up for lack of time in deciding if trip is needed for a player. Often players will only receive one visit, hinging a weight of importance on one performance.

“If a player has a bad day, then that’s a tough break,” Fidler said. “There is not enough time to keep seeing a player.”

The attributes scouts look for include both athletic skills to mental aspects. During the presentation, Fidler showed copies of actual scouting reports grading and commenting on anything from hitting ability and running speed to instincts and emotional maturity.

Amateur scouting efforts and evaluations go towards decisions teams make in the MLB draft, where each team claims college or high school players throughout 50 rounds of selections. Ultimately, the event also marks the unpredictability and difficulty of the scouting process.

“Less than half of first rounders play in the MLB,” Buck said. “[You] better be afraid to be wrong if you want to get into scouting.”

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