Make the call: Sign this player or not?

BravesCenter's Bill Shanks provides a scouting scenario to find out whether fans are statheads or traditionalists. Shanks's new book about baseball scouting and player development philosophies, "Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team," is the answer to "Moneyball," written two years ago about the Oakland A's and their reliance on statistical information.

Let's play "You Be The Scouting Director" for a moment. It's a game many fans like to play. So here's a scenario that I'd like all of you to think about. Give me your feedback on what you would do if you were a Scouting Director.

You have an area scout call you about a pitcher that he's discovered. Your area scout, whom you trust, tells you the right-handed pitcher is six-foot-seven and throws consistently at 93-95 miles an hour. The guy is 23 years old and he's grown four inches in the last year The pitcher has been in an independent league and for some reason has gone unnoticed. There are no skeletons in the closet; it's only a kid that has slipped through the cracks.

The scout tells you that the pitcher has excellent stuff, that the fastball really has life on it, and that the pitcher is projectable. But there is no significant statistical information to show what the pitcher has done in the independent league. All you have is the scout's word on what the pitcher looks like in the workout, which includes a fastball that is consistently in the low-mid 90's.

So what do you do? Do you allow your scout to sign the kid, hoping your farm system can slowly develop the pitcher and make him even better in the next two years? Or since there are no stats to prove what the pitcher has done in his independent league career and since his limited college experience has not produced decent stats, do you pass on him – even if it won't cost much money at all to sign him and bring him in your system?

What would you do? Would you sign him? Or would the lack of statistical information force you to pass?

In a couple of days, I'll share with you the details for this scouting story. But first, tell me what you would do as a Scouting Director.


Bill Shanks has a new book out on baseball scouting and player development philosophies. Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team is on the bookshelves now. Bill can be reached at thebravesshow@email.com

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