SHANKS: Can you tell me about Nate Pudewell?
HOSTETLER: I signed a kid right after the draft out of an independent league that I had in for the draft. Nathan is a big, 6'7" right-handed pitcher who played shortstop in high school and college. He was 6'3" and from the time he turned the middle of 21 until now he's grown four inches. I didn't know anything about the kid, and a friend of mine that lives over in El Dorado Hills area, where Nate's from, called me and told me, ‘Hey this kid's got a great arm, but we're not going to sign him.' He worked for the Blue Jays. He said, ‘Our guys want stats on him, since we're a stat team.' So I said, ‘Well yeah that's interesting.' The day that he called me I got a letter from our office that Nate sent to our office asking for a tryout. So I figured that with two things in one day I ought to at least give him a chance. So I go over and work him out and off of an indoor mound on one day's notice, the day before he left to go down to Arizona for the Independent League Spring Training, he was 93-95. He had a heavy fastball with a good split-finger. I'm sitting there just drooling at the fact that this kid is 6'7" and he can throw this hard. So he had to go through the draft because he had enrolled in school for the fall and then dropped out. So he had to go through the draft. Roy (Clark, Braves' Scouting Director) did a great job of monitoring it to see if we had draft him or we didn't have to draft him. He kept close watch on Toronto and San Diego, the teams that had seen him. So it didn't look like anyone was going to draft him. So we laid low. Then after the draft, Roy called me and said, ‘Hey if you want to sign him, let's get him done.' So the next day we got him signed and he was out to Orlando.
SHANKS: So he could have been drafted?
HOSTETLER: Yes he could have been drafted.
SHANKS: And we could have drafted him?
HOSTETLER: Yes we could have even drafted him.
SHANKS: So Roy was taking a gamble, but he had to feel confident that no one would take him?
HOSTETLER: Exactly. Roy did a great job of monitoring whether those other teams we taking a lot of draft and follows and stuff like that. I was getting a little antsy, but I wasn't going to call Roy. I was letting him do his job. Right after the draft Roy called me and said, ‘Hey don't think I forgot about your boy. Let's get him done. Let's get him an offer.' So I called the kid. It's so funny because all three houses I went into sign each father in each house said they couldn't be happier with their son going to pitch for the Atlanta Braves. I made a comment to Roy about Nate: ‘If we tweak with this kid's mechanics a little bit, just stand him up a little bit taller, and let him throw downhill, this kid might throw 100 mph. This kid has a big arm. He's a big kid. I just found out when I signed him that his brother was also a late bloomer. His brother grew like five inches and put on like 100 pounds from the time he was 22 to 24. So the whole family is kind of that way. We kind of hope we hit lightning in a bottle. He's got a great arm.
SHANKS: So the Blue Jays said they couldn't sign him because they didn't have any stats on him. He's a 6'7" who throws 93-95 and they passed on him anyway?
HOSTETLER: They passed on him because they told their area scout that he wasn't their type of guy because they didn't have stats on him. That's what makes the Atlanta Braves so great – we'll give those guys a chance. Kerry Ligtenburg – I told Nate that Kerry was an independent league guy. This kid has got a chance. As excited as I am about Lyman and Quinonez, and I love those guys, I'm so intrigued with what Nate Pudewell can do, just because of the fact that he's so raw and there are a whole lot of innings left in that arm. I talked with his pitching coach with the Independent League, and in his last start he broke four bats in one inning. That league has got some pretty good players. I asked his pitching coach, Jon Warden, ‘Do you think he's got a chance?' He said, ‘Well let me put it this way. He's a diamond that's real rough, but he's a diamond in the rough that you've got to watch.'"
SHANKS: But again, you've got to wonder what he might do in our pitching environment?
HOSTETLER: Exactly. Exactly. If he's going to make it, and I told his dad this, he's going to make it with this organization. With our track record, and the way they develop arms, he's got a chance. That's why I was so excited about it.
Bill Shanks has a new book out on baseball scouting and player development philosophies called Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team. Bill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Braves' Scout Intrigued By Pudewell
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