Braves' California Scout Loves Lyman

BravesCenter's Bill Shanks continues his coverage of the 2005 Amateur Draft with a discussion with the Braves' California scout. Nick Hostetler scouted and signed the Braves' second round pick, right-hander Jeff Lyman.

SHANKS: Tell me about Jeff Lyman.
HOSTETLER: The big thing with him, more than anything, was that as an organization we liked his makeup. I compare him makeup-wise to Jeff Francoeur. He's just a great kid. He's going to work hard. He's a professional kid. It's kind of tough to find the guys that want to play and that not only have the tools, but also are top of the line kids as well. Don't get me wrong, a 95-mile an hour fastball helps, but the makeup really put me over the edge with him. He's a big, strong kid. There's still some projection there. He's a big, strong kid built similar to a young Roger Clemens. He has a good feel for pitching. He's not afraid to pitch. He's going to come right after you.

SHANKS: How long have you been following Lyman?
HOSTETLER: I saw him for the first time at the East Cobb showcase in Marietta, Georgia. I saw him pitch two or three times there. I think the first time I saw him throw was the middle of July. Our guys, Hep Cronin, Kurt Kemp, and Paul Faulk, had actually seen him pitch in Florida two weeks before that. They sort of gave me the heads up on him. So it was good for those guys to see him as well.

SHANKS: And when did you see him at the showcase?
HOSTETLER: Back in July.

SHANKS: And you are a new scout with the Braves, correct?
HOSTETLER: Yeah I originally started with the Braves up in Ohio. Then I went to the White Sox for three years down in the south, and then came back home with the Braves.

SHANKS: So when someone like Hep Cronin says to follow this guy, you follow him, right?
HOSTETLER: I'm on him. I'm on him right away. Hep Cronin, Kurt Kemp, and Paul Faulk have so much experience, so what they say is gospel to me. Those are the guys I truly respect. Anytime they give me a name I'm going to see them that's for sure.

SHANKS: Stuff-wise what does Lyman have?
HOSTETLER: He's got a slider. At this point in his career right now he's just trying to get a feel for how to throw it. It was a little inconsistency early, but it's gotten progressively better as the year went on. He also throws a split-fingered fastball right now that he's actually going to end up switching into a changeup. He needs to develop a changeup. We're probably going to ditch the split.

SHANKS: Makeup-wise, what does it mean with Lyman? Why is he a Braves-type guy makeup-wise?
HOSTETLER: I think for me personally the big thing with makeup with Jeff, especially with a kid this far from California that has to go and play his whole career across the country you really need a kid that's going to be able to do that. A kid that's going to be mentally mature enough to handle being that far away from his family. You call some kids and you get a little bit of nervousness with them, being almost scared to talk with scouts, almost being short with scouts because they just don't understand it or they just don't have those skills. Jeff was a kid you would call at any point in the night or the day and he wanted to talk. He wanted to talk to you. He wanted to talk baseball. To me, to have a kid like that that is so outgoing and so open, you know you're not going to have a problem with him meshing in well with teammates. That was big for me.

SHANKS: And that's hard to find sometime, isn't it?
HOSTETLER: Oh it is. In my five years scouting, the only kid I can compare his makeup to is Francoeur.

SHANKS: And you saw Francoeur? You scouted him?
HOSTETLER: Yes my first year in the south with the White Sox was McCann and Francoeur's year.

SHANKS: It's easy for Roy Clark and Al Goetz to get the kids from the south to look forward to joining the Braves, but as a scout in California how do you do that? Do the kids out west want to be with the Braves as well?
HOSTETLER: You know it's funny with some of the kids it doesn't really affect, especially in the Bay area when you've got two big league clubs. Most of these kids grew up either Giants or A's fans. It was kind of weird going into many of these kids' homes because they're Giants fans or A's fans and they have been their whole life, kind of like in the south with the Braves. But with Jeff, he was a Braves fan. He kept talking to me about how much he enjoyed watching them. I can't say enough about how much the success of the Braves and TBS and them being televised across the country helps us. The one thing I do know from working with another club and then coming over to this one is it's a little bit different when you walk in and you say you're from the Braves. There is an aura and a mystique about it. I don't know if I realized it the first time I was with the Braves until I left and worked for another club and I'd walk into a house and say I was with the White Sox. I just wouldn't get that same reaction. Now that I'm out here, a million miles away from Atlanta, and when I say I'm with the Atlanta Braves and there's some instant respect.


Bill Shanks has a new book on baseball scouting and player development with the Braves as the main focus. "Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team" is available at your local bookstore and online. Bill can be reached at thebravesshow@email.com.


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