Scouting 101: Buying an Injury

Scouting 101: Buying an Injury. How MLB teams view injuries in players and prospects

Whether it's the Dodgers or another Major League team, the goal is to find, draft,develop and play, healthy players with the best tools. We all know what the tools are, and we all know what what type of physical size of a player creates success., but how does an in jury affect this equation.

Buying an injury is a term used in baseball to describe valuing a players financial worth and reliability based on either a past injury, or a possible future injury. When a team is looking to spend hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars on an unproven young player, they want to know hat they are getting. Does a player play other sports or baseball year round? Does he take time off? Who trains him? What is his workout routine? Players and parents always talk about how great a player feels, or if he is hurt, that he is a gamer playing through an injury. Some studies show that the factors that cause Tommy John can start as early as pre-teen. Travel ball and little league coaches with little experience but something to prove, promote overthrowing, throwing multiple pitches and changing of armslot to hopefully get a desired result. These changes and overuse often times are the beginning of our arm injury calculation

When several factors have been calculated, the equation starts to take shape. A player may have been lucky enough not to have an injury yet, but could it be inevitable? How nmuch is an athlete worth who has played baseball 50 weeks a year since he was 10 years old, with a private hitting and pitching coach and a cage in his backyard. Versus the kid who played spring and summer baseball and had some private instruction, enough to get him in the right direction. The second case scenario might be in a healthier position to develop safer in the minor league farm system of a team and possibly the team is willing to spend more time and money on this investment. Remember, teams don't lookat a player from the eyes of a parent, grandparent or friend. Players are a commodity to be developed, used and traded. I may sound cold saying that but it is the truth.

Another interesting dynamic is how college coaches contribute to this equation. The assumption is that college coaches must know more and know better, but this is not always true. While many coaches are highly respected and interested in protecting players and focused on injury prevention, most coaches are not. Most college coaches are all about the W or the WIN.Win at all cost, including a players best interest. They are trying to keep a job not develop a player. I cannot tell you how many times I scouted guys who had pro tools and an opportunity to be drafted, but the coach didn't see it or only pushed his personal favorite player. The result is a good player who gets overused and put out there as a workhorse.

    Back to the the issue of buying an injury. Next year in the 2017 amateur draft, take this information to heart. Use it as a tool to understand why players get below slot money or go in a lower round, no matter how high the media hype was. Do some research and see if any of the factors I mentioned were a part of the players past.  jason rutherford


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