Scouting 101: Stan Meek

Year round, scouts from each organization are looking for players that will one day contribute at the big league level. But, scouting is also a highly inexact science, one that has many theories and important lessons. In our fourth installment of Scouting 101, we talked with Marlins' Scouting Director Stan Meek. When scouting a prospect for the draft, what is the most important thing to keep in mind when judging his abilities?

Stan Meek: What kind of make-up he has and the usability of his tools. Projection is an intangible that must be hard to gauge. What are some ways that you can spot a projectable player and who are some players that you can remember that were drafted more so on projectability than anything else?

Stan Meek: Projection guys are usually people whose actions you like but aren't strong enough to make their tools play where you need them to yet but you like the way their body or arm works. When looking at a high school player, what would you say is the hardest tool to scout and why?

Stan Meek: The intangible tool - makeup, or power. I think we really get fooled on game power with the high school hitter. It's easy to fall in love with pure tools and athleticism. How hard is it to tell the difference between an athlete with baseball skills and a guy with tools that may never be able to turn it into on field success?

Stan Meek: The athlete with baseball skills should play but the guy with tools but marginal feel to use them is a longer shot to become a player. Aluminum bats create a big challenge. What's the best way to tell if a player can be successful in switching to wood bats? What do you look for in his swing?

Stan Meek: A guy whose hands work in the swing-his hand path is direct, short to the ball and doesn't cast the bat away from him has a chance to hit. And, the faster the bat with less effort the better. Compare makeup to pure skills. How much does makeup play into an evaluation of a player?

Stan Meek: Very few good Major League players have bad makeup. A plus-plus tool is rare. How often do you see it among amateur players and does one plus-plus tool make an elite prospect?

Stan Meek: One plus-plus tool doesn't make an elite prospect unless it is the right tool. We probably see plus-plus speed or pure arm strength more than anything else and neither one alone makes an elite prospect. A phrase used a lot is that if a player can hit, he can hit. When you see an amateur player with mechanical flaws but he manages to still be an effective hitter, does that still apply?

Stan Meek: Yes, hitters come in different packages but the good ones can just hit. You just have to believe their swing will work with wood. In your opinion, what separates an elite top 10-15 pick talent from the rest of the pack? How much of a difference is there between those guys and 2nd and 3rd round picks and how are you able to determine those elite talents?

Stan Meek: A top 10-15 pick usually has a bigger package of tools and ability to use them than the rest of the country at the time we take them. If a 2nd or 3rd rounder out-performs a top 10-15 pick, which often happens then we probably missed on the 2nd or 3rd rounders tools, didn't project them right, or missed on their makeup, ability to use what they had. Or we overestimated the higher prospect's ability to use the tools we saw. In an amateur pitcher, what typically takes priority in a scout's mind, stuff or command? Which players can you remember with the most impressive pure stuff?

Stan Meek: For me it depends on what the now stuff or command is compared to the now body type, arm action and delivery. But generally with college guys I will take stuff because we usually can sell it to another club if it doesn't work for us. I would be more inclined to go with command with the high school guy if I like the body, arm action and delivery because projection will help the overall future stuff. Josh Beckett, Mark Prior and sadly, Jeff Allison who we took are some of the better pure stuff guys I have seen. Players tend to get draft-itis leading up to the big event. How hard is it for you to look past a lack of performance and see a player's skills?

Stan Meek: The tools are the tools but a lack of performance affects us more as scouts probably proportionately to how much history we do or don't have on a player. Many of us who had not seen much of Ryan Howard in college missed on him because he struggled so much as a junior; he swung and missed a lot. On draft day, there are obviously hundreds of player your team would like draft and dozens that you'd like to select early. What types of things become determining factors when choosing between a number of players? Can you think of any of those decisions in recent memory that you could attribute to excellent scouting an evaluation of a player's skills?

Stan Meek: Tools, makeup and signability. We took two guys in 2002, Josh Johnson and Scott Olsen in the 4th and 6th rounds, guys that now make up part of our big league rotation that some people looked by, one because his stuff was just fair and the other because he had a mechanical flaw that people didn't like. But, we had some history on both of these guys, knew their makeup and believed both would eventually be what they are today. Our scouts did a good job on both of them.

Pinstripes Plus Top Stories