Scouting – Roy Smith
A week ago I went on a week-long scouting mission. During that week, which was spent watching both minor league and big league games, often I got asked questions by fans in the stands about what exactly I am doing. Therefore, I thought I would explain what it is that the scouts are doing when you see them behind the plate at a ball game.
Generally speaking, there are two types of scouts – free agent/amateur scouts whose primary function is to watch college and high school games to scout players who they want to draft in June, and professional scouts whose job it is to watch and report on Major League and minor league games.
At a Major League game, those professional scouts are there for one of three reasons. One reason would be that they are there to cover and report on an entire team. Each of our professional scouts are assigned a certain number of teams prior to the season. It is their job to scout and file a report on every player on those teams. They enter those reports on their computer and it goes into our professional scouting database.
Another reason a scout may be at a game would be because the team that he works for may be having trade discussions with a team and he might be sent to watch that team for a number of days to report on certain players or to help decide between two or three players who have been offered in a trade.
The third reason would be to "advance" one of the teams playing the game. An advance scout watches the team that his club plays next and reports on tendencies, individual strengths and weaknesses and a host of things that help his team prepare for that upcoming series. For example, Mark Weidemaier is the Dodger advance scout.
His report will include a pitcher’s velocity and movement on all his pitches, any patterns that the pitcher has, the time a pitcher takes to throw the ball to the plate for our base runners, batters strengths and weaknesses, running times to first base, the arm strength of every player on the field, managers’ tendencies (when he bunts, who does he hit and run with and on what counts, etc.), and many more.
Advance scouting is one of the toughest forms of scouting and in Mark, we feel like we have the best in the business.
In the Dodger organization, we have nine scouts who are strictly professional scouts. These men are consulted on trades and have a lot of interaction with Ned Colletti, Kim Ng and myself. After the June draft, we also have our free agent scouts go out and scout minor league and big league games. It is important for these scouts to see professional games not only for coverage purposes, but also to keep their minds attuned to what it is they are looking for in amateur players.