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An Open Letter to Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer

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June 6, 2011

Dear Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer,

It’s been fun watching you guys every so often on Friday nights and Saturday afternoons for the past three years. The best thing about having you throw hard all those days, for me at least, was that I had a major league caliber power arm against which I could scout hitters. It was awesome. If I wanted to like a hitter, I would watch how he responded against you guys, and it was like dropping the hitter into Dodger Stadium. I’ve seen fear in kids who face you and I’ve seen fearlessness. The kids who were scared are back home now. The kids who weren’t are in the minors. This has always been most helpful for me and I hope Savage has another two guys to help me do the same in the next three years.

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The Last .400 Hitter

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November 14, 2010

The last .400 hitter died the day before the Giants won the World Series, an exit worthy of a graceful ballplayer vanishing into the dugout a few hours before the final out.

Artie Wilson’s career can and should serve as an example for aspiring baseball players, regardless of race, social class, and opportunity. The reason is simple. As a black baseball player in an era when baseball did not want players of any ethnicity, Wilson had the rare gift of never letting the outside world influence him.

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What I learned in Scout School

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October 18, 2010

It’s not very often that I would go so far as to dedicate a column on this website to discuss something I would prefer not to discuss in public: myself. But for the benefit of the readers and the overall credibility of this site, it’s time to make a rare exception to the rule.

I have recently returned from two weeks in Arizona, having completed the Major League Baseball Scout Development Program, or in street slang, “Scout School.”

Not everyone can get in and not everyone does get in. You need a strong reference from inside the industry. In my case, I had several, far beyond the area scout level. Some might think that I write this site by the seat of my pants. These people have never walked where I have in this game. Those who I have built great relationships with, in part because of this site, know how dedicated I am to doing this right. One thing you have to understand about scouting is that no two methodologies for collecting information are exactly alike and no two opinions are always alike. The reason is that there are no two baseball players exactly alike.

What has to be in common is a strong grounding in the basics, but it is my opinion that in the baseball industry as whole, there are those who make this much harder than it is. The scout school tries to get it back to basics, and for that, they’ve got my respect.

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The First Annual Did Not Sign Team, Presented by Baseball Beginnings

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September 23, 2010

If you want to understand how and why college baseball has become so powerful and influential, take a look at the first annual Baseball Beginnings DNS list. In old school scouting parlance, DNS stood for Did Not See, but here, it stands for Did Not Sign.

When you get into why a high school player did or did not sign, you usually run into the street-fight mentality that prevails in amateur baseball. Some people call it politics. I call it what it is. It reminds me of 1930s Chicago. I know a street war when I see one.

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Even the Yankees Try To Go Home Again

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June 27, 2010

You can tell what the Yankees are thinking. At some point, they need to think about replacing Derek Jeter at shortstop. Of course, just because another guy will play short in the future doesn’t mean you replace Jeter. But the Yankees, every now and then, go back to their roots and look for athletic high school players with tremendous upside. Yet there is one danger in this – don’t take away what a player does best just to fill an organizational need.

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Catching Ignorance: You Don’t Get What You Don’t Pay For

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June 16, 2010

For months on end, we heard how catching was at such a premium in this draft that good young catchers would have value. When push came to shove, that’s not how the 2010 draft played out for three Southern California catchers, Stefan Sabol, Jake Hernandez and Aaron Jones.

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Why “Bonus Baby” is a Derogatory Term

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June 7, 2010

Today is the Baseball Draft and I thought I’d share with you a history lesson about the phrase “Bonus Baby,” where it came from, and why, to this day, it is considered every bit as much a derogatory term for a ballplayer as is the crudest name you can imagine someone calling you.

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Why We Don’t Do Mock Drafts

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June 7, 2010

Here at Baseball Beginnings, we generally abhor the mock draft. The reason is because this is not the way the real baseball world works. For the last week around Major League Baseball, scouting directors have summoned their area scouts to put all players on the big board. The players are organized by their Overall Future Potential Grades (OFPs), but this number is only a road map, a debating point, and not the final destination.

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Requiem for a Baseball Man

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January 12, 2010

John Stevenson was one of the best minds I have ever met in amateur baseball. In his community in El Segundo, California, he coached for 50 years and made the playoffs 42 times. He ran practices like clockwork. He never cared where a guy would get drafted, but he wanted each guy to have success in and out of baseball. John never got caught up in the trappings of professional baseball. Business cards did not impress him. He was a teacher at heart.

Stevenson, who passed away Monday at age 76, won 1,000 games here in Southern California. For those of you around the country, I’d like to share a story I wrote about Stevenson in 2007, a tribute to a baseball guy.

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The Risk Factors of Aroldis Chapman

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January 2, 2010

“Swish” was Bob Thurman’s nickname, long before it was a shoe logo. Thurman was a left-handed hitting outfielder and pitcher who played for the Homestead Grays in the last Negro League World Series in 1948. When he signed with the Kansas City Monarchs and eventually found his way to the major leagues with the Cincinnati Reds, he had changed his age more than his socks.

 “I have had my age put back so many times,” an amused and demurring Thurman wrote, “I can’t remember my real age.”

There is humor in history, but a lesson to be learned for today’s Major League teams that pursue Cuban left-hander Aroldis Chapman. 

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