My 27 Hours with Two Special Baseball People

From 9 am on March 26th to 12 PM on March 27th, I had the privilege of spending time with two special people. One man, Rico Brogna, was a former Major Leaguer; the other man, Gabriel Costa, is a Catholic priest and mathematician.

My 27 hour adventure begins with Rico Brogna’s visit to my baseball and statistics class at Quinnipiac University on March 26th. What follows in this posting is a summary of Rico’s presentation to my class on the scouting philosophy for one ML team. The first new thing I learned about scouting was that a ML team has two scouting departments. One department scouted only the amateur players; the other department was assigned to scouting the professional players. Rico scouted the professional players.

The team Rico scouted for had these scouting principles. They will not only identify a player’s athleticism and physical tools, but also his ability to consistently convert those tools into performance. They will measure the whole player as accurately as the individual parts. They will widen their scouting lens in an effort to identify the traits of winning players. These traits will include character, instincts, competitiveness, and consistency. They will evaluate all players (amateur, international and professional) on a grade scale that reflects what they believe their ultimate Major League value to be. They will consistently base their evaluations on what they believe a players’ sustained value will be at the Major League level rather than the more frequently used system of identifying what a player may be capable of only at his very best.This process will allow a team to properly assess a player with regard to both talent and monetary value. A player is rarely as good as his best day and as bad as his worst day. Therefore, they should attempt to identify no more than the level at which they believe a player will consistently perform.

The process of building a MLB roster should include these principles. A heightened value will be given to a durable and dependable starting pitching. The ability of a starting pitcher to handle the workload is vital to a team’s success. Starting pitchers as a group should generate 1,000 innings. A versatile bullpen is needed. They are aware of how usage has historically affected relief pitchers. Relief pitchers should be on shorter term contracts to allow the ball club greater flexibility. A premium value is placed on the hitter who couples patience and plate discipline with the ability to provide extra base power. A solid roster is built around a group of players who can be expected to share their most productive seasons in unison. These typical years occurred between the ages of 26-32. A model of success is built on drafting and developing your own players. An extreme value is placed on young, homegrown talent while also focusing on acquiring low cost players from outside sources via trades and waivers. The most effective way to produce long-term success is to have a long-term plan. The ability to estimate future team performance relies on the ability to project future personnel. The contract status and length of control for each player must be monitored.

To make their philosophy work the following MLB Scouting Grading Scale will be used: 20 is a “prospect” not yet MLB ready, 30 is an organizational player, 40 is an substitute (a utility player), 50 is the MLB average, 60 is consistently above the MLB average (an occasional All-Star), 70 is a consistent All-Star (potential H.O.F), 80 is a H.O.F franchise player.

By 3 pm, I am off to West Point to address Father Costa’s class. (to be continued)

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