Commentary

Scouts preparing for the MLB Draft

Updated: June 5, 2009, 3:13 PM ET
By Andrew Drennen | ESPNRISE.com

With the Major League Baseball first-year player draft taking place June 9-11, teams are trying to figure out which players to select. High school and college draft prospects are scouted by major league clubs all years. But only a few will get drafted, and an even smaller number of players will make it to the big leagues.

The evaluation process begins for a draft eligible player "the first time you see a player walk on the field," said Bruce Seid, scouting director for the Milwaukee Brewers.

Scouts evaluate a player's tools, like his raw power, ability to hit, speed, arm strength and athleticism. With so many players to scout, it's not always easy to get a complete picture.

"I may be able to only see a kid one time, and if he struggles lets say at the plate, then I have to see other aspects of this game -- his athleticism, or if he gives his all, and I can get a good speed time," Seid explained.

"You have to be able to read between the lines to make an accurate assessment of the kid's raw ability," he added.

Players are often evaluated by different levels of a club's scouting department. The process begins with the area scout, who just covers a specific area, like Southern California.

The area scout's responsibility is to find out everything about the prospect. The area scout will visit a player in his home, which is the equivalent of an interview between the player and the team. The scout is looking for information on the player's makeup and character.

"It is tough to take a guy who we don't know because if you don't know him it can go either way," said Seid. "From the home visit a player should expect to get to know the organization. Most teams are going to want certain information on the player; we call it a personality profile. Remember this is a job interview for the most part."

The area scout reports to a regional cross-checker, who then makes a broader evaluation of the players in his area. The regional cross-checker may report to a national cross-checker, if one exists in the operation, or to the scouting director.

Of the many challenges that a scouting department faces throughout the year, perhaps the biggest is making sure players are seen and evaluated. Mother Nature doesn't always cooperate, and area scouts are often asked to cover long distances.

The amount of travel required is probably the most demanding part of a scout's job. Seid said he had away from home for the past five-and-a-half months.

During the scouting season, communication is key.

"We have guys who have been together for a lot of years," he said, "and it helps us get on the same page."

The first part of the scout's year ends at the draft, but there are always more players to see and evaluate.

Andrew Drennen covers high school baseball for ESPNRISE.com