July 16, 2012

WAITING AND WATCHING:

A major-league scout takes us through his process at a New Orleans Zephyrs game (Bob Fortus, 7/16/12, The Times-Picayune)

It didn't take the scout long to spot a nuance in the delivery of Oklahoma City RedHawks left-hander Brett Oberholtzer. Before Oberholtzer let go of the ball when throwing a pitch in the second inning in a recent game against the New Orleans Zephyrs, the scout was expecting to see a curveball.

"He slows his delivery down," said the scout, who was watching from a seat behind the plate at Zephyr Field. "You can pick up the breaking ball when he slows his delivery down. It's not quite the same delivery he has on his fastball."

The Zephyrs' Donnie Murphy hit Oberholtzer's next curveball for a hard double to left.

Henceforth, the scout will be identified as Scout. He agreed to be accompanied to a game under the condition that his name and big-league organization not be revealed. [...]

Scout said he might see a particular team play 10 games in a season. Because a player can go through stretches of unusual success or failure, a scout has to wary of forming the wrong impression.

"If you're in at the wrong time, it can really make a difference," Scout said. "A month ago, Wade LeBlanc was different from a week ago. He made some adjustments."

On June 10, LeBlanc, a left-handed pitcher, was knocked out in the fourth inning in a start for the Zephyrs. He was effective in his next three starts, and the Marlins called him up as a reliever. In his first three appearances for Miami, he pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings.

For each position player, Scout assigns grades on five tools -- throwing arm, fielding ability, speed, hitting ability and power. The scale is 20 to 80; 50 is average.
"The two things that you wait on the longest are power and speed," Scout said.

Zephyrs outfielder Kevin Mattison is an 80 runner, he said. "People will keep giving him opportunities," he said. Oklahoma City first baseman Mike Hessman, because of exceptional power, has had opportunities in the majors and might get more, Scout said. At age 34, Hessman leads the PCL in homers at 27 through Saturday.

Posted by at July 16, 2012 6:10 PM
  

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