by David Scrivines
The question I am most commonly asked when I’m at a baseball game is: How did I become a scout? Good question! I’ve had a lifelong interest in baseball, starting with my youth playing days in Milford. As I moved through high school and saw less time on the field and more time in the dugout, it gave me an opportunity to look at the game and start asking myself questions about the game. My questions were always simple, but I was always fascinated with wondering how to project future success of players. How do you know which high school players will become successful college players? How will college playing success project to minor league baseball? How will minor league success translate to playing in the big leagues?
I always enjoyed being at the ballpark. I remember spending many a day at Yale Field when the then-Double-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies, the New Haven Ravens played in West Haven. I spent the summer working the games as a game-day worker; sometimes selling hats and t-shirts in the stadium and other days selling programs. I saw minor leaguers Nomar Garciaparra, Vladimir Guerrero, Todd Helton, and many others come through the park en route to successful big league careers. I read about these players in Baseball America, but always wondered if they were as good in-person as the magazine was telling me they were. Some of these players had tools that most people could easily recognize — Todd Helton’s power, Vladimir Guerrero’s arm in right field, or Garciaparra’s range at short stop.
At some point in college, I told myself that I was going to start putting my observations on paper. I spent one summer (1996) going to games in the New England Collegiate Baseball League. At the time, the NECBL was primarily based in Connecticut, with teams located in Middletown, Waterbury, Groton, Danbury and other locations within an hour drive. By the end of that summer, I had created a binder full of scouting reports on all the players in the league. Once all of the reports were typed up on my word processor, I sent the packets to all 30 MLB clubs. Like many others, I started as an associate scout (bird-dog) with the Colorado Rockies. I covered high school and college games, assisted with tryout camps, and reported to a full-time scout in the northeast.
I started to think about some of the things that I learned as a youth player and how it impacted the way I looked at the game. One of my youth league coaches told me “a walk is as good as a hit”. Nobody believed him; it was almost as if a walk didn’t really earn your way to first base. As OBP and analytics started becoming more widely used, the advice that my youth coach gave me became more and more important. Another lesson I learned early as a pitcher; the best pitch is a first-pitch strike. This philosophy carries with me to this day when evaluating pitchers.
After spending eight seasons as an associate scout with Colorado and another three with the MLB Scouting Bureau, I had the opportunity to join the hometown Red Sox as a part-time scout. The Red Sox wanted to start scouting the independent leagues and one of the full-time scouts suggested to the team that they hire me. This is my sixth season working for the club covering the “indy leagues” and primarily the Atlantic League and Can Am League. My assignments also include the Frontier League, American Association, NCAA regional tournaments, along with high school and college games, and various high school and college summer leagues and showcases.
I had the opportunity to attend all three World Series games last year. It was quite a thrill! One of my best decisions was to join SABR about 10 years ago though. It’s a fun group to be in and includes people with varying backgrounds and interests. It’s been interesting to see the growth of SABR on a national level, along with the enthusiasm of a lot of people in our local Connecticut chapter. I like hearing people’s various opinions on baseball happenings, as well as some of the open mindedness that comes with the chapter in regards to its views on baseball. The best part of baseball is that it’s a game meant to be watched, discussed, and enjoyed. Every day that I’m at the ballpark is a good day. I get to wear a hat with a “B” on it and watch the game that I’ve enjoyed watching for 30-plus years.