This past week, Dave Gershman (who runs the great Penn League Report website) posted an insightful article over at Beyond the Box Score called “The Art of Scouting“. In it, he explains how scouting is more an art rather than a science. He also details what a typical scouting report, compiled by an area scout, looks like when turned into the team’s scouting director.
Dave explains how each of the 5 tools is graded on the 20-80 Scouting Scale and divided by 5 to get the player’s Overall Future Potential (OFP). An OFP of 65-80 is a Major League Star, 50-65 is a Solid Everyday Regular, 40-49 is a Bench Guy/Below Average Regular, and 30-39 is an Organizational Player. It’s a great article and I recommend everyone take a few minutes to read it.
What I wanted to do in this article is attempt to gauge the OFP of two players, Andrew McCutchen from his 2007 scouting reports while at AA and Starling Marte in 2011 from his presumed AA scouting reports. Here’s what Baseball America’s Scouting Report wrote about McCutchen after his 2007 AA season (from the subscribers’ area during the Top 10 rankings that year):
Strengths: McCutchen has quick hands and recognizes pitches extremely well, giving him the ability to wait for the ball to get deeper in the zone while drawing his share of walks. He has outstanding speed that make him a basestealing threat and a potential Gold Glover. He has outstanding instincts and an average arm in center field.
Weaknesses: McCutchen is susceptible to breaking pitches, in part because he gets pull-happy, and his power hasn’t developed as hoped. He’s slow getting out of the batter’s box, which prevents him from getting as many infield hits as his speed suggests he should.
So using that little snippet, let’s put some grades on McCutchen as if we were a scout at the game filing that report.
Andrew McCutchen CF
Hitting (50 now, 60 future) — (Note: If you read Dave’s article, you’ll see a 50 hit is .265 to .289, while a 60 hit is .290 to .304)
Power (40 now, 45 future) — (Note: 40 power is 10 to 15 HR, while 50 is 16 to 21. The report seemed down on his power so that’s why it’s not higher)
Speed (60 now, 65 future) — (No metrics were given in the article, so I’m giving him 1 grade above average with the ability to improve an additional 1/2 grade in the future)
Fielding (50 now, 60 future) — (McCutchen was widely viewed as a Gold Glove type of guy in the minors for his range and speed)
Arm (50 now, 50 future) — (McCutchen has always been said to have an average arm)
That all averages out to a 56 Future OFP, which is a very solid grade. Dave also mentions that scouts can add a couple of points for an Adjusted OFP, based on position of the player and the scout’s own feel, but let’s just keep it as is.
Now let’s try to and do Starling Marte based on this year at AA:
Starling Marte CF
Hitting (55 now, 55 future) — (Yes, Marte has never hit below .300 while in the United States, but I’m downgrading him a touch to account for the K/BB issues. Theoretically, he could be a 65 or 70)
Power (40 now, 40 future) — (Marte has drastically increased his HR power this year, but I still think he tops out at 15 in the majors)
Speed (60 now, 65 future) — (Having seen him a few times, I can attest that he runs like a gazelle)
Fielding (50 now, 60 future) — (Marte’s range and instincts will only continue to improve. He is also a Gold Glove-caliber CF)
Arm (60 now, 70 future) — (Here is the one area that Marte is significantly better than McCutchen. He has a small howitzer attached to his right shoulder socket)
Totalling up those grades and averaging them out, you get a 58 for Marte, higher than McCutchen pretty much on the strength of his Arm grade. Should we interpret that Marte’s 58 versus McCutchen’s 56 means that Marte will be a better player than McCutchen? No, not necessarily. McCutchen’s power spike this year is something that wasn’t foreseen back in 2008 based on that scouting report. But it does mean that Marte can be a legitimate option in CF for the Pirates, perhaps as soon as summer 2012.