Over the weekend, the Baseball Hall of Fame opened its newest exhibit, Diamond Mines, which was created to honor scouts and the history of scouting in baseball. I’m sure the exhibit itself is pretty neat, and if you’re planning on a trip to Cooperstown, you now have something else to look forward to.
But even if you’re not going to Cooperstown, this exhibit is fantastic, because in addition to the physical museum presence, they created an online searchable deposit of historical scouting reports. And it is awesome.
For instance, I searched for Mike Piazza, since the story goes that he was drafted — in the 62nd round, no less — solely as a favor from Tommy LaSorda to Piazza’s father, who was friendly with the Dodgers manager. I figured they might not have any scouting reports on Piazza, since he wasn’t a top prospect and apparently wasn’t heavily scouted. Except, to my surprise, the Hall does have a scouting report on Piazza, from Brad Kohler, who saw Piazza two years before he was drafted, and it is actually pretty optimistic.
“Summation and Signability: Great size plus youth to go with potential above average long ball pop. Average student in class. No solid college offers. A long way to come with overall ability but worth selection on bat and power.”
Piazza was listed as a first baseman, but still got an OFP score of 44.6, which means he was being forecast as just a slightly below average player despite the scout thinking he had no real defensive value. This seems to contradict the idea that Piazza was a nothing prospect who was never supposed to hit for power and whose career should be tainted by questions of how he went from being a non-prospect to a Hall of Famer. Here, we have a scouting report from high school that projected Piazza for above average big league power. That’s valuable information, especially with the way history gets re-written by people with agendas.
The database doesn’t have scouting reports for every player, and some of them are more useful than others, but this is still a pretty incredible tool. This is the kind of time sinkhole that I can see myself losing hours in, but I’ll be happy during all of those hours.