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A Professional Baseball Scout, What Exactly is there role in High School, College and Pro Baseball?

An Interview with Matt Stark, Current International Scouting Supervisor The WBP™ High School to College Baseball Recruitment Planning Program(MX) Seattle Mariners

Nov 1, 2008
by WBP™ - Worldwide Baseball Prospects

Thank you to a very busy baseball man. Matt Stark is the CEO of International Performance Baseball. Matt is a Professional Baseball Scout for the Seattle Mariners Organization and is a frequent traveller who has put on a lot miles over his 25 years in professional baseball as a player, coach and scout. Always on route he assist players with personal instruction, player development, contract signings or hosting professional scouting events in the United States, Latin America and Mexico. We wanted to get the facts straight from the source and asked Matt a few questions about scouting in baseball with the hopes that it may assist you with more knowledge.
Stark was the 1st round draft pick of the Toronto Blue Jays back in 1983. He holds a number of records at various professional levels, and in 1993 became the first player ever to score 100 runs, draw 100 walks and produced 100 RBI's in a single Mexican League season.
Matt served 3 years as the Hitting Instructor for the AAA affiliate of the Florida Marlins.
Since the completion of his professional career, Matt has turned his talents to scouting and instruction, serving as a hitting instructor with Tony Gwynn and Rod Carew at hitting camps in Mexico.

WBP: Let’s get in to it right away, what are the different types of Professional Scouts for a Major League Baseball Organization?

STARK: There are 3 departments in scouting, International, professional and amateur. A professional scout would cover professional leagues and teams including Independent professional baseball. An International scout is assigned an area or country and he covers that area for the most part covering professional and amateur players and leagues. An amateur scout covers high schools, travel teams, and colleges and any other form of non professional baseball.

WBP: What is the process of becoming a MLB scout? Can anybody do it?

STARK: Most scouts have baseball experience. In my opinion it’s tough just to learn how to scout and project a player with no baseball or playing experience. It helps to have some references and some one that can refer you with baseball experience and creditability. Major League baseball does offer a scouting school experience, but learning from video and books is not the same as having a feel and a sense of a player skills and abilities. I think playing experience is a plus for some scouts.

WBP: How does a parent know a scout is really who he says he is? Is there certification?

STARK: Scouts received issued identification cards from Major League Baseball. Most scouts should have business cards from their respective organizations. Be aware there are some fakes out there.

WBP: What is a typical day/week/month like for a Scout?

STARK: There is no typical day for a scout. A professional scout maps out his schedule, what teams and players he would like to see, I would imagine mapping out schedules earlier than later would be better. As an International scout I select specific tournaments to travel to and watch players, this is done months in advance. Amateur scouts are mapping there high school schedules and summer tournaments months in advance as well.

WBP: How do Scouts project talent, do they just look at the Stats and put a player in a yes/maybe/no column or do they have to follow the player over a period of time. How important are players’ stats especially at the High School Level?

STARK: Stats can play apart in scouting depending on how you use them. Skill and ability is the key, but once you zero in on that, intangibles make the difference. Attitude, commitment, work ethic, athleticism, project ability.

WBP: What is the difference in roles between a Scout and a College Recruiter?

STARK: Some I would believe are similar. I would think a recruiter is recruiting a specific player for that specific program. MLB organizations are looking for prospects they can develop, which may take years. College has always been a good tool to develop players and to get an education as well.

WBP: Matt do a lot of guys get drafted out of High School? If they don’t and still want a chance one day to play pro what are their options?

STARK: Less and less high school players are getting drafted for several reasons. First International players are signing at a high rate due to more skill, more hunger, more commitment and they sign for less money. High school players in the United States are lacking in those areas along with maturity. MLB organizations don’t have the patience that they once had 15 to 20 years ago in developing players, they need to see improvement and justify that players are improving and developing and making it to the big leagues.

WBP: I am sure you heard this one!  “My son is the best in his league; he has the highest batting average, why don’t the scouts come out to see him play?”

STARK: I have literally heard this 1000 times. Lack of education that parents have in this area is ruining kids. Let the professional do their work and if your son or daughter is good enough someone will notice. If not attend a tryout or a showcase to create some exposure. Understand the situation your in, look realistically at the ability of your son or daughter and then come up with a game plan.

WBP: What does “sign ability” mean?

STARK: Does player want to sign, how much money it will take to sign this player, along with other factors determine sign ability.

WBP: When you project talent, how do you do this, what format is used?

STARK: I do not use a format. I have a feel and a sense of what a player will be able to do, and let my 25 years of experience, work for me through observing the player, his body movements, agility, reaction time, athleticism, physical make up and everything else you can throw in the blender to make a intelligent decision when scouting and evaluating a player.

WBP: When you are at a High School Game and you went there to see a specific player, do any of the other players ever catch your eye?

STARK: A player never knows who’s watching him. Play every game like it’s your last. Each game I attend I watch every player, I may watch some players and give more attention to them than others but I’m scouting everybody. I believe in being thorough.

WBP: How do Scouts and College Coaches work together?

STARK: I believe in several different ways. I think both sides can help each other in many different ways. My job does not entail working with colleges.