I receive emails asking this exact question from time to time. It thrills me that so many people continue to visit this site, and the contributions from readers, both in the form of discussion and submissions makes this site what it is. With that said, I wanted to outline the things you can do to help, including what you can provide while at games that can be a big benefit. The first area you can help is with tracking down news articles and links related to our current prospects. With all of the profile pages added, my goal is to update and make these pages better as the season progresses. When someone you know says “Hey, who is this Jon Singleton guy”, I’d appreciate you telling them, and giving them the link to the Jon Singleton profile here, which contains his scouting report, an assessment of his tools, and his player history. The second area where you can help is by going to games and then reporting back things you see. Some people aren’t sure what to look for, so I’ll go into that in detail below the fold.
While parsing out information found on the internet and looking at stats is really helpful when thinking about prospects, actually getting to see these guys in person, look at their swing or pitching motion and see how they play the game help you form a better opinion of a player. You don’t have to be a professional scout to draw meaningful observations from a minor league game you attend. While your first goal when going to a minor league game should be to have fun, especially if you’re there with family or friends, you can still help. Here are the things to focus on:
1. Video. This is the most important thing you can provide, whether it be with an actual video camera or your cell phone. Video from any angle will be better than no video, but the optimal locations are directly behind home plate, and directly over the 1st or 3rd base bag. Look at these two videos below for picture perfect video from a game.
Notice how he moves just slightly off center behind home plate and then slides to both sides of the plate to get video from all 3 angles.
Great side angle view here.
The same applies to hitters. Side angles are beneficial, and so is the view from behind the plate but slightly to the batter’s side. In other words, if its a righthanded batter, behind the backstop you’d slide toward the side of the batter.
2. Velocity readings. Velocity is really important for pitchers, along with a number of other factors. Lots of stadiums list the velocity on the scoreboard. These guns are normally not 100% accurate, but they at least provide a data point. If you’re really interested in this stuff, you can walk down behind home plate where the scouts sit and sit behind one with a radar gun and see the numbers they are clocking. These numbers are much more accurate, and will be a big help. Its also important to note velocity ranges. You can do this at your seat, simply taking a pen and writing velocities down over the course of multiple innings. Its always notable to see if a pitcher is able to hold his first inning velocity into the 5th or 6th innings.
First hand accounts of player performances are extremely valuable to this site. No one is an expert, even scouts who have been at this forever, because everyone gets it wrong every year, its the nature of the business. But the more information we have access to, the better informed we are, and the higher probability of correctly predicting a breakout or raising a red flag on a guy putting up big numbers.
So in summary, you can help this website by hunting down news articles (especially older articles) for our prospects, getting good video from games you attend, or just passing along reports from games, including velocity readings and pitch types thrown. I look forward to a fantastic 2011 season, and your contributions will drive us towards that goal. Thanks again for everything.