Have you ever wondered what makes a great scout? Have you ever wondered how you become a scout? Have you ever thought that you might like to become a scout, specifically in baseball?
While this article will scratch the surface on how to become a scout for a Major League Baseball team, what we are going to explore is the qualities needed to stay a great scout.
In general, to become a scout three things occur: (1) you played baseball and are hired by a baseball team to scout other players; (2) you attend a scout school and get hired by a baseball team; or (3) you were an umpire or other type of baseball professional or analyst and get hired or assigned by a baseball team. If you are interested and want to do further research on the subject of becoming a Major League Baseball scout, here is a great article on the topic.
More to the point of our mission here today, assume you have landed your job as a scout, what are the three things you must do to become and stay a great scout. Unlike Clint Eastwood and his daughter Amy Adams’s characters in the movie “Trouble with Curve,” not all of us can hear the sound.
1. You are Going to Get it Wrong, Just Hope Your Wrongs are Minor
Life is wrought with mistakes; the point is to learn from our mistakes and to minimize the damage. As the saying goes, luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. Good scouts see talent and get the player signed. Great scouts find talent because they follow their instincts and often find it on a hunch, usually while scouting another top prospect. The essential take away is that you have to take risks to be successful and sometimes those risks are hunches on being invited to scout a player. You will see many failed prospects before you sign a top one, but sign the easy ones and avoid big mistakes by overlooking a top prospect when signing the “easy” ones.
2. You Cannot Anticipate Everything
Injuries, bad decision-making, trades, and generally life happens so do not get overwhelmed or overcommitted to a player you scout and get signed. At the end of the day, you need to do your job and that is to scout, find, and get talent signed. You need to learn and know who your prospects are on and off the field and to think of the whole player as a person and as an athlete. Often when people ask the question to a mentor or someone they have interest in their work on how they landed their first job, prospect, or client, inevitably the answer is learn how to be the underlying thing first.
What does this mean? If you want to become a general manager of a baseball team, learn how to be a great scout first. If you want to become a great scout, learn what it means to be a great baseball player and then study those who were and are considered the best ballplayers. The same applies to any profession, for example, if you want to be general counsel of a sports team, learn how to be a great lawyer first.
3. You Cannot Know Everything
Life is great because you truly never know what is around the corner. The element of surprise is a blessing, so embrace it. In some sense, embracing the unknown is preparing for it. Sports teams employ many scouts and do so because baseball like other sports is a numbers game. The more players you sign and have in your farm system the more likely it is that one of those prospects will develop into Major League-ready players.
When someone asks how can you know if a player is going to be great, the answer is you truly cannot know. However, the “make-up” of a player is part of the intangibles that cannot be measured. It means that at the end of the day, anything and nothing could happen. It means that you have to get good at interviewing and understanding people. If you understand how a player acts, thinks, and reacts, you will have a foundation to work from because even if the player does not pan out on the field, he will make it in life because he has “it.” He has “it,” the intangible quality of being a good man. All organizations, especially sports organizations, have people who work for them that after “failed” careers in professional baseball on the field, the once-prospect became a great scout or front office executive because they had it.
You cannot know everything, but starting with a foundation of being good and being good at what you do is a good start.
Remember, you are going to get it wrong, just minimize the wrongs by learning from your mistakes and sticking with what you know. Next, anticipate and prepare for what you can, forget what you cannot change. Lastly, get to know the player as a person first, if the talent is there it will show itself.