Two weeks ago, I wrote about how scouting could change as a result of this pandemic. As we come out of it, it very well may change. What I wrote about was that I was optimistic that it was important to have boots on the ground scouts in areas. The reason behind that? Simple, knowing the players better than anyone. This is a people game. Its about riding highs and lows, facing adversity and overcoming challenges. That cannot be quantified by numbers. In addition to that if the draft is shortened, we longer can miss on players. That brings me to my favorite topic and that is make up. Yes, understanding the player is crucial in the evaluation process. Now is that just baseball? What about the other leagues? During this time, I have had calls with other scouts and executives in the NFL, NBA and NHL.
NFL – “Talent is your ceiling; character is your floor.” That is the best line I have heard when it comes to make up. The evaluation is the ceiling of what they can be in the future. There character tells you how close they will come to it. When talent and character align you have a special player that is worth going to bat for. What this teams does is focus their player interviews on traits that they feel are important for success in the league. All the questions are connected to those traits. The main traits they are evaluating are development, personal resilience, learning and decision making, character and fit.
NBA – What I learned from an NBA team that I thought was great was ranking your sources. What they do is have a database of sources and rank them from A to D. If a source is reliable have a direct connection to the player, they are an A. If they learn some form of information second hand from someone, they met at a game then that may be a D. This helps put your information into perspective. If you’re doing, make up work on a player and all your source ranks are C’s and D’s then its likely you want to dig deeper and get closer to that inner circle.
NHL – This was an interesting league to learn about. Mainly because it is an international draft. There are scouts domestically but also in Canada, Russia, Sweden, etc. One thing I liked is anyone in the players inner circle such as a coach, trainer, strength coach they send a survey built through survey monkey. These questions focus on certain traits and ask for examples. When asking a question always to ask for an example or story. Everyone says I am a leader. Well, give me an example how you demonstrating leadership? This is a great way to accumulate a lot of information without having to make a ton of phone calls. When there are discrepancies, or something does not line up then you can attack that.
There were countless nuggets that I was able to pick up from scouts in each of these leagues. The one common denominator was how important make up was. They each had some unique ways to gather it which was the main reason why I reached out. We may work in different leagues but there is no one way to work. We can learn from each other.
Like I always say you can miss on the player, do not miss on the person.