Thanks to technology, today's scouts have things a lot easier than their predecessors.
Radar gun technology has improved, cell phones allow for constant contact, GPS systems can easily get them to any field in the country, video cameras allow scouts the ability to compare players side-by-side and break down mechanics in slow motion and virtually every team's schedule is posted on the Internet.
Things are about to get even easier.
With the help of a developer, a Giants part-time scout in Florida, Tim Rock, has created an iPhone application for scouts. The app, iProScout Baseball, is in the final testing stages and should be in the App Store by the end of March.
"I thought about this 10 or 15 years ago, but I think technology has finally caught up to my original idea," Rock said.
The app allows scouts to enter biographical information on a player and, as soon as the scout chooses a position for the player, the app prompts the scout to fill out the player's evaluation card.
For position players, the scout is able to grade out each of the player's five tools and has fields to choose from descriptive words for several other categories like stance, stroke, power frequency, baserunning instincts, fielding range and more. For pitchers, scouts are able to grade each pitch and control. They also have options to choose from for several categories, some of which include feel for pitching, poise, mound emotions, aggressiveness, arm actions and delivery.
The app automatically calculates the players OFP (with an option for manual adjustments) and gives the scout the option to sort all his players by either name, position or OFP.
"I think it's only logical that mobile apps are the next wave of technology that are going to becoming more prevalent in scouting," Athletics scouting director Eric Kubota said. "Everybody's got some kind of smartphone now and it's such a portable and powerful device. You can input information at games, watch video on those devices, do your scheduling—there's so many possibilities with those devices, it's just natural next wave of technological advances in scouting."
When Kubota watches games, he already takes most of his notes on his phone, and Rock noticed several other scouts doing the same thing—e-mailing themselves reports during games to save time when they get home and have to input those reports into their team's web-based database.
"Scouting has a big divorce rate in it," Rock said. "I know that might sound strange, but with this, scouts don't have to go home to their wives and say they have all these reports to do. I mean, guys can do anywhere from 80 to 100 reports a season. So, this allows them to better utilize their time. It's very easy to use, but what is in it is 100 percent professional."
The app will initially be available for the iPhone and iPad, likely for a subscription price of $5.99 per month. Eventually, Rock envisions adding the iPhone's video capability into the app and expanding the app for different devices.
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