With the Hall of Fame results being announced today, we decided to take a trip down memory lane and dig up some old scouting reports from the Baseball America archives on some of the ballot's notable candidates. . .
Here is a scouting report on Barry Larkin, when he ranked No. 8 on the Reds Top 10 list in 1986, written by Tracy Ringolsby. . .
8. Barry Larkin, ss, 21, 5-11, 175, R-R
When Larkin came out of Cincinnati's Moeller High School in 1982, the Reds thought enough of him to make him a second-round selection. Larkin, however, turned them down and decided to go to the University of Michigan. The Reds never gave up hope, and when Larkin was eligible in the draft again last summer, they used their No. 1 pick to take him. This time he signed, and he gave the Reds nothing but reason for optimism with his debut.
Larkin looked right at home in AA, hitting .267 for Vermont. He didn't show power (one home run in 255 at-bats), but that will come. The key for him was just getting his feet on the ground, and he was not overpowered by the high level of competition (21 strikeouts in 255 at-bats). He will have good power for a shortstop.
In fact, he should hit enough that he could be moved to third base, a good possibility considering (Kurt) Stillwell is on the verge of making it to the big leagues.
It would only be because of Stillwell that Larkin would have to change positions. He's got the range and natural actions of a shortstop, and good enough arm strength to play the position on turf.
Here are Double-A Eastern League scouting reports on Bernie Williams and Jeff Bagwell, when they ranked No. 2 and No. 4, respectively, in 1990, as written by Phil Bowman of the Canton (Ohio) Repository . . .
2. Bernie Williams, of, Albany
Williams, 22, was the No. 6 prospect in the Eastern League last year. He has all the tools, and is a switch-hitter with some power from both sides of the plate. He also covers a lot of ground in center field and has a strong arm.
“I don’t know why he’s not playing in the major leagues right now,” said New Britain manager Butch Hobson.
“He’s better than 75 percent of the center fielders in the majors,” said one coach.
But Williams has weaknesses. He had been caught stealing on a third of his attempts this season, and some scouts wondered about his struggles at Triple-A Columbus in 1989.
Said one EL manager: “Sometimes I wonder if Bernie knows how good he can be.”
4. Jeff Bagwell, 3b, New Britain
Bagwell, 22, was in his first full professional season, and his numbers were staggering.
Bagwell finished second in hitting, playing half his games at Beehive Field, one of the toughest parks for hitters in minor league baseball. Bagwell broke the New Britain season record for hits, and led the league in hits and doubles, and was second in triples.
Said Canton manager Ken Bolek: “He’s proved day in, day out that he’s the best hitter in the league. And the amazing thing is that he’s been steady all year. This if his first full year, and he’s proved himself in a very difficult league.”
In a move to shore up their bullpen, the Boston Red Sox traded Bagwell to the Houston Astros for reliever Larry Anderson.
Here is a scouting report on Edgar Martinez, when he ranked No. 6 on the Mariners Top 10 list in 1988, written by Tracy Ringolsby. . .
6. Edgar Martinez, 3b, 25, 5-11, 175, R-R
He's the cousin of San Diego's power-hitting Carmelo Martinez, but other than the ancestry has little in common with Carmelo. Edgar, signed as a free agent out of Puerto Rico in December 1982, is a disciplined hitter. Consider: a .294 average and 340 walks compared to 181 strikeouts in the last four pro seasons.
He works himself ahead in the count, and makes use of all fields, driving the ball into the alleys. While he'll never be a big home run hitter—maybe 15 to 20 a year—Martinez's discipline will produce runs. He's averaged 70 RBIs the last four years. In the field, he's solid, with good reactions and the soft hands of a middle infielder.
Here is the report on Fred McGriff, again written by Tracy Ringolsby, when McGriff ranked No. 1 on the Blue Jays Top 10 list in 1984. . .
1. Fred McGriff, 1b, 21, 6-3, 200, L-L
All right, he still has a ways to go. But once he arrives, he will give people plenty to talk about. Just like Willie Upshaw and Damaso Garcia, who like McGriff were raw talents the Blue Jays stole away from the Yankee system, McGriff has the ability. It just needs refining.
The only question on when he will make it to the big leagues is when he will make consistent contact. He has struck out 260 times in 894 at-bats the last two minor league seasons, and he probably always will pile up strikeouts. But when he hits the ball, it goes a long way (50 home runs and 136 RBIs the last two years), a tempting sight for the Blue Jays, whose home park is a paradise for lefthanded hitters.
He has made a steady climb in the two years since the Blue Jays got him as a throw-in in the trade for Dale Murray, having played at Kinston and Florence in 1983 and Knoxville and Syracuse last year.
Like other young power hitters, the curveball throws him for a curve. His defense is still in the marginal category, but he has good lateral movement, and an excellent arm. His reactions are slow, but his desire and work habits make him a good learner.
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