Double Vision

Shortly after the 2007 draft, Baseball America added Dave Perkin to the staff of Prospects Plus, as the West Coast eyes and ears of our subsidiary scouting service. Perkin has spent the past two months scouring Southern California for high school talent, and provided scouting reports and analysis to Prospects Plus subscribers, as one of more than a dozen of the service’™s content providers. With the high school scouting scene taking center stage this week, with the Area Code Games in Long Beach, readers can see the event through the eyes of Dave, who has spent the past seven years scouting the area for professional teams.

LONG BEACH–In a sense, scouting is an elaborate Rorschach test. Some people look at the ink blot and see a leaf; others see a butterfly; still others see a fire hydrant.

One of the biggest dilemma scouts face is figuring out what they like the best in a player that does everything well–a player who shows potential both as a pitcher and a position player.

One player causing double vision this week at the Area Code Games at Blair Field in Long Beach is Tyler Chatwood (East Valley High, Redlands, Calif.). As a pitcher, Chatwood fires a fastball in the 90-93 mph range and mixes in a hard, sharp curve.

Yet Chatwood is an excellent athlete, as exhibited by his 6.77-second speed in the 60-yard dash and 31 1/2-inch vertical leap. At bat, he displays the ability to rip the ball to all fields, and his drives have a distinctive, concussive crack. Chatwood has the glove, range and arm to play any of the three outfield spots, and his impressive performance today concluded with a one-hop laser from left field that cut down a would-be run by five feet.

Adding to this conundrum is the fact that he’s just 5-foot-10, 180 pounds, and his strong, athletic, mature frame offers little projection. His tools fit better in the outfield, but if he slides to third base, he doesn’t figure to have the necessary power to profile as an everyday player. As a pitcher, he has the present stuff to succeed, but a questionable ceiling.

What is a scout to do? Report him as a pitcher or a position player? The answer isn’t easy, but if I was threatened with water boarding and forced to make a decision, I’d draft him as an outfielder.

Regardless of which position he’s taken as, the fact is that Chatwood is a gifted player who will be a terrific asset to a college program (he’s committed to UCLA), or perhaps a big league organization, in the very near future.

How tough is it for scouts to get it right? A pro scout in the early 1950s filed a report on a young second baseman playing in the minors in Jacksonville, Fla. “He plays second now, but should shift to the outfield,” the report began, “and he is a tremendous hitter but will never hit for any power.”

The subject of the report?

Henry Aaron.

At least the scout got part of it right.