To athletes seeking "exposure"

One of the most commonly cited reasons for spending big money on youth travel baseball is "exposure". In most cases, this is an empty promise from the team unless you've been blessed with the ability to play for a team with truly elite talent that competes on a national level at a tournament like Perfect Game's East Cobb Invitational where MLB scouts and college scouts will actually be.

Even if the promise of exposure is actually kept, you have to ask yourself: how much is that exposure actually worth?

If the athlete hasn't reached high school yet, is there any value at all? After all, if you aren't any good at 16, it doesn't matter how good you were when you were 12, and if you are good at 16, it still doesn't matter how good you were when you were 12.

Are tools present that will impress a scout? Kids without a single standout tool are frequently convinced that all they need is exposure because they are good youth baseball players. Without standout power, speed, or throwing velocity, you will simply blend into the game. Scouts are after guys that will perform at the next level, not guys who perform at their current level.

The types of player that are helped by "exposure" are late bloomers, elite athletes that changed sports in high school, position players transitioning to the mound, and a very narrow subset of fringe players that scouts haven't made their minds up about. More athletes think they are in that last group than reasonably should.

If you have the talent to be noticed, scouts will find you wherever you are. It's their job, and the internet is making it easier than ever for them. Your tools are all the exposure you need.

None of this is an argument against paying big money to play travel ball. Just don't do it for "exposure".

See you in October

That title could probably be a rallying cry for just about any Major League Baseball organization, but in this case, it means this blog is going on hiatus. Given my random publishing schedule, most of you probably won't even notice that I'm gone.

As a part of my employment as a pro scout, I have been asked to cease blogging activity from now until October 1, 2011. The blog will not be taken down.

The PITCHf/x database will continue to run as it has for the past couple of seasons. Of course, thanks to this off-season's upgrades, it's now much prettier.

I'll be doing the normal scouting stuff, with half the number of teams of most scouts (to help me balance school and other work responsibilities), and I'll also be doing some video analysis. There's no telling what kind of impact I'll have, but I certainly hope it's big enough that my baseball career isn't one-and-done. Either way, it's going to be a fun season.

As you read this, I'm headed to (or already in) Phoenix, Arizona for Spring Training. My pro scouting adventure has begun.

Notes, news, and something else to read

I'm going to bury the lead here, but this is something you need to read. Over at Men's Journal, the light bulb just came on for Daniel Duane. Check out: Everything You Know About Fitness is a Lie. (Hat tip to Tony Gentilcore for getting this article in front of me.)

Remember that Strasburg article I promised a while back? After having looked things over, I decided I don't have much of anything to go on, so I decided to scrap it. My apologies to anyone that was looking forward to it.

I've had a few things kicking around in my head. I dumped a couple of my PITCHf/x ideas onto the blog in December, but I have yet to make any progress on either front. My annual look at the Texas Rangers win-curve is on its way. I have another "Please, Don't Buy This" product to write about. An upcoming series will give an inside look at what college athletes (and their coaches) know and don't know about strength and conditioning. I also have a few additions planned for the PITCHf/x database. I don't know how much of this I'm going to get to because...

Between March 11, 2011 and September 30, 2011, I will be working as a pro scout for a Major League Baseball club. At their request, I will be on hiatus from my websites during that time. I have not been asked to take down the PITCHf/x database, and I do not expect to be asked to do so.

I'm excited about the opportunity and eager to see where it might lead. Now, let's see how much I can get done in the next 5 weeks.

Draft Prospect: Tyler Matzek, LHP, Capistrano Valley HS

Unlike Matthew Purke, Tyler Matzek is routinely regarded as a pitcher with an easy, repeatable delivery. Matzek is able to throw 90-94 mph with ease and has recently been as high as 98 mph according to several reports. He throws a curveball that has plus potential, but scouts from the Major League Scouting Bureau have a lesser opinion of its current quality than Baseball America does. Dr. Mike Marshall weighed in on Matzek in his Questions/Answers 2009 file. If you are at all familiar with Dr. Marshall's view of the 'traditional' pitching motion, you'll recognize that his comments border on praise. Dr. Marshall had the following to say: Mr. Matzek's version of the 'traditional' baseball pitching motion is not as injurious as many I have seen... I doubt that he will suffer a serious pitching injury. However, he will never be as good as he should have been. As with Purke, I was intrigued by the reports of an easy, repeatable delivery, and the comments from Dr. Marshall further piqued my interest. I dug around and found a video similar to the one I used for my Purke article. [Video.] [continued]
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Draft Prospect: Matthew Purke, LHP, Klein HS

Spring, TX - a suburb of Houston - has produced quite a number of early-round draft picks over the past several years. It looks like Klein's Matt Purke will join a list that includes former Klein players Josh Barfield, Chris George, and David Murphy, as well as Josh Beckett, Sam Demel, and Daryl Jones from Spring High School. Purke stands at 6-foot-3 and weighs 180 pounds. Scouts like his projectability and believe he could add velocity as he gets stronger. He already sits at 92-94 MPH, occasionally throwing a tick or two harder. His primary off-speed pitch is a slurve-type offering called a slider by Baseball America and a curve by the Major League Scouting Bureau. Whatever you call it, it's one of the best breaking balls in this year's high school draft class. Conflicting reports from the same two sources have his change up somewhere between "unknown" and "good." Purke is believed to have a strong commitment to Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, so signability has become a concern for some clubs. Rumors of his signing bonus demands have ranged from $2 million to $7 million, but the most recent rumors have him in the neighborhood of $3 million. Almost every report on Purke has mentioned something about questionable mechanics. Typically, high school deliveries are full of flaws and quirks, but rarely do these scouting reports go out of their way to mention them. Baseball America mentions Purke's slinging action, saying that it is neither violent nor smooth. I guess that would be... Average? Typical? Expected? Outside of this specific mentioning of a flaw, I could only find generic references to his mechanics. I wanted to have a look for myself. [continued]
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