Monday, January 18, 2016

Scouting in odd places

I came across this article from the Toronto Sun: The Twins have hired the main Canadian scout away from the Scouting Bureau, a centralized service run by the commissioner's office for all 30 clubs..

I haven't followed this particular development all that closely, but the Bureau is under new management, and the new chief, former big-league general manager Bill Bavasi, is refocusing the Bureau from scouting for the next draft to medical reports, early identification of prospects and what one might call new markets -- Asia, Europe, Australia. It's a good guess that Walt Burrows decided he didn't want to be part of that transition.

A dozen or so clubs don't have a full-time scout assigned to Canada; the Twins were, according to the article, using a Minnesota-based scout to cover the Dominion. Presumably Burrows will take that burden off Mark Wilson. 

Looking for talent under rocks other teams ignore has long been a trademark of the Twins. They've probably signed more Australians than anybody. Grant Balfour was probably the biggest success, but most of what he accomplished in the majors came years after his Twins tenure. Max Kepler, a good prospect out of Germany, has a real chance to be an impact player in the next few years. And the most issue of Baseball America has a blurb about a pitcher named Vladim Balan who the Twins signed for a pittance out of Moldova, an Eastern European country of less than 3 million population who has shown a 96-mph fastball. He's 22 and very raw, so the odds are very much against him. 

Most teams focus their scouting efforts in the places that generate the most talent -- California, Florida, the Dominican, Texas. The Twins can't afford to ignore those places, obviously. But they seem to be more determined than most to find talent in places the others barely glance at, and the hiring of Burrows is something of an example. Canada isn't exactly ignored by other organizations, but it's not all that heavily scouted either.

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