Nobody could have guessed in 1985 that Greg Maddux, 19 years old at the time, would turn into a Hall of Fame pitcher. Not even if you were paid to make guesses about stuff like that.
Duffy Dyer, a former major league player and coach who managed and scouted for the Class A team of the Milwaukee Brewers in '85, wrote in his report about Maddux that he was "not strong enough to be a starter." That he was "small" with a "good arm," but "ran out of gas" and "did not pitch good last 1/3 of season."
As Matt Snyder of CBS Eye on Baseball notes, Maddux became one of the 10 best pitchers, or so, of all time, and there's not much in Dyer's report to indicate such a career was coming. Well, based on what Dyer saw, he wasn't wrong about Maddux. He just wasn't going to be right forever.
Hey, who knew, right? A year later in 1986, another scout, Larry Monroe of the White Sox, noted the improvements that Maddux was making:
He's gonna be a good one. 88 (mph) fastball tails when up and sinks when down. Pitches inside very well with good command. ... Very good potential to be a consistent, winning starter.
Pitching inside, especially to left-handed batters, was one of the reasons Maddux was so good. And yet, Maddux was being held back by what — now — seem like surprising limitations:
Good curveball, but needs more consistent bite. Change only fair and doesn't have command of it. Needs one more year for work on curve and change.
"Change only fair"! With some work, as Monroe said, Maddux eventually perfected the pitch.
Steve Vrablik's report on Maddux in 1987 for the Seattle Mariners said he was "in over his head" in the major leagues during his rookie season and needed another year at Class AAA. The Cubs seemingly had rushed Maddux to the majors. But a year later, Vrablik's praise was effusive:
"Excellent starting pitcher. Very good live, sinking movement on his FB. Mixer with four good pitches. Changes speeds very well. Good athlete."
And in 1989, when it became evident that Maddux had a chance to be really good, Eddie Bockman of the Phillies nailed it:
"Top right-handed pitcher in NL. Will be around a long time."
And there's more:
The comments about the other players scouted are no less interesting. Mitch Williams:
Power-type pitcher that could go in a hurry. Maximum effort on every pitch even in spring training. Runs it up there good, but how long will it last?
Probably longer than Bockman figured, even if he was spot-on about Mitchie-poo. And as for Maddux:
As for Duffy Dyer, he's doing just fine, managing the Kenosha Kingfish of the Northwoods League. College kids and wooden bats.
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