Ever wonder what scouts were saying about a Hall of Famer in his years before reaching the major leagues? If so, we have the ultimate example right here after a Deadspin reader recently came across a high school scouting report for a then 17-year-old Cal Ripken Jr.
According to Deadspin, the report was put together by longtime Pirates scout Joe Consoli after watching Ripken pitch two games for Aberdeen (Md.) High in 1978. At the time, Consoli was working for MLB's central scouting bureau.
It may be a little difficult to read the small print so we'll translate the notes at the bottom and add a few comments along the way.
No glasses or known injuries. Built like handsome as Jim Palmer. Son of Cal Ripken, Baltimore Orioles coach. Young, fine-looking, long-armed big boned physical specimen. 8 Pts. Deduction acct, inexperienced delivery.
“Built like handsome as Jim Palmer.” Something seems to be missing from that statement, but nonetheless it appears they weren’t just looking for the next great pitcher back in those days, but also the next great underwear model.
The no known injuries theme would continue for the next 23 years.
Throws mostly hard CB’s. ¾ arm sinkers. Mixes breaking balls with few FB’s. Charges on CB and FB bore down and in for control strikeout pitch. Outstanding competitor. Can hit, RUBBER ARM.
Doesn’t sound like an overwhelming repertoire, though how interesting would it have been to see Ripken make it to the big leagues as a relief pitcher? 100-110 appearances might not be out of the question.
Runs 4.6 1B. Not fully matured. Growing taller faster than mobility will allow. Does not release ball down far enough past body but sneaky stuff on all pitches.
The ultimate pitching project. Makes you wonder about his potential elsewhere.
Summation and Signability: Worth 18,000 (signing bonus)
Plays SS but lack of fluid mobility will limit prospect here. Live arm, excellent command of CB, strong size, intense desire to play, father’s influence rate chance.
Well, we’ll give Consoli credit for recognizing Ripken’s intensity and desire to reach the big leagues, but he obviously didn't understand the type of athlete he was dealing with in Ripken. That's not entirely his fault, either, because baseball players like Ripken simply didn't exist at that time. 6'3", 195 pound high school kids didn't project as major league shortstops because the prototype had never been discovered. They were pitchers, first baseman, third baseman, catchers, basically anything other than shortstops in the minds of scouts and front office personnel. Shortstop was reserved for smaller, quicker, defensive-minded players that hit at the bottom of the order.
Ripken eventually broke that mold and paved the way for larger-than-average infielders like Derek Jeter and Troy Tulowitzki to follow in his footsteps. But even the Baltimore Orioles, who drafted Ripken in the second round of the 1978, figured his best shot to reach the big leagues was pitching. They only allowed Ripken to try shortstop first because they figured it would be easier to transition him to a pitcher at a later time.
It turns out that was one of the best decisions in franchise history.
It was a game-changer for Baltimore, as they gained an all-star, MVP, and baseball's iron man. And it was a game-changer for baseball, as it changed the way players were scouted, evaluated and ultimately developed.
BLS H/N: For The Win
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