Jennings Interview

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Major League Baseball Scouting

 


Dan Jennings
Director of Scouting
Tampa Bay Devil Rays


Question: At what age do you start watching a player? (i.e. youth summer tournaments / varsity high school baseball)?

Answer: 13 / 14 summer youth tournaments

 
Question: How important is it for a high school player to attend a professional team's open try-out day?

Answer: Very important. It gives the organization an opportunity to know the player and to begin establishing history on the kid.

 
Question: At what grade in school should a player attend their first "try-out" day? (i.e. 9th grade, 10th grade, etc.)

Answer: Summer after their 9th grade year. It has always impressed me for a 14 or 15 year old kid to come out and compete.

 
Question: Is it a good idea for a high school player to send a letter of introduction to a professional team? Much the same as he might to a college coach.

Answer: NO These get lost in the shuffle.

 
Question: With the increasing number of "Showcase" events, in recent years .... How important is it for a player to attend this type of event?

Answer: If affordable these are easy ways to get a lot of exposure, by all the MLB teams - But it is certainly not necessary.

 
Question: How do you decide (as an organization) which showcase events to cover?

Answer: We try to cover them all to some capacity.

 
Question: Which showcase events do you personally consider to be the best? From a professional MLB team's perspective.

Answer:

  1. East Coast Pro
  2. Perfect Game Events
  3. Area Code Games

 
Question: What is the best way for a high school player to get noticed by a professional scout?

Answer: Attend try-out camps in the summer, these camps are to build an area scouts follow list first and foremost. If they sign someone that is icing on the cake - get the young player in.

 
Question: How important is a player's physical appearance? I do not mean is he 6'-1" tall and weigh 200 pounds. What I am referring to is tattoos, body piercing, odd hair styles, manner of dress, etc. Are any or all of these a "negative" when a pro scout sees a player ?

Answer: You have only one chance to make a first impression. - Image is perception, perception is everything.

 
Question: If a player has a bad day ... when a professional scout is in the stands watching him for the first time .... Does that mean it is "over" as far as that pro team is concerned?

Answer: Maybe for that team. Hopefully that scout will go back for another look. Remember the player only has to impress 1 scout to be drafted.

 
Question: How important is a player's "attitude appearance" when in a game and at practice?

Answer: It tells me everything about his maturity level - both psychologically and mentally.

 
Question: Do college coaches and professional scouts ever talk to one another about prospective high school players?

Answer: YES

 
Question: How important are the psychological tests in regard to where a player may be drafted, in which round, or if he will be drafted at all?

Answer: These tests are very important to some teams. The Devil Rays do not administer these tests.

 
Question: How important is a player's past medical history in regards to a potential draft round? Same question for the vision tests.

Answer: VERY -- These are reviewed by a medical staff, looking for "red flags", either now or in the future.

 
Question: How important is it for a player to attend a "pre-draft" workout - if he is invited? Is it possible for a player to be drafted in the first 5 rounds without attending a pre-draft workout?

Answer:

  1. Very important, this will allow the scout to answer any further questions that remain. If a player is invited that tells you the scout has major interest in the player and probably has him on his draft list.

     

  2. Yes it is possible to be drafted in the top 5 -- but it sure says a lot about the player if he's invited and shows up or not.

 
Question: How important is the "draft and follow" method to your organization? Do you utilize this process much?

Answer: Important to us, we utilize the "draft and follow" process as an extension of our player development system. We purposely "d & f" 15 to 20 kids each draft.

 
Question: How important are junior college players to your organization's draft strategy each year?

Answer: We line players up according to ability 1st and foremost

 
Question: If a high school player has the option of attending a very good junior or community college versus a small four (4) year school what factors make one choice better than another? ( I am referring to baseball programs -- not the academic institutions)

Answer:

  1. Go where you are wanted
  2. Go where you are going to get playing time!

 
Question: Do players get drafted that have not been seen by an individual team's cross checking ("cross checker") scout? In other words on the recommendation of an area / associate scout only?

Answer: They do here and we've made some very good drafts this way.

 
Question: What other tips or advice can you give a high school player that would rather "go pro" than play in college?

Answer:

  1. Make up your own mind
  2. Work hard and pursue your dream If there is 1% doubt -- Don't Sign!
  3. HAVE FUN
  4. Learn the Game
  5. Be honest with the area scout - If you want to sign - great - let him know - if you don't want to sign, please have enough respect for the game, scout and organization to tell them before the draft.

    Dan Jennings
    Director of Scouting
    Tampa Bay Devil Rays

     

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