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Questions About Professional Baseball
And the High School Player

With: Greg Smith
Director of Scouting
Detroit Tigers

A nine-year veteran of the scouting ranks, Greg Smith was named the Tigers' Director of Scouting on August 26, 1996, with oversight of player development added in 2000. Directs the Tigers' amateur scouting staff with a focus on the annual June first-year player draft...has further duties as assigned by General Manager Randy Smith.

Served from 1990-96 as an area scout for the San Diego Padres, covering areas from Florida to Maryland...duties included cross-checking and participation in draft preparations and winter meetings.


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

Answer: Generally speaking, we begin scouting players near the age of Freshmen or Sophomores in High School.

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

Answer: Professional tryouts usually depend on each club. For me, unless it is an "invite only" camp, then I would not be overly concerned.

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

Answer: At what age to begin attending is really open for a case by case answer. It really depends on the kid and his development.

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: Sending letters to teams does not hurt, but the important issue is to answer and return any items sent by any professional club.

Question: If a letter is a good idea should a player include statistics from his high school and summer teams? Is sending "press clippings" from local newspapers, that include highlights, about a player a benefit?

Answer: Any type of info that you feel is important or helpful is appropriate to send to clubs.

Question: Is it a good idea for a high school player to make a videotape, of himself, in baseball situations and give it to a professional scout?

Answer: Video tapes or footage are also okay to send if so desired

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 a player is invited to a Major Showcase, Area Codes, Team One, etc, then I believe attending them would be in the player's best interest. Attending these events, helps both with colleges as well as pro clubs

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

Answer: The Tiger's usually cover the Main events, as mentioned above, the Area Codes, Team One, East Coast Showcase etc. A couple factors are who is running the event and what players are scheduled to attend.

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

Answer: The Area Codes are currently the biggest event to date. There are some other good ones as well.

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

Answer: A scout will notice any player that illustrates Major League ability or the potential to develop that ability thru work ethic and physical maturity.

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: A player's appearance is really a case by case type item. Certain scouts are very mindful of physical appearance, ie earrings etc. Of course, the safest route is to simply avoid the obvious attention getters.

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: Good scouts do not make it a habit of scouting a player's performance that given day. The focus is on the player's physical tools, arm strength, running speed, etc. These tools should be seen whether a player performs that day or not.

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

Answer: The make-up of a player is very important. Even though it may be the most difficult quality to see, it proves to be extremely important in terms of a player's path to the Major Leagues.

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

Answer: There is usually a great deal of communication between College coaches and Professional scouts.

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: The Psychological surveys are important to those clubs that utilize them, as do the Tigers, but these are not meant at all to determine a draft round for a player.

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

Answer: A player's medical history is also valuable info to an interested club. The Tigers have drafted players with previous injuries and surgeries. Each case is taken into account and all items are discussed accordingly.

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: Pre-draft workouts are also dependent on individual clubs. We tend not to hold very many, other clubs have alot of them. My preference is to see a prospect actually compete in a game. The Tigers since 1997, have only taken 2 players in the Top 5 rounds from a workout.

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

Answer: Draft and follow method is widely popular thru out the industry. The Tigers fall somewhere in the middle of the road. Our preference is to sign a player if we draft them.

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

Answer: Juco players are scouted equally by the Tigers compared to 4-yr guys and high school players.

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: A player's choice of school, is quite a dynamic one. There are many pros and cons to each. A Jr College is appealing because the player is eligible for the draft each year, while the 4yr player is eligible after his Jr year or Sr year only. The best choice for me, is for the player to go to a place where he will receive the opportunity to play.

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: Our Area Scouts play a pivotal role in our drafting of players. The majority of our drafted players are not seen by any other person than the scout that signs him. This is certainly true after the tenth round or so for most clubs.

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

Answer: Any young player with professional aspirations and potential, when asked by a Major League Club, should be very open and honest about his desires to sign a pro contract in order to begin his pro career.

Greg Smith
Director of Scouting
Detroit Tigers


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