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Professional Scouting
How It Works

by: Bob Howdeshell
High School Baseball Web

This article will explain how the professional scouting system works. There are several levels of scouts, for each Major League Baseball team. While many aspects of professional scouting seems to be mystery to those of us on the outside the steps and order are essentially the same for each organization.

The Scouting Order
  • General Manager or Director of Operations
  • Director of Scouting
  • Assistant Director of Scouting
  • Special Assignment Scouts or Advance Scouts
  • National Crosschecker
  • Regional Scout
  • Area Supervisor
  • Part Time Scout
  • Associate Scout or "Bird Dog"

Not all Major League teams have scouts designated for each of these positions. For example, the Assistant Director of Scouting may be the National Crosschecker, or the National Crosschecker is also a Special Assignment Scout.

How This All Works .......
  • An associate scout or "bird dog" sees you play and files a report with the MLB club -- The associate scout recommends that his Area Supervisor come to see you play.

    Note: Associate scouts are usually unpaid volunteers that work directly for an Area Scout. Part Time scouts will sometimes work directly for an Area Supervisor, covering a portion of his territory.

  • The Area Supervisor will come to watch a player, at the recommendation of an Associate Scout or based on the reports from another Area Supervisor that may have seen the player at a tournament or showcase, in his territory.

    Note: Area Supervisors are many times assigned "Pro Coverage" where they scout and evaluate minor league talent. This is for the purpose of future trades, the rule five (5) draft, etc.

  • If the Area Supervisor determines that the player is good enough he may recommend that the Regional Scout or National Crosschecker come to see the player. All scouts file reports with the parent club after evaluating a potential future draft selection.

  • The National or Regional Crosschecker will fly in to see the player in a game situation, if at all possible. He will compare your ability to others he has seen from across the nation and report his findings.

    The National Crosschecker is responsible for comparing the prospect in Illinois with the one in Texas and another one in California, etc.

    National Crosscheckers will log many thousands of car and air miles over the course of one season.

    If the National Crosschecker thinks you have very early draft round selection potential, the Director of Scouting may come to see you play.

  • The Scouting Director is in charge of a MLB team's entire scouting operation, both domestic and foreign. He works closely with the front office staff. (General Managers or Director of Operations)

  • As the June draft approaches the MLB team may invite the player to their home stadium for a "pre-draft" workout.

    At this work-out all of the team's "top level" scouts will be evaluating the player. This usually will include the Special Scouts and Advance Scouts, the Scouting Director, National Crosschecker and probably the General Manager or Director of Operations.

  • The Scouting Director usually has the final say in where a player is selected in the draft, for his MLB team. After the first twenty (20) rounds (different with each club) the Scouting Director will rely on his staff to help him with the draft.

This is a simplified overview of how the scouting process works. Many players are drafted each year without having been seen by a National Crosschecker or Regional Scout. But NO early round selections are made without complete agreement and evaluation of the top level scouts, for that team.

In the later rounds players are drafted on the recommendations of an Area Scout that is trusted by the Director of Scouting. Few, if any players are ever drafted solely on the recommendation of an Associate Scout (bird dog).

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