Blengino: Area scouts, the home visit, and the Phillies/Wetzler affair

From SABR member Tony Blengino at FanGraphs on February 25, 2014:

It was only a matter of time. The team turned out to the Phillies, but it could have been anyone, and the player turned to be Oregon State LHP Ben Wetzler, though it too could have been anyone. The disconnect between the NCAA rules and the reality governing the mating ritual between major league clubs and amateur prospects ensured that it would eventually come to this, with a player’s eligibility being compromised for doing what the vast majority of players in his position have done without incident, in the simple course of doing business. 

Depending on one’s home base, an area scout can basically set his calendar a year in advance. I was based in the Northeast in my area scouting days, so we’ll use my calendar as a frame of reference. Just days after the annual Rule 4 draft, an initial follow list of top prospects for the next year’s draft is filed. Throughout the summer, while mixing in high school prospect showcases, college summer wood bat league games, coverage of minor league teams and tryout camps, you begin to visit the homes of the top prospects in your area, starting the process of getting to know the prospect and his family. Once school resumes, college scout day workouts begin, while the home visits with prospects continue. In the winter, it’s too cold to play, but you attend some indoor player workouts, while the home visits go on.

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Originally published: February 25, 2014. Last Updated: February 25, 2014.