Lindbergh: What did scouts say about Tony Gwynn in college?

From SABR member Ben Lindbergh at Baseball Prospectus on June 17, 2014:

On today’s episode of Effectively Wild, Sam Miller and I responded to Tony Gwynn’s untimely passing by discussing some of our favorite statistical fun facts from the Hall of Famer’s one-of-a-kind career. One of Sam’s was Gwynn’s 1981 batting average in 99 plate appearances at Double-A Amarillo: .462 (42-for-91). Yes, that’s a small sample, but consider the kicker that makes it even more impressive: The 21-year-old Gwynn was in his first professional season. Drafted in June, he’d hit .331/.406/.612 in 42 games for Walla Walla in the Low-A Northwest League before being bumped up to the Texas League.

Sam and I wondered how a hitter who would tear up Double-A in his draft year and hit well in the majors a year later could remain on the board until the third round, when the Padres selected him with the 58th overall pick. Signability concerns may have had something to do with it; Gwynn, a highly recruited high school basketball player, excelled at point guard for San Diego State, where he hadn’t played baseball until his sophomore year. On the day the Padres popped him, the San Diego Clippers also selected him in the 10th round of the NBA draft.

However, if teams saw Gwynn as a future Hall of Famer, one of them would have taken a chance on him sooner, even if he’d had hoop dreams. The scouts must have missed to some extent, maybe because Gwynn had a poor arm and lacked a projectable frame.

We can’t view the Gwynn reports turned in by every scout, but we can see what a single scout said. The Hall of Fame’s Diamond Mines database contains one report on Gwynn as an amateur, filed by Astros scout Gordon Lakey just before draft day. I’ve embedded it below. (Click on the image to expand it, or click here to view it at Diamond Mines.)


Read the full article here:

Related link: Learn more about the Hall of Fame’s Diamond Mines scouting exhibit and database

Originally published: June 17, 2014. Last Updated: June 17, 2014.