Back when the news broke about the Hall of Fame's vast repository of scouting reports, baseball nerds freaked out. What was Frank Robinson's scouting report like? What was Brooks Robinson's scouting report like? What was Jeff Robinson's scouting report like? I had the autograph of one of those Robinsons growing up. Go on. Guess.
But all of that excitement was counterproductive, as the Hall of Fame's database was really just a retired, 73-year-old teacher using WebTV. You'd enter a query, and if Mildred was up, she would go to the kitchen, rummage through the boxes, find the scouting report for you, then manually type it in using a WebTV keyboard. If Mildred was up. And if Ice Road Truckers wasn't on. Turns out that wasn't very often, so the database was overtaxed and down a lot.
It's better now! So we get more scouting reports. And one of my favorites that I've found so far is Barry Zito's:
It's my favorite so far for a lot of reasons. First, and this has little to do with Zito, but I love that the "present/future" grades are also applied to "emotional maturity." Like, "This guy's a total dillweed right now (40), but eventually he'll learn the true meaning of Christmas when he volunteers at a soup kitchen in six years (65)." Scouting is weird.
But more importantly, this one is great because it skips past the pitcher Zito became with the A's and lands right on the pitcher who came over to the Giants.
Gun max: 87
Yup. On a really warm day, with a stiff breeze at his back. I've seen it.
Phone number: (Blank)
I don't have it, either. :(
Control is in strike zone most of the time. For young LHP shows very good change of pace. Curve at times is good when he throws it hard
The only thing that'll trip you up is the "young" part because the rest looks like it was written yesterday.
4 pitches - None which are pluses. No glaring weakness except his stuff is not there. All pitches below average
This one rings a little less true, as Zito clearly developed a plus curve at some point. Considering that he backs it up with an 83-m.p.h. fastball, it's probably one of the better curveballs in the game. But the "no glaring weakness" line? That's gold. Zito is Zito is Zito.
For his delivery + size, he should have better stuff. His father is thinking BIG money. For me he is a "A" draft -- 6th-8th round
Well, say, Papa Zito, from your thoughts to Peter Magowan's checkbook. Big money, indeed. It's amazing how big that contract still looks, even seven years into it and a couple of years into the big-television-money era.
Yet Zito is still effective. This scouting report was written as if it was a bad thing, but Barry Zito is still one of the 150 best starting pitchers in the world, and he belongs on a major-league roster.
Zito has regressed to the way he was in college. He probably has a dog-eared copy of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance in his backpack right now, the little scamp. But the funny thing is ... he's still an okay pitcher.
I'll never understand this game. I'm just glad they don't make you take a test or get a license before you write about it.