Round Two for Francona’s Comeback Kids?

The Cleveland Indians, of the American League Central, currently sit in third place with a record of 69-64. Surprisingly, this is the greatest number of games above .500 the Indians have been all season. Until recently, it had been a disappointing season for the Tribe, but it’s still possible for them to finish August with the exact same record they finished with last August. Last year, the Indians entered September 1st with a 71-64 record and lost their ace, Justin Masterson, two days into September. The Tribe went 20-5 after Masterson’s injury and finished the regular season on a 10 game win streak. A big reason for Cleveland’s great finish last year was the September domination of  both Scott Kazmir and Ublado Jimenez. Kazmir and Jimenez picked up for the loss of Masterson and pitched themselves to multi-million dollar deals this past winter. Masterson is no longer pitching in the American League and another member of the starting rotation last September, Zach McAllister, is currently pitching in Triple-A. Even so, these current Cleveland Indians have gone 12-5 in their last 17 games and have won 16 games in August. The reason for this nice run is, once again, their pitching staff.

Corey Kluber is having a Cy-Young type season and currently has the seventh highest WAR in all of Major League Baseball at 5.9 (According to Baseball Reference). Kluber practically stole the number one spot in the Tribe’s rotation earlier this year and, with Masterson out of the picture, Kluber is now the unquestioned number 1 and potential ace of the staff.  Kluber is joined in the Cleveland rotation by three, power throwing, right-handed pitchers. Danny Salazar, who came up and pitched very well down the stretch last season, is back up with the Tribe after losing a spot in the rotation earlier in the year and being sent down to Triple A. After working down in the minors for a few months, the Indians recalled Salazar on July 22nd and he has gone 4-2 with a 2.84 ERA in seven starts. The key for Salazar is the command of his fastball. He has a tendency to get it up in the zone and, even though he throws in the high 90’s, that will get hit. Trevor Bauer has thrown very well since he was called up to fill a spot in the rotation. This kid has a rubber arm and I honestly believe he will become the ace of the Cleveland Indians. He is an innings eater and consistently throws 110-120 pitches each start. He has a plus-plus fastball to go along with a plus curve ball that has the potential to be plus-plus. And then there is Carlos Carrasco; the last remaining member of a group of prospects the Indians received for Cliff Lee. Carrasco was given a rotation spot out of spring training, struggled mightily, and was sent to the bullpen where he shined. Out of desperation, the Indians gave him a start on August 10th against the Yankees and, after three more starts, Carrasco has given up only two runs in 23 2/3 innings pitched. It’s obvious that Carrasco has the stuff to be a solid starter in the big leagues but he has never quite figured it out. He threw well in the last handful of starts he made during the 2011 season before getting hurt and needing Tommy John Surgery. This forced Carrasco to miss all of 2012 and he spent half of 2013 in Triple A. If the rotation can keep throwing anywhere near the way they have thrown over the last 17 games, the Indians will be in the hunt for a playoff spot come the last week of September.

The Coveted Sponsorship: Scout Development Program 2014

My email to San Diego Padres Director of Amateur Scouting, Billy Gasparino:

Dear Mr. Billy Gasparino:

Hello Mr. Gasparino. My name is Jeremy Rochford and I currently work in the ticket office for the Lake Elsinore Storm. I am extremely interested in scouting and have been since I was a kid. In fact, the only reason I took the job in the ticket office was so that I could begin networking with scouts and player development personnel. I show up an hour before every shift so that I can watch the Storm take batting practice and hopefully speak with a scout or two. Once my shift ends, I immediately head down to sit with the scouts to scout the rest of the game. I am currently writing scouting reports on every player on the Storm roster. Last night, after the Storm game ended, I was able to speak with the owner of the Lake Elsinore Storm, Dave Oster, and I asked him if he had your email address. He explained to me that the email addresses of many of the Padres personnel was first initial followed by last name at Padres dot com. So I am really hoping you are able to receive this message. Throughout the year I have met dozens of scouts and have been lucky enough to pick the brains of some of them. I want to learn as much as possible about being a baseball scout and early on this season I was made aware of the Scout Development Program that the Major League Scouting Bureau conducts every year in October. Once I found out about the program, and that the only way to attend is to be sponsored by a scouting director, I immediately began pursuing all avenues to earn a sponsorship.

I started by purchasing the 2014 Baseball America Directory and making phone calls to the front office of all 30 Major League ball clubs. The intention of these phone calls was to obtain the email addresses of the scouting directors for each organization. However, many front offices declined to provide me with email addresses over the phone and instead transferred me to an answering machine. So I left messages explaining why I needed these email addresses. I left multiple messages to almost every organization, including the San Diego Padres, who had refused to provide me with email addresses over the phone. Unfortunately, I did not hear back from any organization for which I left voicemails. However, during my initial calls, I did receive the email addresses of the scouting directors from the Cincinnati Reds, Arizona Diamondbacks, New York Yankees, Seattle Mariners and Houston Astros. So I sent out emails to the scouting directors of each organization and received responses from the Senior Director of Professional and Global Scouting for the Cincinnati Reds, Terry Reynolds, and the Director of Pro Scouting for the Houston Astros, Kevin Goldstein. I was thankful to receive those responses, however both men explained to me that their organizations “scout school” spots were reserved for their interns and associate scouts. I totally understood that but it did not stop me from pursuing a sponsorship. I attended the second round of tryouts the Milwaukee Brewers held at USC for the Area Code Games in July and then attended all six days of the Area Code Games in Long Beach. My attendance at these games served two purposes: first, practice as much as I could and, second, earn a sponsorship to the 2014 Scout Development Program. At the games I was lucky enough to meet Miami Marlins Vice President of Scouting, Stan Meek. He was nice enough to allow me to email him my resume and scouting reports I wrote up on the 25 players who most caught my attention at the games. Unfortunately, I have not yet received a response from Mr. Meek.

The purpose of this email is to ask for the opportunity to interview for a possible sponsorship for the 2014 Scout Development Program. I understand that a sponsorship is an investment made by the organization that is not to be taken lightly. I also understand that there is much competition for these spots and that an organization is more inclined to sponsor those who are already somewhat affiliated with their baseball operations department, such as interns and associate scouts. However, I feel that an investment in me would provide the San Diego Padres with their greatest return on investment. I want to dedicate my life to the game of baseball and scouting is something I am truly pursuing as a career. I have been told by almost every scout that getting into the scouting industry is very difficult to do and that one needs to get lucky to make it happen. I have been working very hard, and will continue to do so, to put myself in a position to get lucky. I understand that you are very busy and that the Padres front office is going through some change, but I would truly appreciate the opportunity to interview with you in person or over the phone about a possible sponsorship for the Scout Development Program. I am attaching my resume and a report on the scouting industry that I wrote during my final semester of college. I had originally intended to interview scouts and place their most meaningful quotes within my report but I was not able to secure any interviews by the report’s due date. Therefore, the report ends abruptly but I intend to finish the last part of the report as soon as I can secure some interviews. I would also like to send you the scouting reports I wrote on the 25 players who most caught my attention at the Area Code Games, but the file is large so I would like your permission before I send it. I can be reached by phone at, (951) 440-1324 and email at, jeremyrochford00@gmail.com. I also started a blog illustrating my attempts at getting into the scouting industry and providing my opinions on the game of baseball in general. I started this blog back in June, after I graduated from California State University San Marcos, and the web address is, www.strikingoutlooking.wordpress.com. Thank you very much for reading this email, I truly appreciate it. This is something that is very important to me and I hope to hear back from you. Thanks again.

Sincerely,

Jeremy Rochford

The Coveted Sponsorship: Scout Development Program 2014

I attended the Area Code Games that took place in Long Beach, California from August 4th through the 9th. The Area Code Games are a week long showcase consisting of eight teams made up of the top incoming high school seniors from around the country. (However, there were some incoming juniors on these teams and actually there were three “underclass” teams that played in their own little showcase  August 8th-10th). The were a total of 20 games in six days and I watched every single one of them. I drove from Murrieta to Long Beach and back all six days, spending a total of $220 on gas, lost out on money I would have made working and put over 1,000 miles on my car (A 1992 Honda Accord that already had over 270,000 miles on it). So was it worth it? Definitely. I had a blast. It was a great experience and during those six days I really felt like I was an actual scout. That whole week I did not get any sleep, I spent at least 4 hours driving each day (traffic) and watched 12 hours of baseball a day. All three of the things I just mentioned are part of the job description of being a professional scout. The only difference is that actual scouts live like that almost every week of the year. But I LOVED it and all it did was increase my desire to become a professional scout. I want it now more than ever. The primary reason I attended the games was in the hope that I would meet a few scouting directors and prove to one of them that I was worth sponsoring for the Scout Development Program. On the first day I was able to meet the Vice President of Scouting for the Miami Marlins, Stan Meek. Mr. Meek was friendly and intently listened to my desire to earn a sponsorship for the Scout Development Program. He could have been like the other scouting directors that I had talked to through email and said, “our scout school spots are reserved for our interns and associate scouts.” However, he did not mention that and he told me to email him my resume. I was stoked; ecstatic really. I got home as soon as I could (about two hours) and immediately spent the next 40 minutes writing Mr. Meek an email.  (I couldn’t tell you how many hours I have spent during the past month writing emails just to not receive a reply) In the email I told Mr. Meek that I would follow up with him the next day, but every time I saw him he was talking with somebody. Mr. Meek had not responded to my email and I did not get the opportunity to talk with him that day, which made the drive home much longer. I was determined the next day (Wednesday), still without a response to my email, to talk with Mr. Meek. So when Mr. Meek was making his rounds I ran up to him and asked if he had received my email. He replied, “Yes.” I then asked him if it would be okay if I could send him scouting reports on the 25 players who most caught my attention during the games. He told me to email them to him and that was that. He was very short with me and I was bummed out. But I understood that he was very busy and so I was determined to impress him with the reports. My thinking was, and still is, “I know that I can do just as well, if not better, than most of the actual scouts here. But I need to prove it to the right person.” I spent the next four days determining who would be on my list of 25. Way more than 25 players caught my attention but writing an in-depth scouting report takes a long time (as I would later find out). I was, and still am, very proud of the reports that I wrote. I take great pride in everything that I do but especially when it comes to baseball because, other than my family and closest friends, nothing is more important to me. I told Mr. Meek that I would email him the reports Saturday night, which was the last day of the showcase. But as midnight came that Saturday night I was only about half way done with the reports and therefore decided to finish them the next morning. The hardest part of the reports was writing the pitcher’s reports. First off, I was able to see most pitchers only once, especially the top pitchers. I also do not have a radar gun. To compound matters, the best pitchers threw on the first two days (I was not aware of that going in) and during the first two days I sat about half way up behind home plate. I had never been to a showcase before and did not have a good idea of what to expect. All the scouts sit behind home plate but during the first couple days I was not sure how it worked. Do directors get the front rows? Does it go by experience or team? I did not want to be in a place I wasn’t allowed to be in so I settled for sitting in the middle, which is something I almost never do because I prefer to stand out and be noticed. By day three, after noticing that anybody can sit where they want, I was sitting in the front row. It was great because I was able to see the movement on each pitcher’s pitch and could look down at a stationary radar gun in front of me for the V-los. During those next four days my confidence in my ability to scout grew tremendously. I had always thought that I could scout, but sitting in the front row for those four days and being able to take everything in convinced me that not only can I scout, but I can scout very well. Sitting in the front row also allowed me to get up and show my face in front of all the scouts, many of who were probably wondering who the hell I was. From the outside looking in, being a scout is like being in a big fraternity. Everybody knows everyone, or at least they have an idea of who everyone is. But I did not know many people and I felt like the new kid in school, sitting all alone. I emailed my completed scouting reports to Mr. Meek that Sunday afternoon, hoping to receive any kind of response. I was hoping to receive some feedback on my reports but it has been nine days and still not response. Needless to say, I was pretty depressed all last week and that is why I haven’t posted about my experiences at the games until now. I am still not any closer to a sponsorship but I will NEVER give up. I just need a chance and the person who gives me that chance, to reference my idol Eminem, will have a fire lit under his ass.

The Coveted Sponsorship: Scout Development Program 2014

The only way for someone to be able to attend the Scout Development Program is if they are first sponsored by a Major League organization; specifically, by a scouting director from that organization. About a month ago San Francisco Giants pro scout Michael Kendall advised me to email a scouting director from every big league team. He told me that the contact information for the baseball operations department of each organization was available in the Baseball America Directory. So I quickly purchased a copy from Baseball America only to discover that the email addresses were not provided within the directory. What the book did provide was the front office phone number for each organization, and some organization’s even provided the actual number to their baseball operations department. I was not going to let the lack of email addresses within the directory stop me from getting in touch with scouting directors, so I spent the next few weeks calling the front office of each organization explaining my intention of attending the Scout Development Program. During these calls I asked if I could have the email addresses of that organization’s scouting directors; either their director of amateur scouting, director of professional scouting or director of international scouting. I was hoping to send an email attached with a cover letter and my resume to all 30 Major League organizations. Unfortunately, many organizations made it difficult by saying they could not provide me with any email address. I called all 30 organizations multiple times and only received the email addresses of scouting directors in five organizations: the New York Yankees, Seattle Mariners, Houston Astros, Cincinnati Reds and Arizona Diamondbacks. Most of the organizations that refused to provide me with email addresses instead directed me to a voice mail where I left a detailed message explaining my intention. As I expected, none of my calls were returned. Not even the San Diego Padres, an organization in which I am supposedly a part of, has contacted me back. Out of the 12 emails I was able to send out I received a response from only two scouting directors. The first response came from the Houston Astros Director of Professional Scouting Mr. Kevin Goldstein. I was thrilled to hear back from Mr. Goldstein because I have been reading his written work on baseball for years. In fact, he wrote a tremendous forward to the re-release of Dollar Sign on the Muscle, a book I have read multiple times since I purchased it, which provided me with added confidence to pursue a career in scouting. His background and the story he painted provided me  with a real life example of someone who did not play baseball professionally and yet still became a prominent force within the scouting industry. Mr. Goldstein informed me that the Houston Astros have already used their sponsorships for the Scout Development Program; which was a bummer to hear. However, he encouraged me to keep doing what I was doing and that I should attempt to catch on with an online baseball resource that could possibility use my input on players from the California League. That is a great idea, and one that I am currently pursuing, but my main goal is to still earn a sponsorship for the 2014 Scout Development Program. I am going to pursue a sponsorship until every spot has been filled up. The other director who responded back to me was Terry Reynolds, Director of Professional Scouting for the Cincinnati Reds. He was much shorter in his response and informed me that the spots Cincinnati has for the Scout Development Program are reserved for their interns and associate scouts. Once again, I was disappointed to hear that; especially because I sincerely believe that I can and will do a better job than any of Cincinnati’s current interns or associate scouts. I just need a chance. Really, I only need half of a chance. Like Eminem once said, “If I have half of a chance I’ll grab it”. Actually, I was really close to becoming an associate scout for Seattle Mariners Area Scouting Supervisor, Gary Patchett. When I first met him he offered to “take me under his wing”, which got me extremely excited. However, once he discovered that we both live in the same city he kind of reeled in that statement, and I understand. It does not make much sense for an area scout to have an associate scout that lives in the same city. Still, while I am disappointed that I have run into road block after road block I will continue doing anything and everything I can to earn a sponsorship for the upcoming Scout Development Program.

The Coveted Sponsorship: Scout Development Program 2014

I have spent the past four and a half months working in the ticket office for the Lake Elsinore Storm. At the Class A Advanced level, the Storm play in the hitter-friendly California League. I have been fortunate to personally watch many of baseball’s top prospects such as Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, Matt Olsen and Mark Appel. I show up to the ballpark at least one hour before my shift to watch batting practice and talk to scouts. Over the past few months I have been able to meet quite a few scouts and three of them have been very helpful. Michael Kendall, a pro scout for the San Francisco Giants, was one of the first scouts I met and was the first scout to have an actual conversation with me. Up to that point, the two or three scouts I had met provided me with only one word answers to my questions, and none had asked me questions about myself. Michael gave me positive feedback on my pursuit of becoming a baseball scout and he encouraged me to keep doing what I was doing; starting conversations with, and getting my face in front of, scouts. The only way to get into the baseball scouting industry is to network; especially if you did not play professionally. I had read that for years but it has constantly been reinforced to me by almost every scout I have met. Michael was the first scout to mention the Area Code Games to me, which begin this coming Monday, and I have been looking forward to attending ever since. In fact, three weeks ago, I even attended the Area Code tryouts in the Southern California region which were being held by the Milwaukee Brewers. Another scout who has been very helpful is Gary Patchett. Gary is an Area Scouting Supervisor for the Seattle Mariners and played parts of eight seasons in Triple A. Just like Michael, I have been able to bounce questions of off Gary and he provided me with eight pages worth of copies from the Scout Development Program manual. Gary once attended the Scout Development Program and provided me with some more insight on it; which only increased by desire to earn a sponsorship for the program this fall. Earning a sponsorship for the 2014 Scout Development Program is my number one goal and I have been, and will continue, working as hard as I can to make it happen. The other scout that has been very helpful to me is Demond Smith. Demond was friendly and very positive when I told him about my pursuit to attend the Scout Development Program this fall. Demond played professional baseball for 18 years and did not attend the development program, but he encouraged me and said that if I really wanted to become a scout I could definitely make it happen.