Long before baseball’s scouting bureau, the bird dog scout roamed. I always pegged the species as wearing a Hawaiian button down, sun glasses and sitting in a lawn chair, maybe a stop watch around his neck. He drove a big car, the back seat filled with reams of data. He traveled the country side in search of players. Those days, those olden golden days are, of course, gone or maybe they aren’t?
I was watching the Yankees-Phillies game a few days ago and the announcer told a story of Yanks pitcher and Nicaraguan native Jonathan Loaisiga being signed as an amateur free agent by the Giants and then released three years later. The story fasts forward to an evening in the Dominican Republic. Loaisiga was pitching and the Yankees international scout was watching, then drooling, and finally phoning back home to Yankee land, at 3 AM insisting that they sign him and they did. He was called up at some point this season. He’s started three games. The Yankees have won all three, Loaisiga two. It’s early. He’s only pitched 14 innings, but 18 k’s and a 1.286 WHIP ain’t too shabby.
Loaisiga is one of hundreds, if not thousands of pitchers who look good, real good. They fill up high school and university rosters. Many of them are drafted and begin the long climb out of obscurity. They are as plentiful as aluminum cans. But most end up selling vacuum cleaners or some such trade because they get injured or never develop. Blame it on the pitching coach or destiny or the wind….who knows?
I’m not sure how the Brewers compare in developing pitchers to other organizations. But two names that come to mind – Teddy Higuera and Ben Sheets were signed and drafted respectively and they shined. Then there’s Wily Peralta. He was highly regarded and showed signs of success as a member of the Brewers starting staff. He earned a spot for four consecutive years, but in the fifth, the wheels fell off and he started getting shelled. He now pitches for the Royals in their AAA affiliate.
Speaking of the Royals, the Brewers are hosting them for a quick two game interleague match up and another Peralta, Freddy, another top Brewers prospect (we actually got him in a trade with Seattle for Adam Lind) was on the hill last night. It wasn’t his first start as a Brewer, but it was his first at Miller Park. His family was on hand to watch him pitch seven innings of one hit ball with 10 K’s. Got the win too. Alright, so it was against the rebuilding Royals, but still something to celebrate. Peralta’s total stats this year look mighty impressive…..22.2 IP, 35 K’s and only 7 hits allowed, a 1.59 ERA and .786 WHIP.