This is Dmitri Young. He was at the center of a classic Baseball America article that followed the St. Louis Cardinals during his draft season. The Cards sent one of their scouts (a 104-year old guy) to check him out and he “saw him good” which in baseball-speak means the kid clocked it while eyes were on him. He could hit, hit for power, ran well (really), was a patient hitter and had at least a passable arm.
He kicked the living daylights out of high school pitchers, going 11HR-31RBI-.425 in Oxnard California. The man could hit a ball. Hard.
Young took forever to make it to the show and was traded early and often in his big league career. He had the talent, the proverbial dollar sign on the muscle, but his major league career has been less than expected. And this kid came from gumption, his Dad being born into poverty, putting himself through HS and eventually became one of the U.S. Navy’s First African-American F14 fighter pilots. I find myself hoping Dmitri’s younger brother (Delman) has the career that old timey scout for the Cardinals saw those years ago.
In many ways, hockey scouting isn’t terribly different that the way baseball men look at young talent. Oh sure, the scouting report and grading system are slightly different but the bottom like is scouts are looking for size, speed, hands, smarts, gumption, passion, sacrifice, fundamentals or some combination of them when analyzing a young prospect. A mean streak wouldn’t hurt.
I’ve read many interviews over the years from scouts and when asked about stats they suggest things like “it’s a guideline” or “I usually have a look at the stats in order to tell how a player has been doing since I saw him last time.”
For the life of me I don’t understand why NHL teams don’t track time-on-ice, which players are on the ice against which players, goalies EV SP and many other things that simply have to be useful in evaluating a prospect. These things have value.
Look, I understand that when an Al Hillier is piling up points but is only 5.06 or Ron Chipperfield is lapping the field offensively but is slow as a church mouse that visual is pretty damn important. I also understand that the game has players whose stats don’t reflect their value (stay-at-home defenders and the like) or which of the scoring wingers in junior is going to turn into a solid checker. Watch the games. Talk to the family. Do the aptitude runs. Have the kid run until he pukes. I’m all for it.
But before all that is done, maybe it would be a good idea to make it a universal rule that in every league containing draft prospects you’re going to track TOI, shots on goal, EV SP for goaltenders and the other things that reflect player performance and should be used in evaluation.
The “saw him good” crowd seem to have a very powerful weapon on their side.