HOUSTON -- The Astros believe they have moved to the forefront of analytical advance scouting this winter by making a significant upgrade to their video capabilities, as well as hiring Tom Koch-Weser to be the team's coordinator of advance information.
Koch-Weser comes to the Astros from the Mariners, for whom he had worked in a similar capacity after being employed by the Brewers. Houston assistant general manager David Stearns said it's another step in the Astros' commitment to being industry leaders in the field of analytics.
"The impetus for this position was we have a tremendous amount of data now, we have a tremendous amount of information when you combine all the stuff our analytics group is doing with our video scouting apparatus and all the things that are happening in the clubhouse," Stearns said. "What Tom will contribute is combine the information, putting it in a digestible format, and make sure that the coaching staff is getting a synthesized report with actionable information. Our goal is to have the best advance information in the industry. I think we have the tools to make that happen."
Instead of traveling ahead of the Astros and scouting upcoming opponents as a traditional advance scout, Koch-Weser will travel with the club and provide analysis of those opponents through video and statistical information. Houston spent about $300,000 upgrading the club's video equipment, including new high-definition cameras at Minute Maid Park and new angles behind the plate for advance scouting.
The information will be broken down by Koch-Weser and given to the players and the coaching staff.
"Advance reporting is really an amalgamation of a ton of different information and a lot of different work from a lot of people," Stearns said. "You have scouts out in the field who are looking at teams, you have a lot of analytics guys crunching the numbers and looking at tendencies, and then you have coaches and video scouts looking at video of upcoming opponents. It's an overwhelming amount of information."
The key, Stearns said, is to be able to put it in a format that's practical for the team to use. Enter Koch-Weser.
"He's had some of the best training that you can have in the industry in advance work," Stearns said. "He originally started with the Brewers, and they've done a really spectacular job there cultivating advance scouts throughout the industry. We did an extensive search for this position, and we think it's an important position. Tom's name surfaced multiple times as really a rising star in the advance world."
Last year, assistant hitting coach Dan Radison did a lot of the advance work, with help from baseball operations assistant Pete Putila and pro scouting coordinator Kevin Goldstein. Putila and Goldstein will still be involved, but Koch-Weser is the point man for the team's advanced scouting operation.
"He's going to coordinate it, he's going to design it, he's going to work daily with our coaching staff to make sure the proper information is getting in their hands," Stearns said.
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.