Check out these never-before-seen amateur scouting reports of Bryce Harper and Mike Trout
Bryce Harper and Mike Trout are almost always the first two choices in the "If you are starting a franchise tomorrow, who do you select?" draft, and have been for a few years. But the two arrived in pro ball with varied amounts of hype. Harper was deemed a once-in-a-lifetime talent in his mid-teens, then opted out of high school so he would be eligible for the Draft earlier and was selected first overall by the Nationals in 2010. Trout, perhaps because he attended high school in New Jersey -- not a typical talent hotbed -- was the 25th overall pick a year earlier.
Clearly both were considered top talents in their amateur days. But what did the scouts who saw Harper and Trout in their formative years have to say? Today we are excited to unveil excerpts of their never-before-seen scouting reports from the MLB Scouting Bureau.
It's illuminating to see just how close the scouts were to predicting how these players would perform in the Majors. Here were two high schoolers -- Harper barely old enough to drive -- and yet they were already pegged as future stars by big league evaluators. Still, because they were developing players, you can see the big differences just a few months could make.
Here are the projected grades for Mike Trout in May 2008:
And here are those grades in March 2009, just a few months before the Draft. Almost all the grades have trended up:
In that few months, Trout went from a player that was expected to hit only 8-12 home runs (though one that still featured the comment "Sky's the limit"), to one expected to knock out totals in the mid-20s every year. Somehow even that report undercut his potential as he has hit 30-plus home runs twice already and is currently on pace to hit 42.
His swing certainly was pretty close to Major League-ready:
Not that there was ever any doubt on his overall value. His first scouting report noted that he was (and here we paraphrase from the scout shorthand, which is kind of like texting without the use of emojis), "Fun to watch play. Can only get better. Will create a stir." And in 2009, he was described as: "He's a ballplayer, easy to write up. A 5-tool player ... Versatile enough to play 3B/2B."
The scout may also have made a terrible error in admitting something that the CIA had hoped to cover up:
That's right, that is independent proof that human cloning has been perfected and is being used to produce Major League athletes. Or that Trout had Hall of Fame potential. But I'm sticking with the cloning thing.
But it doesn't end there. While Trout could have been a middle infielder, he was also part-time pitcher in high school, though he was pegged as a non-prospect. Which means, hold your breath: Trout could one day show up on the mound during a blowout and surprise us all with a 95-plus-mph fastball.
Not only that, but Trout experimented with switch-hitting because of his father, a Minor League player. Though Trout never tried it out in game action, only showing off for scouts when they asked before games and during batting practice, he does have one highlight as a lefty. Said Trout:
Sadly, according to the center fielder:
Meanwhile, the reports of the 16-going-on-17 Harper are filled with the types of words you don't see scouts use very often: "Premium." "Freakish." "All-Star ability."
And then just look at this collection of 7's that were put on Harper:
Though his swing would require a little work, like Mozart's first compostion at the age of four, you could see a glimpse of what was to come:
In another scouting report, his arm was called a "howitzer." Which the world first got to see when he threw from the left-field corner to home on one hop, even if he didn't get the out:
They also pointed out that he had big forearms, which, hey, those look like potato sticks compared to the artillery he would debut in 2015.
While Harper's bat forced him out from behind the dish, so the Nationals could get the "Josh Hamilton type prospect" into their lineup quicker, scouts were pretty enamored with the skills they saw there. One report claimed that his raw arm strength was in the "top three" he had ever seen, with another noting the skills he had at framing, blocking and receiving the ball.
All of them mentioned that he was a future All-Star, saying it was "not a matter of if he'll make it, but when," and that his skills were "hard to find on a Major League field much less an amateur one."
While this year's Draft apears to be loaded with more depth than generational talent, that's always hard to guarantee. After all, humans are little chaos machines in which the actual future rarely matches our dream of it. Anything can happen.
In the case of Harper and Trout, though, the dream came true.
Live Draft coverage from MLB Network's Studio 42 begins Monday at 6 p.m ET., with the top 75 picks being streamed on MLB.com and broadcast on MLB Network
(Additional reporting by Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com)