Before Marcus Stroman pitches in the ALCS, take a look back at his scouting report from 2012
Just a few years before Marcus Stroman captivated the baseball world, his baseball prowess was known only to those who followed amateur baseball. In the spring of 2012, he was a pitcher for Duke University who captured the interest of enough scouts to ultimately get selected by the Blue Jays as the 22nd pick in the first round of the Draft that June. Tonight, he will make his second start of this postseason.
In advance of Stroman's start in tonight's high-stakes ALCS Game 3 (8 ET on TBS/Sportsnet), let's take a look back at MLSB scouting reports from 2012 to see what scouts saw in him when he was still a college pitcher.
Today we know Stroman to be an exciting, high-energy starter.
Is this how he has always been? What did the scouts see in Stroman? Did they know he was a guy who would one day become an established postseason starter? Or did they have doubts about his ability to make it to this level?
The first thing that stands out about these four-year-old scouting reports is something that would stand out to anyone watching Stroman for the first time today: He's small.
Scouting reports often feature the acronym OFP, which stands for "overall future projection." The OFP is based on the 20-80 scouting scale where 50 is an average Major Leaguer, 80 is the elite of the elite and 20 is a Minor League role player. Both scouting reports here gave Stroman OFPs of over 50, which indicates that the evaluator thought he had the potential to develop into an above average Major Leaguer. However, the evaluators immediately followed this up by knocking down his OFP because Stroman is a "badly undersized RHP".
In these reports he's listed as 5-foot-9 and his height is listed on Toronto's roster as 5-foot-8. One of the most famously successful "short" right-handed pitchers was Pedro Martinez, and he was listed at 5-foot-11 -- three inches taller than Stroman. His size would be the first question Stroman would have to answer.
The fact that he was ultimately selected in the first round, despite his height, is evidence that scouts liked what they saw when Stroman took the mound. After all, height doesn't measure heart.
Look at the evaluations below to see the scout's thoughts on Stroman's arsenal and his future (click to enlarge):
There are two big takeaways here. First, the scout loved his "wipeout" slider, which he called Stroman's "best weapon." The slider remains one of the pitcher's best offerings to this day. The second thing that jumps out, however, is the other big knock against Stroman: His fastball was "rather flat & straight." Major League hitters can hit straight fastballs no matter the velocity, so this was a big red flag.
Fast-forward to Stroman in the year 2016, and the four-seam fastball that the scouts were concerned about is largely non-existent. Instead, he developed a sinking fastball that moves down and arm-side.
He's also developed a cut-fastball which breaks like a short, hard slider.
Scouts are tasked with the impossible: projecting how a player will perform years from now. If Stroman hadn't found success with the sinker and cutter, perhaps he would have been a "short reliever" "with set-up man potential" as the reports suggested. Instead, he capitalized on being an "intelligent" pitcher with "solid average to plus make-up" who "will figure things out" and made the adjustments necessary to reach the Majors as a starting pitcher.
When Stroman takes the field tonight, he'll be the same short, energetic pitcher scouts saw at Duke University four years ago, but he'll also be a fundamentally different pitcher due to the experience, hard work and pitch repertoire refinement he's developed during his professional career.