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NCAA Regionals bring scouts for final impressions

MLB.com

The usual axiom is that the first impression is the most important. But in the case of scouting amateur players, could the final look trump that old adage?

This past weekend, a good number of college players very much in the first-round mix were still playing in NCAA Regionals. One scouting executive was quick to point out that not too much weight should be put into a game or two at the very end of a long evaluation process.

The usual axiom is that the first impression is the most important. But in the case of scouting amateur players, could the final look trump that old adage?

This past weekend, a good number of college players very much in the first-round mix were still playing in NCAA Regionals. One scouting executive was quick to point out that not too much weight should be put into a game or two at the very end of a long evaluation process.

"Every team has a different look at that," the executive said. "In our mind, it's purely validation. It won't impact it any other way. If we have the guy in the second round and he throws a clunker, he's still our guy in the second round."

Regionals aren't attended by the higher-ups. The decision-makers -- national scouts, scouting directors and general managers -- are in Draft rooms, leaving coverage of Regionals to area scouts. Reports are received, but they're only going to go so far.

The executive did agree that there are exceptions to that rule. The one big one is a guy coming off of an injury, trying to show he's healthy. That was the case with TCU lefty Brandon Finnegan, who was having as good a year as any college pitcher before missing time with shoulder soreness. He returned, but didn't look like the dominant southpaw who took the mound every Friday early in the season, leading some to wonder if he was still hurt.

Finnegan may have assuaged those concerns with his Regional start on Friday. Facing Siena, he went 7 1/3 innings, allowing just one run on four hits and one walk, while striking out 12. Granted, this isn't the same situation as Jeff Hoffman or Erick Fedde, who underwent Tommy John surgery, so the worry wasn't of a tremendous magnitude.

"If he wasn't fully scouted and he missed a month and a half, then he came back, maybe a team would have questions," the scouting executive said. "Everyone saw Finnegan before he got hurt. It's a low-risk injury, long-term. He came back and threw fine."

The one other college pitcher who might have helped himself, or at least cemented himself in a certain spot, is Vanderbilt's Tyler Beede. While there isn't any question the right-hander is a first-rounder, some inconsistencies this spring have led some to wonder exactly where he fits. His eight innings of shutout ball against Xavier, including 14 strikeouts, may not have convinced anyone not on Beede to take a closer look, but it's hard to imagine any team that is interested in him not being encouraged by his last outing.

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com and writes a blog, B3. Follow