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Private workouts provide another kind of last look

MLB.com

Beyond NCAA Regional play and postseason in other smaller divisions, the amateur baseball season is pretty much over. So what's a team to do if it wants to see a player just one more time?

The answer is simple: Invite them over. As the Draft nears, teams have been flying in many players to put them through their paces in a larger setting.

Beyond NCAA Regional play and postseason in other smaller divisions, the amateur baseball season is pretty much over. So what's a team to do if it wants to see a player just one more time?

The answer is simple: Invite them over. As the Draft nears, teams have been flying in many players to put them through their paces in a larger setting.

Workouts in big league stadiums are nothing new. Some are publicized, like the one the Astros had on Monday, with local talent who had been seen by area scouts, but not crosschecked. Others are more private, though word often gets out, giving decision-makers a chance to see what a player they might like as a first-round selection looks like in the home park.

"Eyeballs tell you something when you see it," one scouting director said. "Eyeballs mean something. If a guy hits them really far, it can skew you to a degree. Some teams have dozens of guys in for workouts. We had five guys in recently. I think there are clubs where the workout is where the front office/crosscheck people see them and make a call on them."

It's only human nature, really. A top-pick candidate is in a team's mix and he's invited in to show what he can do. Then in front of the general manager, the scouting director, perhaps one or two other high-level scouts (who are otherwise hunkered down in Draft rooms), he puts on an absolute show. No matter how thorough and long-term-evaluation minded a scout is, there's no way that doesn't have an impact.

"I concur," the scouting director said. "We had a player come in and he hit balls where no one else has hit them. I'd like to say it validated where we took him, but it may have put him above where he would've been."

Back in 2012, Carlos Correa reportedly dazzled at Minute Maid Park in a workout. It wasn't right then and there when the plan was hatched for the Astros to take Correa No. 1 and use the savings to sign players like Lance McCullers and Rio Ruiz. But that workout performance might have clinched the deal, not just because he looked like he belonged on the field, but because the powers that be got to sit down and talk with Correa as well.

"Workouts help, but it's more to get to know a kid than the actual workout," one national crosschecker said.

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