Scouts eye young talent in first-of-its-kind showcase

August 24th, 2023

For high school athletes, the path to the MLB Draft runs through showcases.

These events, populated with scouts, talent evaluators and college coaches, bring together the top high school talent in the country to show off their skills. While they are a proven way for players to develop and gain exposure, they come with a hefty price tag, one that many can’t afford to pay.

On Wednesday, MLB Develops, in tandem with Northeast area scouts and Next Level Baseball in Boston, welcomed 99 baseball players for a free showcase with one purpose: To give exposure to those who can’t attend dozens of high-profile showcases throughout the summer.

“The basic premise is for us as scouts to be able to identify and interact with young players before they’re prospects and get them on the radar in a way that’s not in a big showcase where they have to spend a lot of money,” said Matt Hyde, the Northeast area scout for the Yankees.

Hyde’s brainchild was the first Northeast Scouts Clinic, a two-session daylong event held at Roxbury Latin Day School featuring instruction from nine Major League scouts and participants from across New England.

The early session -- seventh, eighth and ninth graders -- was run as a clinic. Hyde and the other scouts split the attendees into position groups, teaching them techniques to heighten their game.

“[I learned] how to move my legs and be more stable, and mobilize more and be quicker,” said 14-year-old outfielder Christopher Amarante, who was participating in his first event in front of scouts.

After fielding, the group took batting practice and finished the day with baserunning drills.

The Northeast Scouts Clinic was the brainchild of Yankees area scout Matt Hyde.Natalie Reid/MLB

“The first session was more of an instructional clinic type,” Hyde said. “We got to work with them and also interact, and it was much more developmental based.”

The second half of the day was reserved for 10th, 11th and 12th graders, and was focused on evaluation rather than instruction. The group started by running 60-yard dashes, followed by extended infield/outfield practice and then a live game.

“What we’re trying to accomplish is showing them how to try out for a team,” Hyde said. “Kind of a look behind the curtains of how we do things, and to raise the comfort level in them on what they have to prepare for to stand out and make a good impression.”

The roster in the second group brought in some high-level talent from around the Boston area, as well as players who made the trip from New York. Among the group was Jayden Stroman, the brother of Cubs pitcher Marcus Stroman, Kaleb Traylor, a member of MLB’s Breakthrough Series summer team, and Masai Marshall, a 6-foot-3 185-pound outfielder who is committed to Northwestern.

“The atmosphere of running the 60 with all of the coaches at the end, that’s always a great experience,” Stroman said. “Just being out here and being able to be with these coaches and stuff like that, it’s just a really great opportunity because it’s not something you get to do super often.”

Stroman is set to follow in his brother's footsteps and attend Duke University upon graduating in 2025. The event on Wednesday was his first in a few weeks, as he has been recovering from an injury.

While Stroman, Marshall and Traylor have spent the summer traveling to showcases, the accessibility of this new event welcomed an entirely new demographic of first timers.

“I’ve never really played in Boston, but meeting these guys, they can really play out here,” Marshall said.

In addition to the affordability, what made the event different was that it was run by the scouts. The players are used to seeing scouts in the stands, but picking their brains and learning from them hands-on is a rarity.

“I thought today went really well,” said Stephen Octave, the Northeast area scout for the White Sox. “I was excited to talk to some of these kids. We don’t really get many opportunities to have conversations with kids while they’re doing showcase events, so it’s cool to build a personal connection.”

Moving forward, Hyde and the rest of the scouts hope to use this same structure to bring showcases to other inner-city communities across the country.

“I think it would be awesome to grow this and continue to grow the game,” Hyde said. “These kids are the future of our game and I think the more we can do to help spark an interest and ignite a passion. … That’s our duty as baseball people to keep building the game and drawing great players to it.”