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Archive for Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Heere a budding prospect

May 13, 2009

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Baseball scouts keep more than their eyes open when evaluating prospects. They also use their ears. They talk to a prospect’s parents, his coaches, past and present, his best friend, his girlfriend, his ex-girlfriend, his preacher.

A number of major league scouts recently have revved up their fact-finding missions on Kansas University right fielder and redshirt sophomore Brian Heere, the Jayhawks’ No. 3 hitter.

And then there is a certain part-time scout for the Milwaukee Brewers who is high on Heere as a player and person. He has grilled neither Heere’s high school football coach nor his college baseball coach. Why should he? He talks to both men nearly every day and ranks them among his all-time favorites.

Somehow, I doubt the scout talks to Heere’s high school baseball coach, unless he has a little Rickey Henderson in him. After getting dressed to kill, Rickey was known to look into the mirror and say, “Oh yeah, Rickey’s looking good today.”

We don’t know what Brad Stoll says to his mirror, but it’s probably one word, four letters, uttered only when he cuts himself shaving.

Stoll, Lawrence High baseball coach and beloved special education teacher, began working as an associate scout (aka bird dog) for the Milwaukee Brewers in 1998 and was promoted to part-time scout in 2002.

Scouts evaluate prospects based on five physical tools: speed, arm, hands (encompasses all non-throwing fielding attributes), hitting ability, power. They grade each tool on a scale of 20 to 80, with 50 being average. Stoll will show Heere’s number grades only to his Brewers bosses, but he did give a general idea of how he evaluates Heere as a major league prospect to play center field.

“The first thing you grade out is his speed,” Stoll said. “He’s been clocked under 3.8 on a drag bunt. He flat-out gets down the line. His speed is very good. That’s the phrase we use, ‘very good.’ The power would be near average. The hitting would be strong average. The arm would be strong average to good. Then the hands, the defense, would be strong average.”

Stoll loves Heere’s offensive versatility, especially now that he has learned to bunt playing for KU coach Ritch Price.

“He’ll drag bunt for a base hit and then drive the ball in the gap the next at-bat for a triple,” Stoll said. “The speed’s the first thing that jumps out at you. Then great body control, which is something scouts always look at. He’s not going to be a home run hitter, but he has shown some pop. He’ll stay on a ball and go the other way for a triple down the left field line and he’ll pull one for a triple.”

Heere’s what’s known as a gap-to-gap, pole-to-pole hitter. He has hit well against top Big 12 prospects, which will help his draft stock this June even more than his .363 batting average and .468 on-base percentage in conference games.

The Brewers include a category called, “chp,” Stoll said. It stands for, “Can he play?”

“He can flat-out play,” Stoll said. “When I talk to the Brewers about him, I say, ‘I’m telling you about him as a guy who works for you, not as his high school coach.’ ”

More than just the Brewers have Lawrence High’s former quarterback rated as a draftable prospect.

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