Cleveland Indians Scout, Phil Nicoletti gives some great insight into what he looks for in an aspiring major leaguer beyond baseball skills.
1. As a MLB scout when I attend a game I am not always looking for the potential prospect to shine. Yes, it is always nice to see a player that you are looking at go 4-4, but you already know this guy has tools or you would not be looking at him. But, how does he handle failure? I personally want to see a player fail before I make my final write-up on a guy. I want to see how a guy carries himself after going 0-4 with 3 K’s. Does he hang his head? Does his temper get the best of him? Does he take his failures at the plate with him to the field? All of these things are critical questions I ask myself before writing a final report on a guy.
2. One thing that I have always believed in, and one thing I have always been taught is RESPECT for the game… I have written off potential prospects on this factor alone… I do not care if a guy has all of the talent in the world… if he does not respect the game, his opponents, teammates, and umpires, I do not want him. Nobody is bigger than the game, and I always tell players, ” You can’t cheat, or disrespect the baseball Gods… they are always watching.”
3. Remember you never know who is watching from the stands. Nobody likes to go to a game and see a guy cursing, throwing their equipment, or bad-mouthing the other team. I tell guys to act on the field as if they were in their own homes. I do not care to see guys wearing jewelry, baggy uniforms, pants tucked into their cleats, or pulled over their cleats. It’s a privilege to wear the uniform, not a right!
4. Hustle is another key ingredient I look for in a player. When a guy dogs it down the baseline or walks off the field, I write this down as a red flag. There is no excuse to not hustle. I never like to see a guy walking on the baseball field. My rule is my guys must always beat the other team onto and off of the field. It should take no more than 7 seconds to come off the field.
5. Baseball Etiquette… I believe in baseball etiquette, and very much dislike seeing guys playing catch in front of the dugout, playing with un-tucked jerseys, crooked hats, or dirty uniforms. Using the right language when on the field.. Knowing baseball terminology.. Pitchers warming up in the bullpen with jackets on, wearing batting gloves on your throwing hand, etc.. All of these things make a huge impact on scouts.. And as an aspiring professional it’s important to remember you only have one chance to make a first impression on a scout.
Phil is in his third year as an Associate Area Scout for the Cleveland Indians Baseball Organization. He also runs a pitching academy out of El Paso Texas, where he is in his first year as assistant coach for the El Paso Diablos (an independent professional team). Originally from the East Coast, Phil grew up in Lynn, Massachusetts where he attended Lynn English High School. Phil still holds the school’s all-time record for strikeouts in a game and strikeouts in a single season.