Without the scouts, your guess is as good as mine as to the structure of the game of baseball.
They find talent around the world, and they make recommendations as to who will fit into an organization. That recommendation is based on a myriad of variables, from natural ability to personality on and off the field. The scouts supply the pieces to the jigsaw puzzle that are the 25- and 40-man major league rosters as well as the minor league system.
Josh Boyd enters his fifth season with the Texas Rangers, his third as the organization's director of professional scouting. He evaluates talent in the major and minor leagues as well as in pro baseball in Japan and Korea. Boyd has experienced the evolution of Rangers baseball operations with a strong emphasis on minor leagues and player development (and that's still the case) to the current state of the ballclub.
"You set the standard higher with back-to-back trips to the World Series. Now, you're looking at what pieces can we give to Wash [manager Ron Washington] that are going to make an immediate impact," Boyd said in a recent visit on Rangers Magazine (Saturday 10-11 a.m. on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM).
One of those "pieces" is Yu Darvish. Boyd played an instrumental role in the scouting and recommendation of Darvish. Boyd is in Surprise, Ariz., for Rangers spring training and has observed Darvish early in camp.
"He's got incredible presence. The size of him is impressive in itself," Boyd said about Darvish, who is listed at 6-5 and 216 pounds. "So far, from what you can take from workouts, bullpen, live BP, it's been what we'd expect. He's done a good job of interacting with the club and making a quick, positive first impression."
There are also pieces who could make an impact whether they break camp with the big club or affect the team at some point later this season. Lefties Joe Beimel and Mitch Stetter are in this category. So are first basemen/outfielders Brad Hawpe and Conor Jackson. Hawpe's name certainly has been involved in trade rumors over the years.
"Hawpe and Conor Jackson in some ways are similar in the sense that these guys are every-day players that, like you said, we have coveted in the past," Boyd said. "There's been discussions and rumors and different things at different times, but both guys suffered some injuries and get to a different point in their career where they kind of are looking for a little bit of a resurgence."
Every major league roster seems to have players such as Hawpe and Jackson. They are in the low risk/high reward category. There's a mixture of backup infielder candidates at Rangers spring training, but you never know when the next Andres Blanco may be found. Rangers scouts are at games throughout Arizona and Florida this month, and you never know if they may find a piece to the puzzle that helps the Rangers return to the World Series.
Boyd also talked at length about about Jon Daniels' influence in the recent offseason, scouting of the non-roster invitees, low risk/high reward signings, scouting of the Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues, and the names of the scouts who you may not have heard that play a significant role for the Rangers.
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