After two minutes and only 12 pitches, redshirt junior pitcher Jacob Wloczewski left the mound on Wednesday afternoon in favor of sophomore southpaw Robert Brown, who also pitched for just two minutes. In front of a sparse crowd that gathered in the shaded seating just behind home plate, the Binghamton baseball team took turns showing off their skill sets on the mound, in the field and behind the plate, at its 15th annual Scout Day.
Area scouts representing 20 MLB organizations came to Binghamton with stopwatches, radar guns and sealed lips. Most were unwilling to reveal their thoughts on any given player, and were even hesitant to disclose their employers.
Binghamton has attracted attention from scouts due to its success since joining Division I in 2001. Over the past four years, the Bearcats have won three America East (AE) championships.
“We all are very talented, that’s why we’re here,” said senior first baseman Brendan Skidmore. “We’ve proven that to the coaches. So today, you just want to go out there and show the best you that you can be, whether it’s hitting, running or throwing.”
Since 2007, BU has produced eight MLB draft picks, and another 10 players have signed professional contracts as undrafted free agents.
“I’ve been coming here for 15 years, I think, and I’ve seen some good players,” said one scout.
Wloczewski drew attention with a fastball that topped out at 92 mph, while redshirt sophomore Justin Yurchak continued to impress scouts after batting .295 in the Cape Cod Baseball League over the summer.
Pitcher Mike Bunal and second baseman Reed Gamache, both of whom graduated in May, play professionally for the Rockies and Mets organizations, respectively. Bunal was drafted in the 17th round, while Gamache signed un-drafted.
“Binghamton’s had a great program, so I’m just trying to identify tools and see what happens,” said another scout from a National League (NL) team. “You want to always canvas as many schools in the northern climate as you can when you have the weather cooperating like today.”
Only one Bearcat, Scott Diamond, has ever played in MLB. He signed as an undrafted free agent with the Atlanta Braves in 2008. The Minnesota Twins selected him in the 2010 Rule 5 Draft, which aims to prevent teams from stockpiling too many minor-league players. Diamond played with the Twins for three seasons.
Scouts hope to find hidden gems by looking beyond the box score. Every organization and scout evaluates talent differently, but they all aim to discover each player’s true potential.
“Our organization has certain stats and things we want to look at and other teams definitely value different things,” the NL scout said.
The experiences that scouts brought with them to evaluate players differed. One scout played professionally, while another said that his first experience with an MLB organization was as a marketing intern.
Binghamton competed for scouts with two nearby colleges — Keystone College and East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania — that held workouts on the same day. Two scouts arrived late, trying to squeeze multiple events into one day.
Scouts travel frequently, ferociously competing with each other to find a diamond in the rough from the Northeast.
“I spend between 130 and 140 nights on the road every year, mostly in the Northeast,” the NL scout said. “I started in Syracuse yesterday and then I came here. I’m in Albany tomorrow and Southern Connecticut on Friday.”