Scouting baseball players has to be one of the most difficult jobs in sports. Of all the players who end up playing professionally in the minor leagues after high school and college, how many actually go on to become successful MLB players? Of that group, how many become stars?
The answer to both questions is a minuscule fraction. However, every now and then a scout comes along and submits a report on a player that turns out to be almost as perfect as you can get. As Busted Coverage pointed out, Chicago White Sox scout Brian Collins was one of those people in 1991 when reporting on Manny Ramirez.
If you can’t make out the writing, Collins predicted Manny would hit between 400 and 500 home runs in his MLB career. He currently has 555. Only 25 players in MLB history have hit 500 or more homers, so that is an incredibly bold prediction.
Collins also called Ramirez the “best amateur I’ve ever scouted” and pointed out that his fielding “tends to be lazy.” Baserunning? “Could be better,” according to Collins. Those of us who have watched Manny know that about covers it.
Not everyone nailed it as perfectly as Collins, even with a prospect with the raw talent that Manny had. Another scout who worked with the California Angels at the time, Jon Niederer, called Ramirez a “fine offensive player” but missed on a few other things.
Niederer said he did not envision Manny as a home run hitter, which you can see why he would say that. In addition to having tremendous power, Ramirez is also one of the best all-around hitters the game has ever seen. He hits for average and uses the entire field. Niederer also predicted Manny would be a “better than average baserunner because of his instincts and aggressiveness.” Boston Red Sox fans might tell you that no player has ever looked more lost on the base paths than Ramirez.
All in all, both scouts ended up being right about plenty of things with their reports on Ramirez. Collins just happened to nail it, which is more rare than you might think.