Inside Look at Cleveland Indians Northeast Private Workout at RPP

By Bahram Shirazi (BSEE, MBA, Dad and Co-owner at RPP)

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RPP and Rozema Baseball recently had the pleasure of hosting the Cleveland Indians as they conducted an invite-only workout for some of their top northeast prospects in anticipation of the upcoming 2017 MLB Draft.  On behalf of everyone at RPP and Rozema Baseball, we would like to thank the Cleveland Indians again for allowing us to host their event.  The representatives from the Indians were extremely professional, respectful, informative and truly a class act.  The following individuals from the Cleveland Indians attended the session for the evaluation:

  • Brad Tyler – Regional Supervisor
  • Mike Kanen – Northeast Area Supervisor
  • Clint Longenecker – Coordinator, Amateur Scouting
  • Scott Barnsby – Assistant Director of Amateur Scouting
  • Bobby Malkmus – New Jersey Scout

This was a high-level scouting event.  They were evaluating fewer than a dozen players and pitchers in an intimate setting where they could spend some quality time with the players and their parents.  It was relatively obvious that the scouts were looking to learn more about the person as opposed to purely pitching and/or hitting abilities.  Below are some of the highlights and takeaways:

One-on-One and Family Meetings – Every player received a one-on-one interview with one of the members of the Indians’ staff, but some also had family-wide meetings.  Although we were not part of the meetings they appeared to be similar to employment interviews, some lasting as many as 45 minutes.

Hitting Sessions – There were half dozen players present for the hitting session.  Indians brought 10 boxes of dozen MiLB baseballs and 2 boxes of brand new Rawlings wood bats.  Every young ball player knows there is nothing better than fresh goods.

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Rawlings Wood Bat

Mike Rozema highlighted three topics that he believes the Indians’ scouts could be looking for during the session:

  1. Any adjustments the players may have made since the last time they saw him,
  2. Bat speed and overall path of the barrel while reacting to different pitch locations, and
  3. How well the player’s swing could eventually correlate with major league pitchers.

Pitching Sessions – There were only 2 pitchers present for the pitching sessions as the weather had held back a few from making the trip.  Although they radar gunned the pitchers, the Indians scouts really weren’t interested in velocity.  They already knew how hard these pitchers could throw.  They were looking purely at mechanics and pitching ability.

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Question and Answer Session with Parents and Players – The Indians staff conducted an extensive and informative Q&A session including a brief presentation on what life is like for minor leaguers, covering varied topics from housing to food.  They also fielded many questions about the process, the draft, some of the rules and the choices players face when they have committed to a collegiate program and they get drafted.  They reviewed the type of player they would be looking for.  Interesting to note, however, was that unlike the collegiate process, parents were most welcome as a part of these discussions and were encouraged to participate and ask questions.

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Vision Test / Eye-hand Coordination – One of the more interesting aspects of the session was the eye examinations which were conducted by the Sports and Performance Vision Center, a facility with more than two decades of experience enhancing and improving the vision of professional and elite athletes.

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Personality Questionnaire – Every single prospect was asked to complete a personality questionnaire.  Although we didn’t see the actual questionnaire, there are several standardized personality tests developed by clinicians that are utilized by employers all the time.  A simple Google search on “employee personality questionnaires” turns up many articles and samples.  One popular one is the 16PF developed over several decades of empirical research by Raymond B. Cattell, Maurice Tatsuoka and Herbert Eber. The final report on this type of test provides a measurement of anxiety, emotional stability and behavioral parameters.  The factors are generally globalized into 6 different buckets:

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Administration of these tests takes about 35–50 minutes for the paper-and-pencil version and about 30 minutes by computer. The test instructions are simple and straightforward and the test is un-timed; thus, the test is generally self-administrable and can be used in either an individual or a group setting.  Because the relationship between the test items and the traits measured is generally not obvious, it is difficult for the test-taker to deliberately tailor responses to achieve a desired outcome.  So basically, you can’t game the test.  The results speak for themselves.

16PF Test

I would have to say that the best part of the whole afternoon was probably meeting with 85 year old Indians scout and former ball player with the Phillies, Bobby Malkmus.  And here is what he said about how he evaluates pitchers:

“I listen to the crack of the bat, the pop of the glove and I don’t need to look at the pitcher to figure him out.”

– Bobby Malkmus

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