The New York Yankees are the most representative and influential franchise in MLB. Few people would dare to deny that. And being a scout for the organization comes with a great deal of responsibility and duties.
Shaun Hill played professionally for 16 years, and was sure he would keep doing it for another season in 2016. However, he received a phone call that changed his career path.
Kevin Reese, a friend of his and currently the Yankees’ senior director of player development, was the director of pro scouting at the time.
â€œHe asked if I had any interest in scouting,â€ Hill recalled. â€œI said, â€˜To be honest, Iâ€™ve never really thought about it. I planned on playing this year,â€™ but I didnâ€™t have a bunch of offers knocking down my door that were overwhelming.â€
Three FaceTime interviews were nough to convince Hill to join the New York Yankees’ evaluation staff. However, he was about to play in the Caribbean Series, and he didn’t know what to do. Thankfully, his new employers told him to finish his business there and then concentrate on the scouting gig.
â€œSo I walked into my managerâ€™s office, who was Luis Rojas, the manager of the Mets now, and I said, â€˜I just want to give you a headâ€™s up,â€™â€ Hill said according to MLB.com. â€œAnd he looks concerned, because they had been using me a ton. I told him, â€˜I just got hired as a scout for the Yankees.â€™ He still looks worried so I said, â€˜Iâ€™m staying, thatâ€™s not the issue. I just wanted you to know that if you need to throw me, you should throw me. If I blow out, I blow out.â€™ He congratulated me and they did use me a lot, in a good way. But it all kind of happened overnight.â€
The best he has seen from a scouting standpoint
Now 39 years old, Hill has spent the last four scouting with the Yankees. He spoke about the players that have made the biggest impression from a tools standpoint.
â€œShin-Soo Choo and Greg Dobbs,â€ Hill said. â€œThey were on the same team [in 2002], the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, with Seattle at the time. Choo was really good, and it was interesting because I didnâ€™t have any trouble with him, but I recognized his talent right away. But from a scouting perspective, looking back on it, I knew Dobbs was something back then. He wasnâ€™t very imposing, he didnâ€™t have crazy bat speed, but the guy knew what he was doing. He was a very professional hitter, even then at Low A. Now you look back at his career and he was a long-time professional hitter. He knew how to handle his business, always had a consistent approach, knew the strike zone.
â€œJoe Mauer and Yadi Molina were obvious ones, facing them in the lower levels. Mauer I faced in the Florida State League, Yadi I remember we faced him the Opening Day of the Low A season in Clinton. The two of them defensively, compared to everybody else, it was like big leaguers compared to high school guys. Youâ€™re thinking, OK this is what a big league catcher looks like.
â€œAnd there are a bunch of arms I came across. Dustin McGowan is one I faced in my first full year in the New York-Penn League. He was throwing for Auburn with the Jays and my parents came down to watch. Iâ€™m 89-92, throwing my sinker, and heâ€™s out there pumping 97, 98. This was my first full season, and I remember my dad asking me after the game, â€˜Are you sure youâ€™ve got what it takes to hang with the big boys?â€™â€
The New York Yankees’ scout has some advice for those who want to enter the industry.
“There are so many resources available now,â€ Hill said. â€œDabble into as many different fields as possible — analytics, software, reach out to high-performance facilities for opportunities to get a feel for what theyâ€™re doing on that level. Try to create as many contacts, resources and skillsets as you can to give yourself a wide berth to get into the game. Read and absorb as much as you can, but use as many resources as you can at different levels to try to filter out which information you should be taking to heart. Itâ€™s easier said than done.â€