***The following post was written by Kevin Burrell, former professional baseball player and current area scouting supervisor with the Chicago White Sox, as a guest of FutureSox. Kevin paints a picture of the life of an amateur scout for a major league organization; a life both trying and rewarding. We hope this helps give our readers a unique first-person view into life in the minor leagues for a key role player.***
Life as a professional baseball area scouting supervisor is a grind throughout the scouting season. It is a year-round job. Time away from home, schedules to procure, coaches to develop relationships with, high-school and college players to identify and follow, and that is just the tip of the iceberg.
After my playing career was cut short in 1991, I decided that I wanted to continue my career in professional baseball as a scout. I began my scouting career with the Chicago White Sox in 1992. Through a series of transitions, I became a National Cross-checker with the Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros respectively.
However, after many years of spending well over 200 nights on the road annually, I decided to take a step back to spend more quality time with my family, and again take on the role of an area scouting supervisor with the Chicago White Sox in fall of 2007. I went back to where I first started.
Yearly, I am responsible to cover Georgia and South Carolina. In a given year, an area scout will travel in their car between 30-50 thousand miles while covering their territory.
For myself, a typical spring scouting day is busy. After starting the day with a good breakfast; there are reports to write, preferential draft list to update, hotel reservations to make, incoming weather to evaluate and make a decision on, coaches to call, player injuries to look into, and analyzing pitching rotations and game schedules for your cross-checkers and scouting director who may be flying in to evaluate my players I have interest in.
There is much to do and organize before the game even starts. Scouting the actual game can often times be the easiest part. All the planning, traveling, preparation and organization throughout the day can become challenging. My day typically starts early, maybe 5am and can end as late as 12am, sometimes later depending on travel and post-game responsibilities. If a scout is not competitive, not organized, not disciplined, a poor time manager, lazy or lacks instincts to scout, they will fail. It will be just a matter of time.
Often times, an area scout needs to be a weatherman, video / camera man, psychologist, and travel agent, just to name a few. The job and responsibility of an area scout is not just go to the game, watch the game, and go home. There is much more to the job of a scout than just watching baseball games.
Working with a veteran group of cross checkers, scouting director, assistant scouting director, and front office personnel in the Chicago White Sox organization makes my job enjoyable. If you can’t have fun while doing this job, then it’s time to pack up and go home.
Over the years, I have been lucky, fortunate and blessed to get some good players in the White Sox draft; including Mark Johnson, Gordon Beckham, Chris Beck, Jacob May and Spencer Adams. As an area scout, getting players in the draft is luck of the draw. When a scout has interest in a player, they follow that player like it’s their own child. You pour time and emotional investment into these players to hopefully get one or two in the draft that you want and like. It’s not about quantity, but quality. Scouting is a passion not just a job.
The goal is to take the best player in the draft that will help the Chicago White Sox win a World Championship. Egos and agendas are checked at the door. Organizational needs always come first.
My wife, Valerie and I have been married for 21 years. I’m sure I can speak for some other scouts in the industry who are married; without a supportive wife at home, one who can handle the house duties, bills and children while I am out on the road traveling makes the job and responsibility of scouting more manageable. When my mind can be focused on doing my job until draft day, it is a great feeling.
After over 30 years of professional baseball I am still seeking that elusive World Championship ring. My hope is that in the not too distant future, that dream can become a reality with the Chicago White Sox organization winning another World Championship Title.
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