Baseball scouting is an inexact science even under the best of circumstances. Combine an amatuer season shortened by the coronavirus crisis and a draft condensed from the traditional 40 rounds to just five and it becomes even more of a hit-or-miss proposition.
That’s why the San Francisco Giants had a distinct advantage when it came to NC State catcher Patrick Bailey.
While intel on most draft-worthy players has become a precious commodity because of the lack of games that were played, the Giants already had a detailed scouting report on their 2020 first round draft pick thanks to the relationship Bailey has with team scouting director Michael Holmes.
The two have known each other since Bailey was playing high school ball in Greensboro and Holmes was a scout for the Oakland Athletics, also based in the Triad.
“Where I lived in North Carolina was about 15-20 minutes from where he went to high school,” Holmes said in a Zoom conference shortly after his team made Bailey the 13th overall pick and the first catcher taken in this year’s draft. “I’ve seen him since a young player and I’ve seen not only his growth and maturity on the field, but off the field as well."
“I’ve seen Patrick grow into a real leader, a very confident player who believes in himself,” Holmes said. “I’ve seen him go from a very talented high school player to a two-time Team USA player and the leader of that team at N.C. State. I’ve seen his skill set really, really take off.
“In high school, he was a guy that could always catch and throw. To see the bat develop the way it has and the trajectory it’s on right now, I still think it’s pointing north. I still think there’s a lot of room for him to continue to grow offensively. And he’s got the defensive skill set that you look for at the Major League level.”
Bailey got to know Holmes, a former Wake Forest player who spent four seasons in the minors before going into coaching, then scouting, through a mutual friend -- former Major League pitcher Scott Bankhead.
Bankhead is the owner of North Carolina Baseball Academy, a facility that helps young players develop their skills in the game.
"Scott Bankhead and his organization, they were really close and Holmes used to come talk to us," Bailey said. "We had a little bit of a relationship. so it's cool. It was a nice conversation after we got picked. It was fun to see everything come to be."
While the first-hand knowledge Holmes had of Bailey certainly helped the Giants makde their decision to take him, despite having drafted another catcher in the first round just two years ago, it wasn't the primary reason for his somewhat surprising selection.
"We had fewer looks and fewer reports (because of the shortened college season) and it led to much deeper conversation about these players, about their skill set, about their character," Zaidi said. "In that sense, the qualitative aspect of the evaluation became more important. In that sense, I can certainly see the relationship mattering more. But I think it would have been a strong check mark in (Bailey's) favor in any year."
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