Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Historical Scouting Reports - Kevin Bass

The National Baseball Hall of Fame did something really a couple years ago when they made thousands of historical scouting reports available to the public. This post is part of a series in which we'll look at the reports of players that have passed through Houston during their career. A lot of these are, understandably, difficult to read, so I'll do my best to transcribe them while including links to a few of them.

Today we'll look at right fielder Kevin Bass. Bass was drafted in the 2nd round by Milwaukee in 1977. Late in the 1982 season he was traded to Houston, along with Frank DiPino and Mike Madden, for Don Sutton. Bass would go on to spend the bulk of his career with the Astros during two stints in the 80's and 90's and was an All-Star during the team's storied 1986 season. For his career, he hit .270 with 118 HR and 151 SB, including putting together a 20/20 season in 1986. He left Houston as a free agent after the 1989 season, played a few years with the Giants and Mets, then returned to Houston as a free agent for the 1993 and 1994 seasons before spending his final year in Baltimore.

He have quite a few reports on Bass including several from 1977 and running until 1991.

Our first from 1977 is by Royals scout Tom Ferrick. At the time, Bass was a HS center fielder being scouted for the draft. Ferrick generally rated Bass as a potentially average, straight-away hitter with below average power but very good speed. In the field he was rated as above average to very good but with an average arm. Bass was also rated as potentially having above average baseball instincts and aggressiveness, as well as good habits, good agility, and good physical maturity. Ferrick noted that he talked to Bass, who was polite, well mannered, and intelligent. Bass played football but wants baseball. He notes that the switch-hitting Bass had a compact swing from the left side and was a natural right handed hitter. Ferrick summarized Bass "has potential to be lead off type ML OF. LF because of arm, but could play CF defensively. Should be base stealer, bunter and better than average defensive OF. Contact type hitter. Good baseball instincts."

Next is a player evaluation by Dennis Holmberg, Bass' manager for the short-season Brewers minor league team in Newark in 1977. Holmberg said Bass needed work hitting left handed, but that range and running speed would be above average. Bass also was a good worker and had the tools and desire to play; that he was a major league prospect who should play in A ball the next season. Bass was a line drive hitter with excellent bat speed and used his hands well, but at times didn't get his hips into the ball, which limited his power, and would also let front shoulder fly open at times when hitting left handed. He was an above average runner that needed to learn to drag bunt and get better leads and jumps off pitchers. Holmberg said Bass could reach AA the next season and that he would really come on in the Instructional League. Bass was great to work with and it was just a matter of time; he as an outstanding prospect. Holmberg wraps his report up by saying Bass "very possibly will have to be moved to right field in time."

Our next report is from Holmberg in 1977 again, this time from the Instructional League. Bass had improved in the field but still needed to improve his bunting. He was learning to steal bases and his quick bat could show some "fence power" in the future. His weakness in the field was on ground balls and throwing to the proper bases, but Holmberg felt that would improve with experience. Bass could run, throw, and hit, and was a good fielder, one of the finest young players Holmberg had seen. All he had to do is play every day to improve.

Next up is a report by Tony Siegle, then with the Brewers, from 1978 prior to the season. He said Bass was very aggressive in all respects. At Newerk, Siegle had some questions about Bass' bat but after seeing him again in the Instructionals he no longer had doubts. Bass could run and throw, but his fielding, especially with groundballs again, needed "smoothing out."

The next report we have is from 1985 by Bobby Morgan, who looks to have been a Royals scout at the time. I'm not too sure about the ratings he used, some sort of X +/- system, so you can see for yourself, but he summarized Bass as a "Good every day player - Good contact. Having a good year." On a side note, the Constable will not be happy about Morgan's last note on that report.

Now we get to the back half of Bass' career. The next report was from March 1990 by Phillies scout Eddie Bockman. Bass was with San Francisco at this point. This report is brief, but Bockman said Bass was "very good established everyday ML player. All tools above average. Solid in every area. Could help any ball club." As an interesting side, Brett Butler is also listed on this report. Bockman didn't like him, that he was "not our type of player." Butler would average about 5 WAR over the next 3 seasons.

Our final report is also by Bockman, this time from the spring of 1991. It's again very brief but he said Bass "has been used sparingly this spring. Probably due to knee surgery last year. If healthy can be good everyday player in ML. No clue if he changed his tune on Butler, though.