Twins Midwest and Canada area scout Mark Wilson participated in a live Web chat with Twins Territory Team members on Friday. During the chat he answered many questions, including what life is like as a scout, 2010 draft prospects, and drafting 2009 AL MVP Joe Mauer.
Mark Wilson: We're here with Mark Wilson, Twins Midwest and Canada area scout - let's get started.
twins_fan10: What was it like scouting Joe Mauer when he was in high school?
Mark Wilson: I would say it was exciting because he was so talented that it made it fun to watch. Every game was exciting because he had so much talent and always produced. It seemed like there was nothing he couldn't do.
Mark Wilson: He made everything look so easy. He could hit with power, his arm was outstanding, he threw effortlessly, he just had an incredible instinct and feel for the game. It seemed as if he was in slow motion because everything was so effortless.
fiveat49: What do you enjoy most about your job?
Mark Wilson: The challenge of finding new talent every year. Travelling to different parts of the country. Seeing different players of different talents. It that quest of you're always searching for that next great player.
capn_m: How many baseball games do you attend each week/month?
Mark Wilson: It varies depending on the time of year. In the spring when we're scouting amature players for the draft, you may see parts or all of 2-3 games a day.
Mark Wilson: Sometimes on the weekends in tournament you might see up to 5 games.
Mark Wilson: In the summertime it could be more when you're at tournaments. It could be 10-12 games a weekend.
Mark Wilson: Once the draft is over, we switch to minor league coverage and see 1 game a day where you're evaluating the entire team rather than a specific player.
twinspride_09: How much input do you have in the draft process?
Mark Wilson: As an area scout we have the initial input in compiling the pool of players, which we rank, evaluate and place in the draft. I'm the starting block for players being selected in the draft. It then goes to supervisors and directors for national rankings.
Mark Wilson: I know more of the details on if a player is signable, injury factors, a deeper background of the player's abilities.
fiveat49: How did you get started scouting?
Mark Wilson: I played college and minor league baseball, which gave me the background to start helping anouther area scout as a part-time scout. Twins scout Joel Lepel got to know me from being at games and then hired me as part time. 8 months later, I was hired as full time with the Twins.
tc_gurl: What's the most exciting thing you?ve seen in your years as a scout?
Mark Wilson: The memorable things are player performances. Seeing Joe Mauer develop as a player. Seeing Mark Prior pitch in the College World Series. Seeing a few minor leaguers that have had exceptional raw power in batting practice.
Mark Wilson: In the Major Leagues, seeing all of the stars play.
Mark Wilson: It's hard to narrow it down because there have been so many exciting moments on every level - amateur, minor and Major League.
timburgett: what criteria do you use to decide to follow a player and maybe attemp to draft? Is it something you can follow a checklist or is it more from the gut?
Mark Wilson: The basic thing you're looking at is a players physical tools. For a position player, can he hit, field, throw, run. On the pitching side, you're looking at the body size, if there's arm speed/velocity. Those are the identifying elements that get the process started. Players are kept track of on a follow list.
mauerfan_44: Why do all scouts wear Tommy Bahama shirts?
Mark Wilson: Scouts like to dress in style too!
Mark Wilson: I'm moving to Antigua though - they don't fade or stain.
jm_bucsfan: What is it about the Twins system that they seem to scout, draft and develop players so well?
Mark Wilson: A lot of it is based on the standards and criteria that were set by Terry Ryan. Looking for the qualities like the tools and character makeup. Having quality personnel in the Minor League system to take the raw talent and develop it into Major League players.
jm_bucsfan: What do you think of this year's draft class? Most experts think it's not so deep in talent.
Mark Wilson: We're still ranking out a lot of the players right now - a lot of the first round has a lot of talent and depth. Beyond that, we're still in the process of ranking out players.
punksroo: What do you think of the Draft beginning during the evening?
Mark Wilson: It really doesn't matter much. It gives better exposure on TV. The time doesn't matter much for us. It's more for the fans.
jm_bucsfan: How much time do you spend on the road each year? Seems like it would be tough for a scout to have a regular life!
Mark Wilson: From Feb. to Oct. it can be 120-150 nights in hotel rooms. The rest of the time, it's a lot of commuter trips, 2-3 hour drives. It can be difficult being gone from your family, talking to your wife only on the phone and not seeing your daughter as much as you like to. Fortunately for me I have a great wife and daughter that can understand and deal with it.
fiveat49: What was it like making the transition from player to scout?
Mark Wilson: Having a background as a player gives you an inside feel for the game. Taking that to the scouting level helps you have more of a gut feel because it's something you may have experienced as a player and can use that as a comparison.
punksroo: Do you think there will be a good amount of talent on the board when the Twins pick?
Mark Wilson: We don't pick until 21 - so it's hard to say what's going to happen in the first 20. It looks like there should be quite a bit of depth in the first round so we should end up with a good player, but it's hard to narrow it down and say who it could be.
jzullo: What's your favorite restaurant to eat in when on the road scouting?
Mark Wilson: Depends on the town - I'm in so many different towns. Mexican food is my favorite. Chips, salsa and guacamole and I'm good!
jzullo: Do you share hot prospects with other scouts outside the organization, or do you keep them close to the vest?
Mark Wilson: You don't want to give away any secrets so you end up talking about what is already know.
ahp914: Beyond the obvious tools any baseball player should have, what do you look for in a player when you are scouting them in high school or junior college?
Mark Wilson: You're looking at other makeup and character elements like maturity, emotion, how they handle themselves on and off the field, how they interact with teammates. A player can have the best tools in the world but if he's not a good teammate, he's going to be trouble.
Mark Wilson: The opposite can happen too, a player who doesn't have the best tools but has great instinct and feel for the game, that can move them up a bit too.
fiveat49: Are you scouting any hot prospects right now?
Mark Wilson: Yes. Not naming and names.
roundriver: Have you read "Moneyball?" How has your process for evaluation changed in the past few yrs with more data available?
Mark Wilson: I did read "Moneyball" - it's not so much of an impact with an amature player. Stats can be skewed on every level so I take it with a grain of salt.
roundriver: Do you interview the players? ...To weed out the rock heads.
Mark Wilson: Players are sent a general paper questionnaire. As we get into evaluating them the we set up a meeting to meet the player individually. There is an in-depth process to evaluate all forms of information on a player.
Mark Wilson: Any last questions?
Mark Wilson: Thanks everyone for the good questions. I'm heading back into the draft room to figure out who number 21 is going to be. Win Twins!
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.