Hammond native Benny Latino embraces change as longtime MLB scout – Crescent City Sports

Benny Latino

Benny Latino is aware of baseball expertise. The truth is, he is aware of a lot that main league groups have used his capability as a scout to determine and consider newbie baseball gamers for greater than 25 years. And it’s his capability to adapt to vary that has saved him a priceless asset within the baseball business.

Latino, a local of Hammond, Louisiana, stated he was attending a neighborhood highschool recreation in 1995 when he made some feedback to baseball scouts, who have been in attendance, about two gamers he thought have been higher than the scouts. got here to see. Scouts took Latini’s advice to watch these different gamers and determined he was appropriate in his evaluation.

The Rangers ended up providing him a part-time job scouting gamers in Southeast Louisiana. He has labored with scouts Invoice Schmidt and Doug Gassaway, whom the Latino credit with instructing him the ropes of baseball scouts. When Gassaway transferred to the Tampa Bay Rays, he took a Latino with him.

Latino is at present a scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers, with duties for evaluating newbie gamers in Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Alabama. Previous to taking the Dodgers job in 2021, he had scouted for the New York Mets and Florida Marlins, in addition to the Rangers and Rays. He has additionally held duties as an expert scout, evaluating gamers already within the professionals, and as a world scout in search of prospects within the Dominican Republic.

Baseball has seen many modifications lately, and Scouting has needed to change with it. Latino stated, “The Nice Scout crew’s instruments have been a stopwatch, a radar gun, and a notepad.” He added, “These days, instruments embody using subtle video presentation capabilities, net conferencing, social media, and a laptop computer.”

Latino defined that the toughest a part of his job was gathering info on the gamers. He stated, “Generally it is overwhelming.” Regardless of essentially the most superior know-how accessible at present, Latino asserted, “You continue to cannot choose a participant’s work ethic with out watching and speaking to the participant.”

Over the previous two years, Main League Baseball has diminished the variety of recruiting innings for newbie gamers to twenty innings, from 40 or extra innings beforehand. A part of the reason being that MLB pressured minor league affiliate groups to 25 p.c fewer gamers two years in the past, requiring fewer gamers. Latino believes this has led to a scenario the place some newbie gamers miss out on an expert profession. He famous, “Take a look at what number of gamers prior to now have been drafted within the twenty first spherical or increased and superior to the majors.” A notable instance is Corridor of Fame catcher Mike Piazza, who was a 62nd spherical draft decide in 1988.

Latino stated that a lot of at present’s prime newbie gamers don’t go to highschool. That is very true in Florida, Georgia, Texas and California. As a substitute, they enroll in baseball academies, the place they will concentrate on enhancing their baseball abilities for an opportunity to play professionally. They attend lessons a number of hours a day on the academies, or study at house, after which spend the remainder of their day working towards.

Latino stated “pick-up” or “journey” groups are nice for the game as a result of they supply a excessive degree of competitors for aspiring gamers. But it surely has diminished the pool of potential school and professional gamers, particularly amongst African Individuals. Faculties provide the next proportion {of professional} gamers, whereas excessive faculties see cuts.

Adjustments in likelihood sources affected some elements of how Latini did his work. He had beforehand spent extra time on the grassroots degree, making connections with coaches and watching the gamers in individual. The know-how used to seize details about prospects additionally had an influence.

The supply of know-how and the scenario with fewer minor league groups has led some main league golf equipment to cut back their scouting workers. Latino says the Dodgers have adopted a balanced method as a substitute. They’ve mixed the effectivity and objectivity of a data-driven method with complementary private assessments by their present cadre of scouts.

Latino stated baseball gamers between the ages of 12 and 13 are tracked down by main league scouts.

Latino has caught between 280 and 300 potential probabilities throughout his profession. 29 of them made it to the majors. They embody a number of the acquainted names of New Orleans and Southeast Louisiana.

Dubbed “The Final Warrior” by a Latino, Chad Gauden warmed up at Crescent Metropolis Baptist in New Orleans and performed in 11 main league seasons via 2003 and 2013. He was a thirty sixth spherical decide by the Tampa Bay Rays in 2001.

Joey Gathright, additionally drafted by the Rays in 2001, groomed Bonnabel. Latino stated Gathright was one of many quickest gamers on the town. He performed in seven seasons within the main leagues from 2004 and 2011.

Reid Brignac was an impressive prep participant at St. Louis. Amant Excessive College. He was a second spherical decide of the Rays in 2004. He performed in 9 main league seasons from 2008 to 2016. Brignac is at present a supervisor within the New York Mets group.

Tulane product Drew Avans was chosen by the Los Angeles Dodgers within the thirty third spherical in 2018. He had a stellar season at Triple-A in 2022, at one level with a 43-game successful streak on base.

One of many strangest discoveries of a Latino got here to nationwide consideration in 2001. Greg Nash was a uncooked expertise from Gonzales, Louisiana, who was found by Latino in 2000 enjoying in a neighborhood sugar cane league with youngsters from 30 to 40 years outdated. Nicknamed “Toe” due to his shoe measurement 18, Nash was six-foot-six with a weight of 215 kilos. Latino by no means forgot that he noticed an enormous child play within the space six years in the past as a junior. It turned out that this youngster was Nash.

An 18-year-old, Nash was a swap hitter who might hit bombs 400 ft from each side, and a pitcher he might throw within the 90s. Since he hadn’t been to highschool since seventh or eighth grade, he flew below the radar as a baseball participant. In keeping with Peter Gammons’ article for ESPN.com in 2001, Latino stated, “I could not consider what I noticed—it was The Pure.”

Latino Nash signed a contract with Tampa Bay for $30,000. As a result of he had by no means obtained any formal coaching, Nash was despatched to the Rays’ academic league in Tampa to assist hone his abilities. He performed within the outfield alongside MLB All-Stars Josh Hamilton and Carl Crawford, based on Gammons’ article.

Nash performed effectively within the 2001 Appalachian League (rookie) season for the Princeton affiliate of Tampa Bay. However after one season, he stop baseball because of private points.

Latino lately stated, “Nash had essentially the most God-given expertise of any participant I’ve ever seen. He had the Dave Winfield physique kind, however he was robust.” Added Latino, “Keep in mind, Nash did not play organized baseball from ages 13 to 18, however he was there, having a reputable first skilled season.”

Latino says the most effective a part of his profession are the relationships he is constructed with gamers, coaches, and different scouts through the years. He stated, “I have been capable of journey all around the nation. I have been to in all probability each little ballpark. Alongside the way in which, I’ve met a number of the finest individuals within the recreation.”

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