One of the things that sparked an interest in me, here at the Baseball Winter Meetings, in Washington this week, was not a rumor of a trade or free agent signing for a gazillion dollars, but a casual hello, that led to an amazing conversation I had.
A young man named, Justin Volman, I assumed was just one more, in the mass of young people, who are looking for jobs in baseball here this week. To my surprise, he told me he was here to conduct interviews for his new business. “Collegiate Baseball Scouting Network”.
Justin, who is from Monroe Connecticut, is a 20 -year old student at the University of Alabama. Majoring in ‘Sports Management’. Without getting into the complexity of his very creative idea, his venture into the world of the sports business, is to have a network of students, on campuses throughout the country, who will scout college baseball players.
What a brilliant way to gather information, as these new scouts will be on site for every home game. Not only that, but close enough to these players on campus, to observe a part of, the all important makeup of a prospect. Does he go to class, does he go to bars late at night, etc.?
When that school travels to another university, he could have another part of his network on that campus, file a report on the same players. Professional scouts, will sometimes get only one shot to see a player. Sometimes making a long one day trip to see someone, who may not play that day.
Following a player, is time consuming to a pro scout. Having a network of information gatherers, is what scouts rely on to cover enormous territories. They spend a good deal of time trying to find what is known as,“Bird Dogs” to get them leads on prospects.
Justin’s business, will add more information to a players project-ability. After reading (and paying for) this information, ball clubs may then want to send a scout or cross checker to confirm what was in one of these reports. The information can be sold to a number of organizations.
As of now, Justin is looking to work with summer leagues.
I had concerns about the ability to recognize talent by these unskilled college students. Justin assured me, that he is confident they can gather enough information, to make this work. He has made it his business to talk to scouting directors and other professionals, and picked their brains about what they look for in a player.
He conducts interviews, reads through many resumes and knows a lot for someone this young. He has done his homework and feels he will know who to hire. Headed for an ‘A’ plus here.
I believe it will work, having always thought that, any information is useful. He has a number of his scouting network, ready to go. On major campuses such as, Oregon, Texas, Texas A&M, Michigan, LSU, UMass and Alabama. He is closing in on Vanderbilt. There will be tweaks and adjustments, just like any new business Idea.
But what a creative idea by a brilliant young man.
This is a person, who as we say in the business, has a ‘High Ceiling’. I get the feeling, he is only just begun. Brilliant young people like Justin, are what make our country great. A creative idea, by an enthusiastic goal oriented young mind.
Editor’s Note: William Coppola just completed his 40th year in the game of baseball. He has been a coach, instructor and advanced scout for numerous teams in Major League Baseball