Considering the fact David Ortiz was an afterthought at the start of his Boston Red Sox tenure, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he wasn’t critically acclaimed early in his career.
Ortiz, known as David Arias when he broke into pro ball, was a somewhat intriguing, albeit relatively unheralded, prospect when he first started out. He originally signed with the Seattle Mariners out of the Dominican Republic before the M’s traded him to the Minnesota Twins in 1996.
The man who’d ultimately become the greatest clutch hitter of a generation entered the big leagues in 1997 with little fanfare, and now, thanks to an in-depth series of stories from The Ringer, we have a better idea of what scouts saw in a young Ortiz.
The Ringer’s series features an in-depth look at the evolution of scouting in baseball based on 73,000 scouting reports obtained by the website from a former front-office person. On Friday, one of the story’s authors, Ben Lindbergh, did an open Twitter forum where he shared some scouting reports of past players. Among the reports he shared was Ortiz’s.
This report, from 1997, wasn’t particularly glowing.
“Sam Horn type body,” the Ortiz tweet read. “Has big swing. Poor pitch selection. Looks weak on (curveball). Winds up on pitch and doesn’t set up well. Big body. Flashy actions in pregame. Throws sidearm. Could develop with maturity and power potential.”
Well, they nailed that last part — and the flashy pregame actions thing, too. Everything else? Eh, not so much. But that’s the way it goes in the scouting business from time to time.
Luckily for the Red Sox, they either saw something else or decided to take a chance on Ortiz’s ability to “develop with maturity and power potential.” It’s safe to say that worked out pretty well for them.