Scouts are the backbone of any successful big-league club. They spend hours following kids and are expected to project how they will perform when they become men. Not exactly a precise science.
Chase Utley was originally drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the second round in 1997 but opted to attend college in his hometown, UCLA. Again, numerous Phillies scouts followed him in college ball. When he became a junior and eligible to be drafted, the Phillies selected him in the first round, 15th overall. That was 20 years ago. “Hard to believe, Harry.”
“My best friend at UCLA was Garrett Atkins,” Chase once said. Atkins played third and Chase second for the Bruins. “We were following the draft on the computer. Just as my name came up on the screen, I got a call from Mike Arbuckle and Ed Wade welcoming me to the Phillies. I’ll never forget that moment.” For the record, Garrett was drafted in the fifth round by the Colorado Rockies.
Phillies area scout Paul Scott saw Utley play three games and filed the following report on May 31 just before the draft:
“Live, athletic body. Long arms, small waist. Quiet, but aggressive. Quick bat. Sneaky power. Good, soft hands. Good instincts and good baserunner. Active, moves around a lot. Can drive the ball the other way. Hitch in swing, but hands and bat are in good position at trigger. He will be a starting second baseman on a pennant winner. Top of the order hitter. Should move through the system quickly.”
Believe Paul was right on.