Scouting reports trace Class of 2019 members’ path to Cooperstown

Part of the SHORT STOPS series
Written by: Isabelle Minasian

Beyond a bronze plaque at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in the same year, all six members of the Class of 2019 share something else in common: Each player made their major league debut with the teams that originally signed or drafted them.

Seattle Mariners designated hitter Edgar Martinez and Yankees closer Mariano Rivera were signed as international prospects out of Puerto Rico and Panama, respectively. Meanwhile, Harold Baines, Roy Halladay and Lee Smith were drafted stateside as high schoolers by the White Sox, Blue Jays and Cubs.

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Right-hander Mike Mussina was actually drafted by the Orioles twice. Baltimore selected him in the 1987 draft, but Mussina chose to honor his commitment to attend Stanford University.

After three years with the Cardinal, including two College World Series appearances, the Orioles drafted him in the first round of the 1990 draft. He will be the first Stanford baseball alum to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Halladay and Baines were also first-rounders, with Toronto selecting Halladay with the 17th overall pick in 1995 and the White Sox drafting Baines first overall in 1977. Baines joins Ken Griffey Jr. and Chipper Jones as No. 1 overall draft pick Hall of Famers.

Prior to becoming professional ballplayers each Class of 2019 Hall of Famer was extensively scouted, and the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum preserves reports on Baines, Halladay and Mussina in its archives.

Just a few weeks prior to the 1977 draft, Major League Scouting Bureau’s Gordon Lakey traveled to St. Michael’s, Md., to watch then-18-year-old Harold Baines. Lakey praised Baines’ “good bat speed and ability to drive the ball;” attributes that would remain consistent throughout the future Hall of Famer’s career.

Lakey also noted his unflappable, introverted nature, which Baines himself referred to during his Orientation Visit in the spring of 2019: “I don’t show a lot of emotions, but inside it’s very exciting,” he said when asked about his feelings on being elected.

While playing for Montoursville (Pa.) High School, Mike Mussina was admired by Red Sox scout Phil Rossi, who cited Mussina’s abilities as a two position player and wrote that his only weakness was “Experience. Game time is all that is needed.”

Mussina, of course, built on his game time experience by enrolling and playing at Stanford after graduating high school.

When it came to Roy Halladay, the scouting reports make it clear he was head and shoulders above the rest – literally.

Nearly every report comments on his impressive height and physicality.

While Halladay was in the majors, he continued to seek out new information and learn from coaches, fellow players and books.

His openness to learning and making adjustments was noted in a report from March of 1995, with White Sox scout John Kazanas praising his “improvement with delivery” and ability to make adjustments when pitching into the wind in his home state of Colorado.

The six members of the Class of 2019 will be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday, July 21, at the Clark Sports Center in Cooperstown.


Isabelle Minasian is the digital content specialist at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

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Part of the SHORT STOPS series