(Photo via Nick Holmes’ Twitter, seen here)
Holmes’ Scouting Journey
Nick Holmes’s scouting career began with a conversation with his friend and mentor, Rick Magnante who asked if Holmes would be interested in running the Oakland A’s Scout Ball team in the offseason. Magnante suggested it would be a good fit for Holmes to get his foot in the door as a professional coach and/or scout by allowing Holmes the opportunity to show his capabilities on the field while also learning how to identify and scout players.
“Of course I jumped at the idea and was off and running learning the trade and soaking up everything I could a long the way,” said Holmes.
After coming out of MLB Scout School in the Dominican Republic, Holmes didn’t expect too much with scouting. To his surprise, he had the opportunity to interview with several MLB teams. Making the top three best candidates for the position, Holmes would be turned away for reasons unknown. “They don’t tell you why you didn’t get the job, but I assumed it was lack of experience,” said Holmes.
Living in the area of Southern California known as the ‘hotbed of young talent,’ there is high demand to scout that area. According to Holmes, someone has to die or retire in order to have the opportunity to scout the Southern California region.
When Holmes looked to international scouting, things took a turn for the better. Realizing that most people wouldn’t travel to scout, Holmes created a plan to scout Central America and pitched it to all 30 MLB teams. Out of those 30 teams, only the Angels and the Rangers were willing to sit down and hear more about the plan to cover Central America. “I have to thank Mike Daly from the Texas Rangers for believing in me and taking the chance to hire me,” said Holmes.
Shortly after meeting with the Angels and the Rangers, Holmes landed with the MLB Scouting Bureau and continued to scout internationally. After being in California, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama, Holmes is currently in British Columbia, Canada scouting with the Collegiate Baseball Scouting Network.
Scouting From Holmes’s Perspective
A lot of people believe that scouts go to games, eat peanuts, drink beer, and even get paid great salaries. “I have had people that ask me if we get a cut of the signing bonus,” said Holmes. “The reality is none of that is true.”
According to Holmes, scouting is a lot of time away from family, it is bad hotels, fast food diets, very hot days in the sun, and sometimes all for nothing. “You show up early, you leave late, and more times than not, you don’t see any prospects,” explained Holmes.
Picking out the prospects in a game for Holmes is a different process than others. Rather than focusing on the guy who makes the biggest plays, strikes out the most batters, or hits the most home runs, Holmes decides to keep an eye out for the underdog talent. “You have to see them multiple times before you notice they have something that is unique or different,” said Holmes.
After hearing a lot of scouts focusing on the negatives of players, Holmes decided to focus on the positives beyond the athleticism of the player. Some of the most important traits to Holmes are work ethic, self-discipline, body language, and overall attitude. According to Holmes, playing for the team rather than the self is an important factor in considering a player for scouting.
“You don’t have to be Johnny Hustle every time out of the dugout, but you do have to put the team first,” said Holmes. “If you play for yourself it shows.”
For the future, nobody can predict exactly what a player will produce and taking a chance on a guy who shows more than just athletic capabilities depicts if the guy is willing to work towards his potential or be content with where he is at.
“Hall of Famers come from the 50th round and first-overall picks bust in Single-A,” revealed Holmes.
According to Holmes, scouting requires more than just watching the player the day of but actually doing some investigative work in the background. This means talking to teammates, parents, friends, and coaches involved in the players life.
“Their true colors will come out around these people in the locker room or after the game when they don’t feel they are being watched,” explained Holmes. “Some guys are good at hiding it when they know they are being watched and they can fake it.”
As for the future of scouting, Holmes is enjoying living in the moment and seeing where his career takes him.