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The 2014 Hall of Fame class before they were stars

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We all know how good Maddux, Glavine and Thomas were during their careers. After all, they were just elected into the hallowed halls of Cooperstown. But what did scouts think of them before they became stars?

Tom Glavine right before he completes his trademark cross-body delivery.
Tom Glavine right before he completes his trademark cross-body delivery.
Mike Zarrilli

305, 355 and 521. Why are those numbers significant? Those are the signature stats of the three newest members of the Hall of Fame. But what about before these players became the star attractions for their teams? What did the scouts think of a scrawny 150 pound right hander from Vegas? What about that soft tossing lefty from Massachusetts? Thanks to the fantastic Diamond Mines feature on the Hall of Fame website we can hop in the time machine and see what scouts thought of Maddux, Glavine and Thomas. To see the actual reports, click on the year during the summary.

Greg Maddux

A search of Greg Maddux, affectionately known as Mad Dog or The Professor, returns six scouting reports ranging from 1985 to 1992. Lets take a look at each one as there are three from his minor league days and three once he made his debut.

- Duffy Dyer filed a report in 1985 detailing the Low A Peoria Cubs of the Midwest League. The then 19 year old Greg Maddux was listed as 6'0 150 LB, with a four pitch mix, a plus fastball and plus control. In the details section it reads "not strong enough to be a starter" and "small: good arm; ran out of gas: did not pitch good last 1/3 of season"

- Larry Monroe left a report on Maddux in the Summer of 1986 when he was pitching for the AAA Iowa Cubs of the American Association. In his report he leaves a check mark next to Maddux's name and remarks "He's gonna be a good one. 88 fastball tails when up and sinks when down. Pitches inside very well and good command. Good curveball but needs more consistent bite. Change only fair and doesn't have command of it. Needs 1 year more for work on curveball and change, but very good potential to be a consistent winning starter"

- Steve Vrablik of the Mariners sent a report to his bosses in 1987 when Maddux was a member of the Chicago Cubs. In his report he grades Mad Dog's pitches as well as a general statement on him. His fastball was a present 5 and future 6 pitch, the curve, change and his poise graded out to P4/F5, and the slider was a P5/F5 pitch. His control was at P3/F5 with "mild" interest. In his notes section he places Maddux in the "chance" category with the comment reading "21 year old was over his head here. Needs more experience and should have another [year] of AAA. Strong arm with good stuff. Like his chances."

-In 1988, Vrablik filed another scouting report as a member of the Mariners on Maddux. The year before, only his fastball was seen as a potential above average pitch in the future. Vrablik's tune had changed over the course of the year as his fastball was now seen as a P6/F6 pitch, the curve, change and slider were all graded P5/F5. His control was bumped up to P5/F6 and his poise was rated as a P7/F7. He also moved from the chance category to "excellent". His notes read "Starting Pitcher. Very good live sinking movement on his FB. Mixer with 4 good pitches. Changes speed well. Good athlete."

-Eddie Bockman, a scout for the Phillies organization, filed a report in March 1990 on Maddux. In his report Maddux had gained 20 pounds and was now listed at 6'0 170 LB. The previous year he had finished 3rd in the Cy Young voting with an 19-12 record and 2.95 ERA. In the comments sections, Bockman notes that Maddux is the "Top right handed pitcher in NL League. Will be around a long time. Out of high 3/4 area maximum effort on every pitch. Good live FB when down - sinking action with plus velocity. Hard slider. Good over-the-top curve ball - uses split finger and palm ball as off speed pitch. Will change speeds off of fastball with straight change. Effective when over. Good competitor - good work habits."

- The last report on Maddux is from August of the 1992 season. By this point he had become one of the top hurlers in the senior circuit, and would go on to win the Cy Young award for the first time in his career in 1992. Scout Chuck Koney's write up on The Professor had his pitches rated even higher. The fastball was now a P7/F7 pitch, as was his slider, the curve was P6/F6, his change and poise were rated as P8/F8, and his control was a P6/F6. Koney's comments read as "A premier ML pitcher, outstanding stuff - [unreadable] #1, Maddux #'s [unreadable] love to have on our starting pitching staff - good athlete."

Frank Thomas

Even though Thomas only spent two seasons in the minor leagues there are six reports on Thomas available, including two from current GM of the Washington Nationals, Mike Rizzo. Both Rizzo reports came in 1988 when he worked with the Chicago White Sox.

- In 1988, Thomas was still a junior at Auburn University, playing football and first base for the baseball squad. He was listed as a stout, power hitting 6'5 250 LB specimen. In Rizzo's evaluation, he put a present 40 grade on his hit tool with a future 55, a P70/F80 grade on his power, and P40/F40 speed but P50/F50 base running. His arm was rated a P40/F50 while his fielding was a P45/F50 with 55 bat speed, 50 contact and 56 for make-up. His final summation on Thomas was "Powerful player with potential to be an impact, power hitting 1B. Good approach with bat. Has hands and agility to be good 1B. Quality." Under signability he was dubbed "will sign" with a future possibility as a major leaguer who could start in class A ball. Thomas was looking for an $80-$90K signing bonus and Rizzo even recommended going as high as $150K to sign him.

- The second report from Rizzo came in March of 1988 and had a few changes in the grades. While he kept his present 70 and future 80 grade power, 40 grade speed, 50 baserunning, and P45/F50 fielding; his hit tool was bumped down to a P35/F50. His future arm grade also dropped to 40 while his bat speed and contact remained at 55 and 50, respectively. A few new grades are mentioned with a 40 on his arm strength, 45 release, and 50 accuracy. His fielding range was tabbed a 45, his hands a 55 and agility 50. Thomas' baserunning instincts graded out at 50, his aggressiveness a 40 and leads a 40 as well. His competitiveness and confindence were rated a 60, his poise and teamwork a 55 and intelligence a 50.

His physical description was as follows "Big & strong frame, chest & upper body are big and developed. Legs are big & strong." His strong points are "Power is outstanding, should have 30+ home run capability in future. Has as much power as anybody. Bat speed has capabilities of being avg. hitter." while his only weak points are "arm is below, speed is also below avg." In summation, Rizzo wrote "Power & bat are very exciting. Does not move bad for size & position. Hands are avg around 1st base. Bat & power will take him as far as he goes. Top bat around. Needs some adjustment with bat but potential to be very good. Impact major leaguer."

- For his next year, three different reports surface from three different scouts, Allan Goldis, Donald Labossiere, and Larry Maxie. In the Goldis report from 1989, you can't read a damn thing. I am amazed the White Sox front office could read Goldis' chicken scratch handwriting. One thing you can read however, is the grades on his tools. A present hitting grade of 38 was put on Thomas with a future 55 with no hitch, 55 bat speed and 55 contact. His power graded to 80 for both present and future with power to the pull side and to the alleys. His speed grades were both 35 with a 4.45 home to first time recorded. His arm got a 45 present and 50 future grade with 50 strength, 45 accuracy and 40 release. His fielding came out to a 43 present and 50 future with a 48 range grade, 50 hands and 48 agility. He got a 45 for baserunning instincts and aggressiveness with a 40 on his leads. If any of you can read the written words on this report, please be so kind as to translate in the comments.

-Luckily there was a second report from a White Sox scout, Larry Maxie. His report was made in May of 1989, a month before the draft. In his look at Thomas, he saw the obscene power everyone else did but he was skeptical at best when it came to the rest of the package. When grading his tools, Maxie gave Thomas a present 20 and future 40 on his hitting with 50 bat speed and a 30 present and 50 future contact. His power was 80 across the board with notes that he was a pull hitter and used the alleys. His speed registered in the 30 range as Maxie clocked him at 4.5 seconds from home to first. His arm was given a 55 grade, both present and future, with 55 arm strength, 55 accuracy and a 40 release. His fielding also received less than stellar marks, logging a present 35 and future 40 grade. His range was dubbed a 35, his hands 45 present and 50 future, and his agility was a 40. The same goes for his baserunning grade. Under the physical description section, Maxie said "Ex large tight end player in football. Excellent strength and concerned he might get too big. Runs OK for as big as he is. 4.53 plus, fair 1st to 3rd, one huge person."

As for his strong points, Maxie had this to say, "Power to all fields but best power is straight away. Does better when he hits the ball right back at the pitcher. Tries to pull comes off the ball - average arm with rough arm action, likes to throw straight over the top." His weak points were, "Better fielder than I thought, below average in the field but playable. Arm is solid-average. Runs just enough but not that good either. Strong player and they are going to jam him if they can." His summation on Thomas as a future draft pick mentions "one excellent tool and fair in the field - 250 hitter TOPS if  that but will hit HRs, 20 on bad year if he gets 500 ABs. Better [unreadable] makes him a weak fielder but playable with power." It's easy to see now how far off he was.

- The third report came from the hand of Donald Lobossiere of the Padres in July of 1989. His present hitting ability was graded a 4 with a future 5. The rest of his tools had the same present and future grades. His power grade was a 7, his baserunning, arm strength, fielding and range were all a 4, his arm accuracy, instincts and aggressiveness rated as a 5 and his running speed was a 3. His physical description reads "No known [injuries]. No glasses. This guy looks like Jim Rice (even bigger) and Mark McGuire rolled into one. Incredible physical attributes, and solid as a rock. This guy is tremendously strong."

His abilities include "Has genuine loft ML power now. His mistakes go 360 feet. Has a quick compact swing, and awesome power with WOODEN bat. Can hit for ave. also. He is a pull hitter. Def. he is adequate at 1B, and his arm is playable." Under the weakness tab it says "Below ave. runner, and his def. could improve with hard work. Capable of becoming a good 1B. Range however is well below ave. As big as SAM HORN but better defensively at this stage." Lobossiere concludes that "if [Thomas] improves his defense he could go in the first 3 rounds. Bat will guarantee his first 5 rounds. Would have led Cape in HR's but pitchers really didn't challenge him and constantly walked or pitched around him. Won the Cape HR derby at the All-Star game. Has incredible power, and strength, should be [unreadable] year by area scout to check his defense. Offense is already there."

- The final report on the Big Hurt came when he was finally in the minors, July of 1990. It was from Ken Berry, a member of the White Sox scouting staff while Thomas was in AA. He noted in the physical description that he is "tall, strong" with a previous ankle injury. Under scouts judgments he was tabbed as a definite ML prospect and ready for AAA the next season. His hitting graded out at a present 35 with a 50 contact rating. His power was only given a 60 with 50 consistency. He ran a 4.4 to first with a 40 on baserunning and 40 on alertness. His arm strength received a 45 and both his accuracy and release were a 40. In the field, his alertness once again was rated a 40 but his range, hands, and jumps in the field were only 35's. It did note however, that Thomas was "improving steadily", and his strong points were "power & strike zone". His list of weak points was a bit longer though, "uppercut - range - baserunning situations - def. situations - arm & accuracy". Berry thought that Thomas needed more seasoning in the minors, noting that he "needs another 100-150 games to learn game situations thoroughly".

Tom Glavine

Only two reports come up in a search for Glavine, one from 1985 and another in 1990. The 1985 report came after his first taste of pro ball and the 1990 report came during his third full season with the Atlanta Braves.

- Larry Monroe was the scout for each of the two available reports. His first one came in October of 1985 during instructionals. Glavine gets a check mark from Monroe and also this comment, "He just needs a little more on all 3 pitches and to get consistency on his spots. 84 with good sinking life and its enough. He wraps curveball and needs more [unreadable] and pretty good screwball. He stays down with all stuff and he will pitch in the big leagues. But whether he will really help a club depends on improvement of stuff and consistency overall."

- His second report came in July of 1990 as a scout for the Chicago White Sox. This report was a little more detailed, noting his size (6'1, 190 LB, average build) among other things. He was noted as a definite ML prospect, someone who could help the Sox now and a target for acquisition. He worked from a 3/4 delivery and his fastball was rated a 58 with 60 life and 60 command. The curve ball was a 52 from a high 3/4 slot with 50 command. The slider was a 60 pitch with 58 command from the same 3/4 arm slot while his straight change was a 55 with 50 command. He also received a 55 in hustle and mental toughness, a 70 fielding and 40 holding runners. Under the strong points section, Monroe mentions Glavine's "Consistent 86 fastball with good sink. Hard 3/4 slider with tilt. Average CB & CH and command of all 4. Goes inside well to RHH. Good fielder and athlete."

For his weak points, Monroe cites "No leg drive now. Just steps with right leg and all arm. Sometimes steers pitches and leaves stuff up." In summation he says "Will be real good when he gets leg drive and drives to catcher like he did in 1989. Could win 15+ for us." That last bit is certainly prophetic as Glavine would go on to win at least 15 games 10 times in his career. A cool part of this particular report is at the bottom where there are three questions. How does he pitch when behind on count? When ahead of count? When in a jam? Behind in the count, Glavine would go with a fastball away or slider in on right handed hitters. Ahead in the count he would try a breaking pitch or fastball up and when he got into a jam it was straight to the slider or sinking fastball. He was also just 1.55 seconds to home plate from the stretch.