A reader sent this to us last night, and we want to share it with you: a baseball scout's 1978 evaluation of Cal Ripken Jr., then a high school senior—and a starting pitcher.
The report was complied by longtime Pirates scout Joe Consoli, who at the time was working for MLB's central scouting bureau. Consoli watched the 17-year-old Ripken throw a total of 14 innings over two games for Aberdeen (Md.) High.
"Built like handsome Jim Palmer," Ripken actually started his high school career as a second baseman, but was moved to shortstop in his sophomore season. The next year, he began pitching as well, and that's where most MLB scouts projected him, for the same reason he would redefine the SS position for a generation: his size.
Shortstops used to be small, weak-hitting speedsters, their defense considered paramount and any hitting ability a plus. At age 17 Ripken was already 6'3" and 195 pounds. "Growing faster than mobility will allow," Consoli noted. (Ripken would top out at 6'4", 225.) The Orioles were the only team willing to develop him as an infielder, though even they figured his best shot at the majors was a pitcher. In his biography, Ripken said he started in the minors as a shortstop because the O's figured the transition to the mound would be easier than the other way around.
Baltimore waited until the second round to select Ripken, with their fourth pick of the draft—he wasn't high on anyone's draft board, because he projected out to only a mediocre pitcher. But in Consoli's report, you can see glimpses of the talents that would serve him well over his Hall-of-Fame career: "Physical specimen...Outstanding competitor...Live arm...Intense desire to play." And my favorite: "Can hit."