The world of scouting and evaluating baseball players is endlessly fascinating. There are thousands of players and you can examine each on a host of different dimensions. The team here at Bless You Boys, the Tigers Prospect Report, does a terrific job of profiling the Tigers top prospects are and explaining what you might expect from them. But, let's face it, in the end these guys have no idea if a player is going to turn out to be really good or not. But evaluating players is a passion, dare I say a lifestyle. A passion not unlike people who enjoy, evaluate, and speculate on fine wines. Let's take a look at the similarities.
A language all their own
Scouts compose "scouting reports" filled with words like tools, ceiling, upside, floor, projectablity, plus, plus plus, and, even if tongue-in-cheek, things like WANT.
Wine experts write "tasting notes" using words like jammy, smokey, refreshing, dense, supple, vibrant, and, totally not tongue-in-cheek, words like unpretentious or focused
Baseball scouts rate each prospect's tools on a scale from 20-80 because, well, WHO THE HECK KNOWS?! Wine people, on the other hand, evaluate their beverages on a scale from 50-100 for the same unknown reason why scouts use 20-80. Would 0-100 really be that much less clear people?!
Both scouts and wine snobs claim to have special insight based on their years of training in the field. It takes lots of practice to discern the difference between a plus change up and a plus-plus change up and the difference between a wine the is expressive and a wine that is expansive.
People wait with bated breath each year for Baseball America to release its top 100 prospect report. But it doesn't end there. Each team needs a top 50 report and then a breakdown of the players with the top tools in each organization. Wine snobs are no better. Each year Wine Spectator releases its list of top 100 wines. Of course this is further broken down into rankings by region and by varietal.
Even with the proliferation of advanced metrics there is still much disagreement about baseball players. The name Jhonny Peralta is one that stirs distain from some and casual acceptance from others. Plus, there is ALWAYS a future element. For example, who is the better baseball player: Bryce Harper or Mike Trout? It can very from person to person or even week to week.
The same can be said for wine. I have different tastes than you. I like shortstops who can actually hit and sweet wines like Rieslings. I'm sure Lynn Henning likes shortstops with all range and no bat as well as $85 bottles of Pinot Noir.
It's something to go from
Sure, both scouting reports and tasting notes are subjective at best and worthless at worst. But everyone uses them. Why? Because they are something to work off of. Also, they can tell you the general direction and quality of the thing evaluated. If many scouts/snobs give a good review, there is a much better chance the player/bottle is going to be pretty good. Plus, we need something to use to talk about the the player and validate our own hobby.
What about the Tigers top 10 prospects? Glad you asked.
1. 2010 Nick Castellanos, 3b/of, Tempranillo, Archbishop McCarthy Vineyards, Florida, 95, $34
This hard hitting wine unfolds with notes of oak, moss, and pine tar. Concentrated, sultry, masculine and impressive. It has it all—focus, depth, detail and power. Fleshy grip reminiscent of old wines of yesteryear. Pairs well with field greens and beef.
2. 2007 Avisail Garcia, of, Malbec, Anzoategui Winery, Venezuela, 92, $2
Stately, stunning Malbec with alluring aromas of ash wood, ripe fruit, teak, and dandelion along with major league berry action*. The profile is saturated, pure, tannic and loaded with blasting berry fruit, bubble gum, tobacco, sunflower seeds and more. Stature suggestive of other impressive Venezuelan wines. Pair with salsa and rice krispy treats cereal.
*yes, I did find the phrase "major league berry action" in a real wine review
3. 2008 Bruce Rondon, rhp, Merlot, Valencia Vineyards, Venezuela, 90, $6
Here’s a "wow" wine you won’t easily forget. Rondon is all Merlot, and happily delivers the softness, velocity and overall opulence that we love in this noble grape variety. Explosive. What elevates this particular expression and vintage is the true power and heft evident here. This is a huge wine, but it’s perhaps a bit exaggerated and the delivery is as long as they come. Goes down easily. Pairs well with game hens.
4. 2012 Jake Thompson, rhp, Pinot Gris Rockwall-Heath Farms, Texas, 88, $5.30
Produced in a region known for wines with powerful, angular overtones. A dry style, packed with spice and direct fruit. Powerful hints of string bean and tall drink of water. Still young, this wine will evolve over the next 3-4 years. Pairs well with barbecue and toast.
5. 2012 Austin Schotts, of, Riesling, Centennial Winery, Texas 85, $4
Buoyant and spritely with a surprisingly high alcohol content. Short to it and long through it. Notes of vanilla, agave, and rabbit. More powerful flavors may develop with age. Pair with pinch of salt and squeeze of lime.
6. 2010 Danry Vasquez, of, Ocumare del Tuy Estates, Venezula, 84, $12
There’s plenty of new maple, but the fruit, acid and leather stand up to it. Excellent barrel awareness. This is sharp and tangy. Still young, give it some time in a decanter or in your cellar to come together and show its best. Body offers significant more projection for added mass as it matures, fills out, and continues in conditioning.
7. 2011 Tyler Collins, of, White Zinfandel, Howard Farms, Texas, 88, $2
A very popular springtime wine. It’s extraordinarily deeply flavored, offering waves of strong wood, wild cherries, grass, cola, anise (LOL!), molé sauce, pabst beer, pepper spice, grapefruit, kitchen sink drain basket remains, and sandalwood. Don't be too eager to open, let it age for at least another year or two (maybe more). Then let it rip with ribeyes.
8. 2007 Casey Crosby, lhp, Gewürztraminer, Kaneland Vineyards, Illinois, 81, $7.50
Very solidly built and a well put together wine. Untamed. Perfumed with wild berries, crab apples, and road side ditch weed flowers. Needs more time to develop a balanced and controlled tasting experience. Pair with flounder.
9. 2008 Eugenio Suarez, ss/2b, Cabernet Sauvignon, Puerto Ordaz Vinyards, Venezuela, 81, $2
This wine doesn't "wow" you the leather flavors of some other Cabernet's. Has an aggressive approach at the palate, which gets it into trouble, but it has good enough natural woody notes to where it has been able to get away with it.
10. 2009 Adam Wilk, lhp, Ajakae Wild Grape Sweet Meoru, Long Beach Winery, California, 80, $4
This sweet version of the wild-at-heart Meoru grape of South Korea's Mt. Jiri might be a little too touch-and-feel for American palates but strongly appealing to Asian tastes. Its controlled and mild aromas and flavors are not unappealing. A little rustic and sappy but with dessert or after a meal, a fun find. Serve with gangnam style cuisine.
**Portions of these scouting reports were lifted (and sometimes edited) from Wine Enthusiast Magazine Online and our very own Tigers Prospect report.