BY STEVE KRAH
How a player can swing a bat or throw a baseball is important to Texas Rangers area scout Mike Medici.
But it goes deeper than that.
“It’s about doing a better job of knowing the person,” says Medici, who lives near Danville and Avon on the west side of Indianapolis. “I appreciate the story. I like to know what drives them, the influences in their lives.
“There’s adversity. It’s not smooth sailing all the time. It’s important knowing anything and everything about them. I go as deep as I have to. I go to the people who don’t have a vested interest.
“It’s anyone who is going to give you a straight answer about that player. If he shows up to camp and he’s a screwball and not putting in the work, that comes back to the signing scout.”
Much can be learned from trainers and strength and conditioning coaches who sometimes spend more time with players than their on-field coaches.
Some players may be found to be a little immature or party too much.
“They may have been coddle a little bit in high school,” says Medici. “We can work with that.
“If so-and-so needs to grow up a little bit, teams will try to pair guys up away from the complex that are going to be good influences on each other.”
Medici says the high school player is the riskiest to draft but offers the most upside because of their age and the time they have to develop.
Major League Baseball organizations are investing in these athletes so they want to know what they’re getting and scouts like Medici are the ones gathering much of that information and forming those relationships.
Medici, who was an area scout in Indiana and Illinois for the Toronto Blue Jays December 2009 to June 2013 before going with the Rangers and scouting Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Kentucky since November 2013, sees mid-range prospects getting to and making an impact at the big league level.
He uses Paul DeJong — a fourth-round draft pick in 2015 out of Illinois State University and now the starting shortstop of the St. Louis Cardinals — as an example.
“We want to see how big the make-up component shapes who he is,” says Medici.
Gavin Lux was a 2016 first-round selection by the Los Angeles Dodgers out of Wisconsin. He made it to the majors in 2019, but not before experiencing some trials in the minors.
“I could have told you that he will overcome,” says Medici. “That’s the kind of kid he was with a tireless work ethic and dedication to the game.”
Medici notes that some players have never really experienced prolonged failure, begging the question: “Can he handle adversity and overcome?”
“A high school kid may have been the big fish in a small pond for a long, long time,” says Medici. “When they fail and they’re trying to make adjustments at a high level and they don’t know how to handle it.”
Medici relates it to football.
“How many Five Star high school recruits become great NFL players?,” says Medici. “They go to college where there is structure and systems that allow them to succeed.”
It changes when the athlete becomes a professional.
“I tell my guys, ‘it’s your career,’” says Medici. “You have to own your career. We’ll guide you, but you’ve got to put in the work.”
Born in Albany, N.Y., Medici is a former catcher at Shaker High School in Latham, N.Y. (north of Albany) and NCAA Division I Niagra University near Niagra Falls, N.Y., and an assistant coach at The College of Saint Rose in Albany.
Medici says his background as a catcher helped him make the switch to scout.
“It’s amazing the way they see the game,” says Medici of catchers. “They end up learning every position on the field and they know pitching staff.”
When he was hired by the Blue Jays and then general manager Alex Anthopoulos, Medici moved to Chicago. When he went to the Rangers and added Wisconsin and Kentucky to his territory, he settled in the Indianapolis area.
“We absolutely love it here,” says Medici. “The thing I’ve learned about living here is that people are passionate about their sport
“This has been a very productive state for me. Every year, there’s players up here.”
Invited to fall instructional league while with the Blue Jays, Medici was able to be sort of a member of the coaching staff, hitting fungos, pitching batting practice and soaking it all in.
“I would listen, learn and ask questions,” says Medici.
Also while in Chicago, Medici lived near Sal Fasano and learned a lot about baseball from a man who played at the University of Evansville and was a catcher in the big leagues and now a catching coach for the Atlanta Braves.
Medici estimates that he puts in 30,000 miles a year looking for prospects. Whenever possible, he commutes to be home with his wife of seven years, Beth (a southern Illinois native), and their three children, 6-year-old son Miles and 1-year-old twins Beckham (boy) and Raelyn (girl).
With fall games winding down in the Midwest, Medici is transitioning to doing face-to-face meetings with college players. He will do this up until about Thanksgiving then turn to high school players. During the winter, he will invite college players in to work out — often at former major league pitcher Bill Sampen’s Samp’s Hack Shack in Plainfield.
“I can see them work away from campus,” says Medici.
There has been rumors of restructuring and shrinking the minor leagues and the scout has his take.
“If you start taking levels aways, it’s going to hurt the development,” says Medici. “The game’s getting younger.
“There’s a need to have (multiple levels). You can’t rush young kids.”
Medici, who also holds a masters degree in sport management from Canisius College in Buffalo, N.Y., started a website last winter — ScoutSchool.org — as a way to educate scouts and bring them together as a community.
Medici went on The Baseball Awakening Podcast to talk about scouting in June.
The Medici family (from left): Raelyn, Beth, Miles, Mike and Beckham. Mike Medici is an area scout with the Texas Rangers. The family resides near Danville and Avon on the west side of Indianapolis.
The Medici family (clockwise from upper left): Mike, Beth, Miles, Beckham and Raelyn. Mike Medici is an area scout for the Texas Rangers. The Medicis reside near Danville and Avon west of Indianapolis.
The Medici family (from left): Beckham, Beth, Miles, Mike and Raelyn. Mike Medici is an area scout with the Texas Rangers. The Medicis live in central Indiana.