Anthony Wycklendt, an area scout for the Pittsburgh Pirates, visited Bradley’s campus on Wednesday to meet and interview several members of the Bradley baseball squad.
The Braves who were interviewed included juniors Luke Mangieri and Ben Olson, as well as senior Allan Beer.
According to pitching coach Larry Scully, Wycklendt is the first scout to visit this year, but he does not expect him to be the last.
“Depending on the class in terms of eligibility for the draft and draft prospects, the number of scouts who visit can be anywhere from four to 14,” Scully said. “They’ll reach out to either me or [head] coach [Elvis] Dominguez and let us know who they’d like to talk to. Then we coordinate when the best time to meet is.”
Former Bradley starting pitcher Matt Dennis, who was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in 2016, went through the same process.
“Meeting with a scout, technically, is pretty much just a job interview,” Dennis said. “It gives them an opportunity to get to know you at a level you can’t see on the field. If they are going to invest in you, they want someone who is a good kid and has his priorities straight. Not someone who just throws a good fastball.”
Scully said when meeting with a scout, they are rarely interested in athletic ability. Instead, they focus more on a player’s disposition.
“Scouts want to know what a player’s makeup is, how they handle adversity, their strengths and weaknesses as a person and things they’re trying to continue to work on,” Scully said.
Olson, who started seven games for the Braves last season, said this is not his first interaction with a big league club.
“I’ve thrown a bullpen in front of some scouts, and I’ve met with the Mariners and the Royals,” Olson said. “Right now, it’s all pretty new to me, but it’s fun. You have to enjoy it while you’re going through it.”
Dennis, a member of the Asheville Tourists of the South Atlantic League last season, was not only on hand this past Wednesday to provide moral support for his former teammates. He is also back on the Hilltop to finish his final requirements to receive his bachelor’s degree.
Dennis said he is so keen on finishing school because he guaranteed his parents that he would.
“It was a promise to my parents,” Dennis said. “I remember the day I got drafted, when the scout from the Rockies called me and told me, ‘Hey we just took you.’ I looked at my parents and said, ‘I got drafted,’ and the first thing they said was, ‘You know you’re finishing school, right?’”
While Dennis wraps up his psychology degree and expects to graduate in December, Olson and Mangieri will be preparing for the start of the season.
Though Olson said each time he toes the rubber will now be more meaningful, he will try to take the field with the same mindset he always has.
“I have yet to be on the field with this sort of pressure,” Olson said. “[During] my freshman and sophomore year, all I tried to do was throw strikes and try to get a win for the team. This year I think that’s probably the best mindset I can have going into a game. If you start thinking about getting drafted and what scouts are there, you’re not going to do as good as you usually do.”
Mangieri said he is not going to play any differently than he has in the past.
“I think it’s similar to when you’re in high school getting recruited by colleges,” Mangieri said. “You know there are scouts out there, but if you try to be someone who you’re not, that’s when you’re going to mess up. You just have to go out there and do your thing, and whatever happens or doesn’t happen, you can’t be too upset with. You just have to be yourself.”
The Braves first opportunity to show off their skills will be Feb. 16 in Atlanta as they take on the Georgia State University Panthers in their 2018 season opener.