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Scouting Update: Peter Tago, RHP, Dana Hills (CA) HS (2010 Draft)

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April 8, 2010

At a time of the year when some premier prospects put their personal dollar sign in front of the modestly talented souls wearing the same uniform, Dana Hills right-hander Peter Tago put team in front of the draft. Pitching on four days rest, he proved why scouting a prospect in whom you will invest a great sum of money is best done when the evaluation does not begin and end with the raw fastball.

Tago was coming off of his best outings of the year in which he hit 97 and controlled his fastball at 94-95. He also threw his hard curveball in the high 70s in that start. Expecting the same velocity on four-days rest would be asking much of any high school starting pitching prospect.

Tago took the ball anyway. He showed a willingness to be a warrior to help his team first and worry about scouts later. This might sound hokey, but consider what it might otherwise show. After all, you know the velocity is there. What else is?

In this game, Tago again showed the capacity to pitch and win with what he has on a given day. In this case, he was probably about 70 percent instead of 100 percent strength. Instead of topping 97, Tago hit 93. Instead of pitching 94-95, he pitched 90-92 and averaged 91 with a two-seam running fastball with the ability to consistently control the corners. Tago’s stuff possesses late life, one of his hallmarks. 

With his breaking ball power a notch below what he has at full strength, Tago can still create enough power to show that the pitch easily profiles as a pro weapon. He threw it at 72 in this outing.

His slider in this outing was 73-74 and effective as a pro pitch, even if it wasn’t the 75-76 slider with sweeping action that Tago has shown when fresher. He has a fourth pitch, a change-up, which was not thrown in this game, and he’s rarely thrown it in games this spring.

What helps separate Tago, for me, is the makeup. Time after time I have seen this guy execute in game situations with what he has on a given day. As for putting the team first, you can call me cliché all you want, but I guarantee that when they turn this guy over to the farm system, the lifer coaches are going to love him because he won’t have the bonus-baby mentality. That’s what scouting was supposed to be. Some scouts pay attention. Some guys don’t. I was taught to value the player’s make-up. And I think Tago is a pro gamer with pro stuff.

An example of this came when Tago allowed a lead-off triple then struck out the side using his true curveball as an out pitch and a pair of 91 fastballs on the outside corner for out pitches. Mixed into this sequence was one elevated pitch that would have been a mistake as a pro. But what you want to see is the ability to repeat the best pitch you have deep in the game with runners in scoring position. I have seen Tago do this consistently.

He also got three hits and ran the bases. He pitched six innings and his velocity did not suffer even after running, which should show you some athleticism and also show how this is a guy who wants to win. That should matter when scouting gifted amateurs.

I prefer starting pitchers who act like they are not on an island. I prefer guys who show emotion, empathy and support of the players around them. You may think I’m going down a road that doesn’t matter when you break a prospect down. But ask yourself this: once you know what the guy can do physically, and you’re sold, why shouldn’t it be important to care about his make-up? It goes for any player.

How many times have you seen a big league team run a guy out of town when they can’t stand how he behaves in the locker room? And that’s why guys with talent who also give you all they have, no matter how fresh they are, should always be noted. I would hate to sign a talented player who is afriad to compete.

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