Date of Paper/Work


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Leadership (Ed.D.)

Type of Paper/Work



Thomas Fish; Sarah Noonan; Steve Emerson


A growing body of research focuses on talent identification as a critical building block in the process of talent development. Professional baseball scouts’ level of expertise in identifying baseball talent directly impacts organizations’ competitive success at the Major League level, yet the performance productivity of MLB franchises’ draft selections fails to generate a positive rate of investment return. This qualitative, phenomenological study examined how 13 veteran, professional baseball scouts define player attributes and make decisions to identify or eliminate prospects. My analysis of participants’ in-depth, reflexive interviews employed the theoretical lens of reflective knowledge (Schon, 1983), talent development (Bloom, 1985; Csikszentmihalyi, Rathunde, and Whalen, 1993), and performance expertise (Ericsson, 1993; 1996; 1998; 2007, June; 2009). My findings outlined a three-stage talent identification model and uncovered three trends found within professional baseball scouts’ talent identification mindsets and prospect decision-making. First, scouts’ dispositional mindset influences comparative recall and visual knowledge. Second, the makeup traits of competitive adaptability, extra effort, instinct and intellect are highly valued. Third, guess, gut, and instinct integrated with visual knowledge and valued makeup traits direct scouts’ player selection decisions. These outcomes clarify the sources of scouts’ talent identification knowledge, their preferred prospect attributes, and their player selection tendencies. In response to these findings, I recommended six benchmarks that frame the cognitive fundamentals of effective baseball scouting. These fundamentals provide a framework directed toward increasing MLB franchises’ net yield for successful Major League player identification, selection, and development.


professional baseball scout, talent identification, performance expertise, intuition, repertoire, visual knowledge

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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