In 1999, Mark Wasinger was a scout for the San Diego Padres who traveled to Semmes, Ala., to watch a 17-year-old high school pitching prospect.
His name was Jake Peavy.
“He was very, very impressive,” Wasinger recalled. “He had movement, he had flexibility. And most of all, he was just a competitor. He would see a hitter, see how he set up in the box and know exactly how to work him. He saw their weaknesses and could think two, three pitches ahead. You don’t normally see that at that age.”
Wasinger said Peavy was on the radar of almost every team.
“But in the end, it came down to his size,” Wasinger said. “At 6-foot-1, he wasn’t the 6-foot-5 Brandon Workman physical type that is the prototype. A lot of people thought that for Peavy, maybe that wear and tear might not suit him for the long term.”
Peavy also had committed to play at Auburn, another red flag. Teams thought he would be difficult to sign. Auburn was just a three and a half hours down I-65 from Peavy’s hometown.
So Peavy dropped to the 15th round. But the Padres did sign him.
Wasinger never really kept in touch with Peavy. He has scouted hundreds and hundreds of prospects. It’s just the way baseball works, he said.
Wasinger and Peavy took completely different career paths, until now.
In the days before the Red Sox acquired Peavy from the White Sox in a three-team trade, Wasinger sat in on meetings with Red Sox general manager Ben Cherrington.
Today, Wasinger is a special assignment scout for Boston. Having the Sox acquire a prospect he scouted 14 years ago brings his career full circle.
“There had been times before where his name had come up in Sox meeting rooms,” Wasinger said. “At those points in his career, it was a difficult fit. But I know how he pitches in big games and I know he’s just a battler. First hand, I know he is going to come up big for Boston and hopefully take us deep in the playoffs.”
Wasinger recalled this story on Thursday morning in a telephone interview. He was in Syracuse, enduring a rain delay, set to watch four games throughout the day.
He has not talked to Peavy yet since he was acquired. He will be in Fenway Park over the next few weeks and looks forward to catching up.
A few years ago, Wasinger did run into Peavy’s parents. He scouted a player at Samford University, where Peavy’s brother, Luke, was the catcher.
“It was nice to see them then,” Wasinger said. “But it will be really nice to see Jake.”