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Analyzing the Return: Steve Shields

Dick Balderson's 1st big deal will be heavily scrutinized. We look at a potential hidden gem.

neither you nor baseball are ready
neither you nor baseball are ready

Scouting Report: Steve Shields

Born: November 30, 1958

Birthplace: Gadsen, AL

Background/Personal Information: Son of immigrants. Grew up in extreme poverty on a failing livestock farm. Dropped out of school after 4th grade to help out at home. According to friends and family, during the dry times Shields took up whittling the local Silver Maples that were plentiful around the farmhouse. One of his first attempts at whittling was a fishing pole; however, he was bad at measuring and whittling so he ended up with a crude boomerang.  With few other options for food and too much free time Shields took to the forests and hunted wild boar with the boomerang, helping feed his family of 9 and, perhaps, strengthening his arm while developing his unique, almost underhand delivery motion.

At 14, suffered a catastrophic injury to his left leg when he ran away to join a circus and attempted to find work as a trapeze artist. Due to the poor work of the Carny's resident doctor (his medical expertise was playing a clown doctor in a circus) his leg healed in such a way that his left foot was offset from his leg at almost a 60 degree angle. While this limited his success in cross country and geocaching it allows for a unique pivot point on his plant foot while pitching, creating one of the most unique delivery angles ever seen.

Did not play baseball until his time in the Army in his late teens, when a fellow soldier at base in Germany taught him the game. Helped the Baumholder Bombers to a 2nd place finish in 1977.

Physical Description: Legs and arms. Arms and legs. Little else. Torso appears to be mostly decorative and added at the last minute to avoid the horrified screams of women/children. Coupled with unusually bulbous head it would appear God was feeling mischievous when he created Steve Shields. At 6'7" tons of length. Good shot blocker with room to grow even more. Lots of upside.

Strengths: Deceptive delivery. Extremely large hands allows for unique fastball grip with only thumb and middle finger, creating excellent sink and horizontal movement.  Unique arm slot leads to a slider described by one right handed batter as "Satan's Frisbee". Can tie own shoes, when reminded.

Weaknesses: Almost no baseball knowledge of any kind. Often forgets the count. Frequently leaves glove in the dugout when he goes out to pitch. Often mumbles about boars. Appears at times to think that the goal of the game is to hit the batter with the ball. Managers appear frustrated with below average comprehension and knowledge retention. One coach told anecdote about Shields, having just been called in to pitch and announced on the PA, raising his right hand and shouting "Here!" before beginning his warmups.

Fastball: 90-92, excellent horizontal movement and sink. Below average command. Bestial cry during windup tends to unsettle batters in the box. Willing to throw pitch to any hitter in any count. Present Grade: 45. Future Grade: 65

Slider: Plus pitch. Appears to spring out of the ground like a Flor de la Muerte to right handed hitters before darting sharply downward. Shields's propensity to throw fastball directly at hitters increases slider's effectiveness. Present Grade: 60 Future Grade: 70

Changeup: Needs work. Currently just fastball with a violent hitch mid-delivery.  Attempts to teach true changeup grip hampered by Shields's insistence that it feels like patting the head of a very small, bald child. Fear of children not yet understood, but likely fixable. Current grade: 30 Future Grade: 45

Summation: In my opinion he can be a shutdown reliever for years. Slider/Fastball combo already ML ready. If changeup surprises he can even start.  May have trouble adjusting to the off the field experiences of the big leagues due to late exposure to things like electricity and soda pop.  While I wouldn't trust him watching my kids I would trust him with a late, one run lead. Potential steal.