What used to be open space in a corner of the players' lounge at Alex Box Stadium is now a walled-off room LSU hopes will keep it on the cutting edge of the sport.
This offseason, LSU hired a full-time video coordinator, Jamie Tutko, to run a revamped video scouting department. Tutko reckons he is one of roughly a dozen full-time video coordinators in college baseball.
His work area still has all the markings of being freshly occupied. It’s sparsely decorated, with one large painting hanging above the three workstations. But it’s the tools of his trade that are important, and those are fully operational.
Each workstation has a 49-inch flat-screen TV hanging on the wall above a desk that’s adorned with two additional monitors. This is where LSU players and coaches will spend time off the field to seek an edge.
“It’s a way … to be as prepared as they possibly can when it comes to self-evaluation or scouting in terms of getting ready for a different opponent,” Tutko said. “We just want to give our guys everything they can possibly have to succeed on the field.”
Tutko’s mission is a tedious one: import videos of each of LSU’s opponents, as well as videos of LSU’s own scrimmages, then chart each action to ensure no piece of useful information goes unnoticed.
During an interview this week, he said he had just finished charting a video of TCU, the consensus top-ranked team according to every preseason poll released so far. While he’s charting the game, he’ll note what a team like TCU and its individual players do in certain situations as well as adding his own insight as a scout.
“It’s a process,” Tutko said. “You have to go back and watch every single pitch. But one of the things that coach really liked when he hired me was that I have a background in scouting and writing reports on different teams at the pro level. So my background with that will help when we’re developing scouting reports on how to attack guys.”
Tutko is a former college baseball player who spent his previous five seasons with the Cincinnati Reds and Miami Marlins organizations, the past three years for the Marlins' Triple-A affiliate in New Orleans.
He said video scouting has taken off in professional baseball, especially at the major league level, but it’s still relatively new in the college ranks. Most schools have some sort of a video scouting department, he said, but it’s usually run by student managers.
“They’re basically really scratching the surface of everything it can offer to the team,” Tutko said.
Tutko will work closely with the LSU coaching staff, particularly pitching coach Alan Dunn and hitting coach Micah Gibbs. He said Dunn is constantly watching video in his office, and the same goes for Gibbs, who is freshly removed from a professional career where he used video scouting for himself.
It is then the coach’s job to take in all the information in the scouting reports and condense it into material that is easily digestible.
“The big thing for me is being able to see our hitters,” Gibbs said. “I’m not going to overload them with information. It’s more of a tool for me to be able to know what our hitters are doing when they’re going well, and then make sure … they’re not getting away from that.
“My No. 1 job is to get as much information as possible and to simplify it as much as possible. Give these guys one approach for the pitcher they’re facing, keep it as simple as possible and let them do what they do.”