The Phillies' internal draft report on Jimmy Rollins surfaced last week and it provides a fun look back at the very best player in the 1996 draft.
Once upon a time, Bob Poole, the area scout monitoring him, had to fudge Rollins' height to ensure the Phillies remained interested.
"I'd heard stories about cross-checkers from other teams. I won't mention the organization," Poole told Jim Salisbury in 2007.
"One of them who came to see Jimmy walked out and said, 'Hell, he's just a little kid.' I wanted to make sure we'd get a cross-checker to come out to see him, so I fudged a little on his height. As soon as they saw him play, his size didn't matter."
The Phillies fell for Rollins and made him the 46th overall pick in 1996. He ended up having, by far, the best career of any player in any round of that draft class.
It's somewhat surprising then, that the highest future grade given to Rollins in a Phillies draft report in the spring of '96 was a 55 on the scouting scale from 20 to 80. Poole marked Rollins down as a future 55 for fielding ability, range, body control and aggressiveness. The lowest grades were 40 for raw power and power production and 45 for running speed.
Rollins outgrew almost all of these projections. He turned into an elite defensive shortstop and won four Gold Gloves. He was a premium baserunner from Day 1. Rollins led the NL with 46 stolen bases in his first full year and led the league in triples four times. Even when his speed slipped a bit, his instincts were still top-notch.
"Tool wise, it's all here, except consistent power," part of the draft report read.
The power did come. The season every Phillies fan will remember is 2007 when he hit .296 with 30 homers, 20 triples, 38 doubles and 41 steals to win NL MVP. But Rollins also had three other seasons with at least 20 home runs, four seasons with at least 40 doubles and five seasons with double-digit triples.
From a makeup standpoint, Rollins was already receiving high grades by the age of 17. He received a mark of "Excellent" in self-confidence, mental toughness, instincts and aggressiveness. Those four qualities remained staples of Rollins' career.
"Will be early pick by the club that will go for tools over size," Poole wrote in March of 1996. Going for tools doesn't always work, but in this case, it led the Phillies to the best shortstop in franchise history.