Who is available to pitch out of the bullpen today? Why is someone in a slump? How is a player adjusting to using a wood bat for the first time?
The questions from scouts cover a lot of topics, and Taylor’s favorite is one that might need an explanation for the non-baseball fan, but makes sense for those familiar with the lingo.
“So, is this player a ‘dude’?”
Translation: “Does this player have the je ne sais quoi, the poise, the talent — all of it — to be a star?”
While there are countless summer collegiate baseball leagues, the Cape Cod League is widely considered the best. It’s where the elite college baseball players from around the country congregate to show MLB front offices what they can do.
And as Major League Baseball scouts descend on the Cape each summer, they want answers that will help their clubs make multi-million dollar decisions in the amateur draft every year.
As a scouting liaison, Taylor makes sure the scouts who attend games get the information they need to correctly evaluate the talent they see on the field. She is able to provide insights to the scouts beyond just the raw numbers because she spends the majority of each game in the Y-D Red Sox dugout.
“In the dugout, you get that feel for who the players are as people, how they are as teammates,” Taylor said. “The more I’m able to be there and talk to the players directly, the more complete answers I can give to the questions scouts ask me.”
The players competing on the Cape are not the only ones with MLB dreams. Taylor wants to get there as well. And to do that, she has to do a little bit of everything.
A psychology major who is a utility player for the Bates softball team, Taylor hails from Fair Lawn, N.J. She comes from a family of Yankee fans, having grown up less than 20 miles from Yankee Stadium.
“I peaked in 2009,” she jokes. (2009 was the last time the Yankees won the World Series… but they’ve won 27 overall, which is 16 more than any other team, so reader sympathy may be limited.)
Taylor attended countless Yankee games growing up, often with her grandfather.
“I was the kid that would keep score at Yankee games,” Taylor said. “My grandpa would sit with me, and we’d get a hot dog and keep our scorebooks on our laps.”
Her grandfather would tell her stories about Yankees from days gone by, advising her to hit like Mickey Mantle and catch like Yogi Berra.
Having played a lot of catcher growing up and as a student of baseball history, Taylor’s favorite player was not any current Yankee, but the late, great Thurman Munson, who played in the Cape Cod League while attending Kent State University in the late 1960s.
Loving baseball was one thing, but actually working in professional baseball didn’t really cross Taylor’s mind until the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
“It was the first time ever that I didn’t have sports in my life,” Taylor said. “I really missed it. I can only watch marbles on ESPN Ocho for so long,” she joked.
Taylor discovered a whole world of opportunities for her to explore in sports.
“Taking into account what I study at Bates, and what I like to do, and how I want to live my life, I started to really look into it and became really invested in it,” Taylor said. “I came to realize this is what I want my future to look like.”
This is Taylor’s second internship with a summer baseball league. Such gigs are typically unpaid, which is where Bates stepped up, awarding Taylor a Purposeful Work internship. Last summer was spent with the Newport Gulls of the New England Collegiate Baseball League, a much more operations-based internship that included running on-field promotions.
For her second internship, Taylor wanted to get between the lines, and she wanted it at the top rung of the collegiate summer league ladder. “I applied to pretty much every Cape League team because I wanted to come to the Cape, come hell or high water,” Taylor said.
“I was with the No. 2 league last summer, and the only place to go is up. I wanted to be in the number one league in the country.”
Now she’s there and her work was noticed by the Y-D front office and coaches.
“From the get-go, the conversations that Amanda and I have had have revolved around networking, if she can, with the scouts,” General Manager Chip Russo said. “Make some contacts, and be able to parlay that into a potential career opportunity. She’s also working very closely with the coaching staff and they like her quite a bit.”
Craig Gianinno has been coaching baseball for 23 years. He is the director of player development for the University of San Francisco and one of the assistant coaches for the Y-D Red Sox. Gianinno arrives at the park earlier than anyone else, and thus, he and Taylor have developed a terrific rapport. He sees the work she puts in for the team.
“Amanda is a leader. She’s proactive. She takes initiative. She’s always looking to serve other people. She is as good as it gets from an organizational point of view,” Gianinno said. “She really cares about her craft and what her role and responsibility is here. The players have a lot of respect for her, and she is very consistent in everything she does to make us better, every single day.”
To say her responsibilities with the Y-D Red Sox vary widely would be an understatement. Sometimes she’s hunched over a laptop, printing stat sheets. Other times she’s on the field, working with the players in the batting cage or spelling a coach who is throwing batting practice.
There’s an art to throwing BP, something Taylor is still learning.
“One guy complained, ‘That was bad,’ and I asked, ‘Why was it bad?’” Taylor said. “‘He goes, ‘You were throwing too hard.’ And I was like, ‘Well, I’ll be damned.’”
“She’s pretty fearless, man,” Gianinno siad. “She gets out there and you’re talking about the best players in the world in amateur baseball. And she’s out there throwing BP to them. I have a ton of respect for her because she’s got a lot of courage. That’s not an easy thing to do. And when we throw BP, we make it look easy, but it’s really not. She gets out there and she does it.”
When Y-D is on the road, Taylor’s work doesn’t stop. Her “side hustle” is traveling to different games in the Cape and serving as the official scorekeeper, a natural fit for Taylor since she grew up keeping score at Yankee games.
When it comes to working in baseball, the elephant in the room remains the fact that the industry is mostly composed of men. But Taylor does not have to be a trailblazer because there are a number of women who have already done it. One of those women is Bianca Smith, the first Black woman to serve as a professional baseball coach.
Smith works for the Florida Complex League Red Sox, a team owned by the big league club and composed mainly of players just getting started in pro baseball.
“It’s really cool to have those people to look up to, and Bianca’s path is just so unique,” Taylor said. “She’s a lawyer who’s an assistant coach for a professional baseball organization. She’s wicked smart and just so good at what she does. It’s nice to have someone that I can lean on and catch up with.”
Smith’s primary advice to Taylor has been to continue to assert herself, which is not a problem for Taylor.
“If anyone can assert themselves, it’s me,” Taylor said. “That’s the New Jersey in me.”
It’s 90 minutes before first pitch, and the interns are bantering in the press box of Red Wilson Field, a high school field that also happens to host the Y-D Red Sox each summer.
“What don’t you do, Amanda?” asks the team’s video production manager.
Per usual, the wireless Internet isn’t working. And Taylor, the only person on staff who knows how to operate the printer, has been busy printing rosters and statistics and doing other administrative work, which can, at times, seem like half her day.
It’s all part of the strange dichotomy of the Cape, so close to the top level of baseball, yet so far.
Players who will be worth millions in a year or two travel to games on school buses and play on high school fields, some of which don’t have lights. Interns, who attend some of the top colleges in the country, deal with faulty WiFi and whatever else may come up over the course of a day.
Taylor is chatting with some of the interns about her experience throwing batting practice.
“What don’t you do, Amanda?” asks the team’s video production manager, a local to the area.
Taylor laughs and jokes that she’s the hyphen in Y-D.
But it’s true. She makes everything connect. Well, except the Internet. Someone else is checking on that.