In the final edition of Scouting the Draft, Nick introduces this year's collegiate southpaws
Today’s installment of Scouting the Draft looks at five collegiate left-handers with the chance to come off the board in the early rounds next June. As a reminder, the goal of this series is not to cover every name worth knowing for next June; we have plenty of time to bring you full reports on the top draft-eligible players for 2013 over the next seven months. This is meant to serve as an introduction to the draft class for those who have not yet begun to follow the action and to pool in one place a rundown of some of the top performances in the months leading up to the draft before we start parsing the class in more detail.
Matt Boyd | LHP | Oregon St. University 2/2/1991
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Our 2013 draft preview continues with a look at some of the more interesting collegiate outfield bats.
Today’s installment of Scouting the Draft looks at five collegiate outfielders with the chance to come off the board in the early rounds next June. As a reminder, the goal of this series is not to cover every name worth knowing for next June; we have plenty of time to bring you full reports on the top draft-eligible players for 2013 over the next seven months. This is meant to serve as an introduction to the draft class for those who have not yet begun to follow the action and to pool in one place a rundown of some of the top performances in the months leading up to the draft before we start parsing the class in more detail.
For one pitch in Friday's Mets-Brewers game, neither batter nor pitcher knew what the other was up to.
Okay, here’s one for the comedy department. On Friday night, for reasons that remain unclear, I found myself watching a bit of the Mets’ 7-3 win over the Brewers. I was flipping back and forth, only half paying attention. Then, in the bottom of the second, with one out and men at first and third, Norichika Aoki and Jon Niese revealed they were paying about as much attention as I was:
While roaming the floors of the next Winter Meetings, be sure to take this handy guide to coolness to let you know where to flock.
The Winter Meetings are a yearly gathering where the baseball industry makes every attempt to recreate the adolescent experience, from the pangs of isolation and insecurity to the power of popular cliques to the masquerade of playing dress-up. The emotional current can be extreme and confusing. The cool kids in the clique are either legitimately cool people or people who have been in the scene long enough to assemble a substantial posse, and as a result appear legitimately cool because they never ride alone. Within the cool clique are several grades of coolness, be it individual or the coolness of the group itself; rarely does a pack of legitimately cool people end up in the same posse for any duration, as the dynamics suggests too many legitimately cool people in the same clique will create a power struggle for the position of the Alpha Cool, a coveted position in any social group. To achieve premium coolness and coolness sustainability, cliques should hold the following dynamic:
The Alpha Cool: This is the coolest member of each social group, a person who can attract other people with coolness into his or her atmosphere. Alpha Cools can be the designated Alpha Cools for several cliques at the same time, holding elite status despite the established dynamic of a particular group. Alpha Cools are usually public figures in their professional life, men or women with a particular shine or exceptional quality. They have large personalities and encourage people to be in the audience of that personality, either because of the personality itself, the platform that personality functions in, the always desirable ability to offer verbose yet compelling fantastical tales while under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substances, or superficial qualities that naturally draw people in, like proper dress, unique or well-presented groom, or innate physical beauty. Alpha Cools burn bright and can quickly burn out, depending on the specific nature of their profession or platform, personality, or in the event of diminished capacity to story-tell or hold liquor in full function.
A year after his passing, the stellar Cubs third baseman was elected to the Hall of Fame.
One of the creepier truths of the music industry is that death is a good career move. The attention surrounding the passing of an artist brings new attention to his or her body of work, offering not only a chance for critical reassessment but also commercial gain — at least for whomever is left behind to enjoy its benefits. Such a parallel may be the most charitable way to assess what happened to Ron Santo, who one year and two days after his passing, and 37 years after the end of his career was finally elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame via the Golden Era ballot, whose voting results were announced on Monday morning at the Winter Meetings in Dallas.
How much does a pitcher's secondary arsenal, mound presence, and poise play into a scout's evaluation?
In part one, I blathered on about fastball evaluation and the three main components of the overall pitcher grade: command, velocity, and movement. About 2,000 words later (200 to set the mood, 200 to make the point, and 1,600 to expose my weaknesses as a writer), I hope that the reader formed a closer bond with my process, though it sometimes seemed like I cared more about the beef industry than scouting. I’m not going to apologize for that. I care about beef. I’m from Texas. I also ride a horse to work and wear a duster. Moving on.
It’s time to shift our attention to what I look for when evaluating a pitcher’s secondary arsenal [read: complementary pitches, e.g., slider, curveball, changeup, etc.], mound presence/poise, and pitchability. While a good fastball can carry the majority of the load and is therefore set up to receive most of the accolades, the secondary and tertiary components of the arsenal will ultimately define the attainable range of success. Outliers always exist, so you might run across arsenals that aren’t built with the bones of a fastball, or arsenals that consist of one super-wizard pitch (Mariano Rivera’s cutter), but for this evaluation, let’s just assume we are scouting a human, and not a knuckleballer or a Panamanian relief wizard.
Exploring the effects of concussions and the implications of the seven-day disabled list.
Hitting a baseball isn't the most difficult activity in sports—changing a long-standing culture is. For many years, a player was not officially diagnosed with a concussion unless there was a loss of consciousness. That started to change a few decades ago, but the physiological causes and long-term effects of concussions still were not fully understood. Thus, practices among players and non-medical personnel remained static.
It was almost as if concussions were not a part of the game of baseball except in the rarest of cases—they were considered nearly exclusive to the NFL, where raw power and violence reigned, or to the NHL, where speed and power dominated. If you have been paying attention to baseball over the last decade, you know this is not the case. Players were suffering concussions that were originally thought to be mild before suffering from post-concussive syndrome for weeks or months.
The first half of an extended conversation with an OBP fiend about coming up with the Senators, playing for Billy and Yogi, and more.
Toby Harrah has been in the game of baseball for over 40 years, and the long-time infielder for the Rangers and Indians has loved every minute of it. Currently the minor league hitting coordinator for the Tigers, Harrah debuted with the Washington Senators in 1969 before going on to earn All-Star honors four times while spending all but one of his 17 seasons with the Senators/Rangers franchise and the Cleveland Indians. A shortstop and third baseman known for his patient hitting approach, Harrah finished among the league leaders in walks nine times, and in OBP six times. A right-handed hitter who broke into the big leagues under the tutelage of Ted Williams, Harrah had five seasons of 20 home runs or more and 238 career stolen bases to go with an OBP of .365. Harrah talked about his love for the game, including what it was like to play for managers like Williams, Yogi Berra, and Billy Martin, and with teammates like Joe Charboneau, Curt Flood, and Denny McLain.
One of the players Baltimore-bound via the Bedard trade talks about dealing with getting dealt and coming to The Show from Montana.
Kam Mickolio wasn't one of the bigger names in last February's six-player Eric Bedard deal, but the 24-year-old right-hander is hard to miss when he ambles out of the Orioles' bullpen. The native of Wolf Point, Montana-a hometown Mickolio shares with former Orioles outfielder John Lowenstein-is a mountain of a man at 6'9" and 255 pounds. Size aside, he gets the attention of opposing hitters thanks to a mid-90s power sinker that he throws from a low three-quarters arm slot. An 18th-round pick by the Mariners in 2006 out of Utah Valley State, Mickolio began the 2008 season in Double-A before making his big-league debut in late August. Mickolio appeared in nine games for the Orioles, posting a record of 0-1 with a 5.87 ERA. Mickolio talked about the road from Montana to Maryland when the Orioles visited Fenway Park in September.
The streaking submariner talks about changing to a new delivery, ignoring his success, and what he has to do differently.
Brad Ziegler is still perfect. One of the best stories of the 2008 season, Ziegler made his 28th appearance out of the A's bullpen on Friday, and again didn't give up a run. Since making his big-league debut on May 31, the submarining right-hander has thrown 37 scoreless innings, the most ever to begin a career. Originally a 20th-round pick by the Phillies out of Southwest Missouri State in 2003, the 28-year-old Ziegler has survived a pair of skull fractures and a stint in indie ball on his way to chasing cult status in Oakland.
Catching prospects you should know about, a draft-day steal from just last month, and top prospects you shouldn't give up on just yet.
J.P. Arencibia, C, Double-A New Hampshire (Blue Jays)
When one talks about hitters in the Blue Jays system at the advanced levels, the conversation usually begins and ends with Travis Snider. However, don't forget about Arencibia, the former Tennessee catcher and one of two first-round picks from 2007 for the organization. After hitting .315 with 13 home runs in 59 Florida State League games, Arencibia has moved up to Double-A, where he has shown even more power, blasting his ninth home run of the year on Saturday for New Hampshire in just 136 at-bats. Yet he's done this in relative anonymity; how many people know that on the season, Arencibia has two more home runs than Matt Wieters? To be fair, he's not on the same prospect level as Wieters, and he's drawn just two walks in 34 Eastern League games for a somewhat strange .287/.300/.522 line, but real catching prospects of any kind are a rare commodity; ones with power even more so.
There are lots of ways to present numeric information. In addition to just handing someone a big stack of numbers, you can create charts or graphs until the cows come home or the Tigers score five runs in a game--whichever comes first. In many circumstances, there will be some sort of an industry standard, and if you choose to diverge from that standard, you can bet that some of your very valuable time is going to be spent justifying your deviation from the norm. That's what's been going on in the baseball media and front offices for nearly a quarter century now--trying to change the norms of what information is used to evaluate players.
I'm always amazed at how little attention we all pay to how information is presented to us; in business, baseball, everyday life, wherever. You get used to seeing information a particular way, and--allowing for some brain chemistry fun that none of us like to acknowledge very much--you use that information to make decisions. Deciding what information to include in a presentation, and how to display it to best accomplish your goals is something of an art form. If you're pitching a group of venture capitalists on why your company is worth $11 million rather than the $6 million they think it's worth, you have to create your presentation, and the resulting argument, in a particular fashion that best suits both your agenda and the raw information you're choosing to include.