Stats through June 7
Outside of A.J. Burnett's emotional-agility coach, does anyone in or around baseball have a tougher job than the scouts charged with prospecting for this week's draft? As I followed the coverage over the last few weeks -- and the volume of it, happily, has quintupled in the last two years -- the enormity and complexity of their mission got me all pensive and whatnot.
The number of variables they must consider and the amount of extraneous noise they must filter out are dizzying. Some college sluggers get fat on low-conference pitching; some high-school pitchers build their statistical portfolios on the backs of pee-wee hitters allergic to curveballs. Even if scouts do the job right, they're usually wrong. Shoulders wilt and ulnar collateral ligaments fray. Can't-miss prospects miss. Late-round nepotism picks become Hall of Famers (read: Mike Piazza). It's something of a crap shoot.
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And then there's the intellectual and psychological maturity of the draftees. I don't know what I would've done if, fresh out of high school or college, somebody had dropped a huge pile of money in my lap ("spend it recklessly, on stuff that is fast, shiny and fleshy" sounds about right). Scouts can do their homework in advance -- get the requisite "he's a good kid" quote from the high-school coach, etc. -- but they never really know. A great and imposing majority of 20-year-old boys are idiots, and that's before you increase their allowance eight-thousand-fold.
So when you read the draft wrapups, keep in mind the randomness of the entire endeavor. And hope your team owed a favor to a connected dude like Vince Piazza.