I'm guessing some of you have participated in a sports draft of some sort. Whether in a fantasy league or a mock draft of some sort, one feeling makes the effort worth the time. You announce your selection, and a rival selector drops into a torrent of language Al doesn't want us to use here.
You just took the guy they wanted. Great feeling.On the Minor League Ball sister station, Princeton performed as Team Theo, and represented well. He focused on pitching (California HS LHP Max Fried and Georgia lefty Alex Wood) and catchers (Miami C Pete O'Brien and Texas HS catcher Wyatt Mathisen), and grabbing Patrick Wisdom (3B from St. Mary's in California) to close out. While this draft isn't that strong for cinch MLB All Stars, there is depth. Quite a few swear words were tossed on Saturday.
Why, you may ask, does it seem there are so many college pitchers getting respect this year? Part of it is college baseball, like most things, runs in cycles. Part of it is the new bats. Part of it is.... I'll get to that later.
Last season, college baseball changed the bats to 'BBCOR composite bats'. What are those? Without using trajectoral velocity-speak, they're aluminum bats that represent more like wood. The people in charge of college baseball were tired of so many 4-hour, 18-15 games. By dumbing-down the bats, a fly that used to carry 385 to RCF off of or over the fence would travel 370, and get caught in the gap. Now, if a college kid has 15 homers, that's a solid, believable number. In the day, a 25 HR season left a team (like the Cubs, who didn't actually 'scout' players as much as most teams did) wondering if the 25 were legit.
Okay, you can see why hitters numbers would be 'lower', but why does that lead to a run on pitching?
On its own, it doesn't. Remember, though, pitching is a skill-set. Just because a kid can throw hard doesn't mean he can locate. Back when, going inside was a recipe for disaster. Not only might a 'slugger' (who with new bats might only hit 7 homers or so) take you deep to the opposite field, a ping hitter would be more likely to get a looping single on a great inside pitch when using bats that add distance to everything.
So, as well as the natural ebb-and-flow of trends, pitchers are now more skilled at possessing the inner-half of the zone. Since pitching is now encouraged, change-ups are now used more often. Pitchers that have actually 'pitched' for two years represent better to pro scouts than guys who only 'rared back and fired'.
The College Baseball Regionals start Friday. Sixteen sites with four teams in double-elimination play. It's a good thing the Cubs get the weekend off. What? They play this weekend? I guess you'll have to follow them for me. I have too many do-or-die games to tend to.
Hopefully, at next week's MLB Draft Tom Ricketts is there, saying "Draft the best player available" like last year. I don't want Al and the rest to be subjected to too many more rosters like this.