College baseball practice started last Friday, January 24. In other words, Kris Bryant had a long season in 2013.
I've been working on improving an idea I've mentioned before. As it involves drafting and player development, I'll use it here. There will be more later.
When talking about prospects, signed and yet unsigned, floors and ceilings are a go-to topic. The "floor" is what you ought to expect if there is no further improvement in the player. Or relatively little. Or if he gets hurt. Or.... The "ceiling" is if it all comes together.
For an example, I will use Texas prep Tyler Kolek. A 6-5, 250-pound righthander, Kolek has hit 99 miles per hour in a prestigious tournament, and has broken the three-figure barrier on occasion. Kolek has a few secondary choices, but there isn't much need to rely on them when in high school at you can dial up 95 whenever you want. Kolek as an MLB ace isn't that hard to envision. Nor are arm troubles. How to balance the two?
Grab a sheet of paper, and play along. Make a 10-by-10 grid in the standard x-y fashion. At the bottom left portion of the square (or rectangle-ish) figure, if you draw like me, put "0" on both axes. As you go up or to the right, add a number each time. Toward the top, and toward the right, you should see a nine.
To play this to the fullest, you would load a small paint brush with some paint, and gently flick the brush tip toward the diagram, but you needn't go that far. Had you done it (or since you did, if that applies more accurately), you would have little drops of paint all over the 'square'. This would be a splatter pattern.
For this exercise, one of the axes represents "Health," and the other represents "Ability". Whether talking about Kolek,or a college senior sign from the 37th round that came with a $4.37 bonus, there will be a splatter pattern. There will be pretty much immeasurable options for such a baseball career. The one that happens will be, likely, one of those paint drops. Which one? No one can be sure.
For now, presume that the color for a 'good career' (I will let you define that as you wish) will be in green, a middling career is in yellow, and a rather unsuccessful one is in red. Much of a Kolek splatter pattern above 4,4 would probably be green. However, arm maladies or control trouble could equally limit him to yellow or red. The $4.37 guy will be almost entirely red (from a major league perspective, certainly). However, some players will end up as positive outliers.
Far more on this in the next few installments. That said, if you are prioritizing a player for his ability in the far upper-right segment of the figure, but not the rest of the field, you are certainly welcome to do that. However, you are missing most of the options.
Who should the Cubs keep in mind in the college game this year? Baseball America provides a few hints.
Anyone want some Tyler Kolek video? It's Bleacher Report info, but video is included, so there's that.
This one is showing the early trend. Carlos Rodon and Jeff Hoffman come in at the first two slots. From there, it tends to be a case of shading picks between Trea Turner, Alex Jackson, Jacob Gatewood, and Tylers Beede and Kolek. Variation from that brings question to a mock now. Though the draft isn't until June, if a prognosticator is seeing something but that, they are the deviant. Though they may be correct, then.
I'm starting my Draft Prep page off-site. As I'm very data-intrigued, and not so much on tech, it's rather bland. However, I plan to add what I have on who I consider valid at either of the top two spots. It's sort of empty now, but I plan to take note of players ending up in the 40-45 range when I see mocks.
As usual, I'll have very little except scuttlebutt on preps. I will try to get more info on the college players, though. In early-April through early-May, info updates may be sporadic, as minor leagues trump college.
For my poll candidate, I introduce Kansas State second baseman Ross Kivett. He looks like he ought to be able to hit most of the way up the ladder. However, he might well be limited to second base. At what point would you be interested in (putting pitching aside for a round and) calling this guy's name? Probably along the lines of a Dan Uggla. Probably unlikely to hit his heights, but should represent with the stick. Secondary comp, a Jedd Gyorko.
More later on everything, including splatter patterns.