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2019 MLB Draft Prep: College schedules as a scouting mechanism

And, some thoughts about Logan Davidson of the Clemson Tigers.

Logan Davidson (right) after scoring a run for Clemson last June
Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

As my look at college baseball progresses, I’m going to link schedules to the draft rather early. Without a somewhat cohesive meshing, these articles could resemble a smattering of random montage of loosely knit pieces that don't belong in a MLB team blog. An awareness of schedules breeds an understanding of the importance of college baseball in the MLB panorama.

College teams are allowed to schedule 56 games in a season. As with many other collegiate sports, the season is divided into three parts. The pre-conference portion, the conference season, and the postseason. For some, the latter portion is a major component. Others, less so.

Being in a conference with an automatic bid is a big enough asset that few teams want to be independents. Conference games are almost always “on the weekend,” which normally is Friday through Sunday. Conference games lost to weather aren’t normally made up. As such, teams will adjust weekend game times to get them played.

Conference tournament seedings are based on winning percentages. Games not played are disregarded. Not all teams will necessarily make their tournament. The later season conference tilts take on added importance if teams are trying to qualify, or clinch a higher seed.

If the games were taking place in a vacuum, the above would be accurate with little argument. However, since a primary method of evaluation of talent for the June draft is these college games, all thirty organizations need to be cognizant of the schedules and their own player assessments.

The player the team has already entirely graded out can be “dialed back on”. However, the draft goes 40 rounds, and the player with no team exposure by a team is unlikely to get chosen. By them, at least.

While college football and basketball schedules are often nailed down years in advance, the baseball counterparts are less rigid. A few baseball pieces I have almost written are awaiting a schedule link. While conference portions are already figured, midweek portions may still be in flux.

Midweek games serve multiple purposes. In addition to being to chances to win games, they also serve, especially early-on, as low-leverage opportunities to “extend innings” for pitchers. Similarly, a reserve bat can ge some chances against a pitcher in a competitive situation.

While through the season, three weekend games and a midweek starter hunt at four starters being ample. However, if a team loses a game early in a double-elimination format, a team might get eliminated over a shaky fifth starter. This happens regularly in May to rather good teams.

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The second half today goes to the Clemson Tigers. The Atlantic Coast Conference representative would be a solid 2019 follow, especially if you like assessing switch-hitting shortstops.

Logan Davidson is the main attraction in the Tigers lineup. Davidson is a switch-hitter, a top of the order bat, and a scouting enigma. Here’s some video of him switch-hitting home runs against Notre Dame last May:

One of the long-standing biases against the baseball draft is the constant uncertainty. Since some players relatively whiff, and others outperform, it ends up as a proverbial crap shoot. However, by whatever comparison, some teams are far more effective at the process than other teams.

In his two college campaigns, Davidson was slightly better as a sophomore in average and power. As a middle infielder at the college level, he looks like he should be a first round choice. Except for his numbers in Falmouth.

The Falmouth Commodores are a squad in the highly regarded Cape Cod Summer League. Davidson has struggled in both his seasons on the Cape. Does that mean he’ll never be good with a wood bat? Of course not. Will his inability to hit in Massachusetts limit his draft signing bonus? Most definitely.

The cynic will hint it’s impossible to know with a realistic level of confidence. On the other hand, I cherish the mystery. Offensive woes for the ‘Dores or not, Davidson should be selected reasonably early, either way.

As usual, the team or teams that properly assess Davidson will be rewarded Scouting will assess where he should be selected in 30 different draft rooms. His Falmouth slumps might be “who he is” or a fluke from two summers in college. Those would be much more interesting discussions to me, over a long-term, tha which relievers will mystically record outs over a two-month period.

To hint that following Clemson in 2019 is specifically about Davidson is absurd. They will be worth a follow entirely independent of Davidson. However, whoever gets a proper read on Davidson, select or not, catches an edge on the league.

The Tigers start their season, as do other Division I sides, on February 15. They play South Alabama in a very solid multi-region matchup. This series merits a good scout in attendance, and not only because of Logan Davidson.