This week, baseball’s Draft 50 came out on MLB.com. Between now and the draft next June, the list will be bumped up to 100 names, and eventually 200. Even though you likely have no familiarity with most of the players, and few will be drafted by the Cubs, this can be a useful resource. As writing on the draft is a key component of what I do, I’ll spend more time familiarizing myself with these names than most fans. Today’s is an article on why you should perhaps do a degree of digging through the site, as well.
MLB teams, all 30 of them, will want to have a rather filled-out dossier on all of these players. Not just some 20/80 scores on power and fast ball. Is he a good dude? How well does he treat the women in his life? Does he hustle on a routine grounder to short, down 7-2 in the eighth inning? When he’s supposed to be “hitting behind the runner” in batting practice, is he? How is his class attendance? How are his grades?
Teams want to make as certain as possible that the players they select are the guys they want progressing through their pipeline. Teams want to give chances to players who take seriously their opportunity to perfect their craft, and move through to the upper minors. As my off-season goes on, the importance of “being an athlete 12 months of the year” keeps getting pounded into me. The players that push through are often the ones most committed to it, not the ones with “Five-Star Talent.”
Nonetheless, the list is now available, and I’m writing two articles in one. One is more for the “old guard,” as it were. The second is, as WTTW used to disclaim before Monty Python’s Flying Circus episodes ran, “for younger or more sensitive viewers.”
For the more “old time/regular” readers, you each have your expectation on how the Cubs should get about improving their pipeline. Maybe they need to locate a leadoff man. Potentially, they ought to draft an ace. Perhaps you’re a proponent of up the middle depth, as they’ve been stockpiling. None are out of line.
You now have a list of fifty names. Count them, fifty. All have hometowns, positions, projectability, and strengths. Which aspect of “younger players” moves the needle for you? Maybe you think the Cubs should prioritize a prep arm that looks like he might throw 96, come June. Make him your guy.
Not specifically because he’ll be the Cubs selection, but because you want to learn how these things work. For instance, if Bryson Stott or JJ Bleday have cool sounding names, do some research on them. As you circle around a few players that would intrigue you as Cubs options, or as future professional players, you educate yourself. Which is why we watch videos at three in the morning about otters or Mesopotamia on YouTube. Take 20 minutes, when available, and know something you didn’t before.
However, this article is mainly about the younger set. First off, thanks for reading. In the social media age, we’ve gotten to the point where we read a headline, and assess the content solely off of eight words, or so. At the most generous, people are reading the headline to assess whether it’s fake news, clickbait, or actually worth a read. My goal with my articles is to get you to want to read, so you can take ten minutes or so and learn something. If I’m there, I’m doing my job as a writer.
However, for you as a “younger reader,” you grow up in an interesting time. Whether you’re 25 or 12, your primary career might not exist yet. The world is now about niches and micro-niches. Imagine trying to sell someone who was astute on “the media” in the 1950s that your gig was going to be “running a blog.” “What is a blog?” “Why would anyone print news they’re giving away for free?” “How will you wrestle readers from the big city daily newspapers?” Things change.
As a young person, interested in baseball, ask yourself a question, sometime. What fascinates you about the game? What would you like to know more about? Are you a “keep players more healthy” type? Perhaps you would love to look at spreadsheets all day long. Maybe assessing 20/80 values on players is the scratch to your itch.
Every single MLB franchise is looking to hire talent. As is the league, itself. On-field, and off. If you aren’t a player, but you love baseball, become the person that gets the job you’re going to want to be employed at, anyway. Do you like baseball, and writing? Work for your school paper. Are you more of a physical therapy type? Work for your school’s baseball/football/basketball/soccer team as a trainer. If you’re really serious about baseball as a career, take Spanish, and learn it well.
If you care about baseball as an entity, and not merely in the “I like to watch” or “I like to attend games” method, figure out the parts you really enjoy, and create yourself a resume that would interest a baseball, football, basketball, or hockey team. Learn math. Take Statistics courses. Go to law school. Become who you want to be. Allow the sports industry to work for you.
What’s this all have to do with a Top 50 list? It depends. Probably, a handful of you want to “write like those bloggers,” except “I’d do it right”. I’d ask the better questions. I’d write the articles better. (I was rebellious, also, once. Maybe I still am.) Or, I’d be better at assessing talent than those being paid to do so now.
If you think baseball is in your blood, it might be. Figure out what aspect works for you, and become familiar with any aspect of the game that might help your future employment. Learn about college baseball. Attend a High School showcase game. Attend a college game. Be nice to the people that you meet, and let them do their job. See what they’re actually doing.
Perhaps you love photography. Maybe you’re going to invent the next computer platform for scouting talent, and immediately transferring data to other scouts in a pool. Maybe you’ll be a scout, someday. Perhaps, a part of your future employment will hinge on you making the varsity squad, and getting to a Division 1 or Division 3 school, and playing there. Who knows?
However, if you’re a youngster, and just want your Chicago Cubs to play really well for the next 15 years, getting the first pick in June right will be a step in the right direction. As with college football and basketball, college baseball games are televised and streamed. They’re harder to locate. But, if baseball is the sport you enjoy the most, the sport that makes the hands on your personal clock turn, learn about these guys. They’ll be among the ones people will be talking about in a number of years.
The draft is important for MLB clubs. As new general managers take over, they stress the importance of making good selections. They want wise people on their staff to properly maximize the future of the organization. Accurately assessing the players on this board is the paramount assignment for people in major positions in organizational trees. This isn’t me talking: this is reality.
As a fan, you can entirely disregard a draft. I sure enough can’t stop you, and wouldn’t encroach on you to do something you don’t want to. However, the Tim that wanted to start writing about baseball saw far too few people writing about the draft. I continue to run into “awakening” moments from people when they’re fascinated by the joy that college games can provide. I’m reassured when their enlightenment doesn’t detract from their appreciation of the Cubs. It expands it.
You have 50 names to look at today. It’s your call to ignore the list, as many will, or take a cursory glance to find a funny name or two. Or, you can buy into the importance of the draft, and the cornucopia of information that looking into one or two players might bring you. It could be that one of these players might be playing a game twenty minutes or less from where you are, between now and June. College hot dogs are cheaper than those at Wrigley, and the seats might be better.
The information is available. As with the “Choose Your Adventure” style books, the rest is on you. I’ll be happy to be your guide, but to properly use a guide, you first have to commit to taking the tour. And, yes. It’s likely that Cubs fans will become immediately agog over one of these players come a day in June. I’m fascinated, but not in a good way, when attention goes from “0 to 1 billion” on a player upon their announcement. You have half a year to do research, or neglect it. The Cubs will draft 27th in June.