This draft cycle, I’m adjusting my coverage a bit. I’m planning to focus more on specific games, and individual players from those games. As convenient, I’ll tack on vignettes at the end that may shift your personal draft board, whether you have one or not. Each article will be intended to get the draft to be less mysterious.
Recently, I watched a college basketball game from “the past.” A number of the players in the game played in the NBA, though none had particularly memorable NBA careers. I’ve watched the game before. I might watch it again. It was played at a pace I enjoy, and had a few memorable moments tossed in.
One of the players was a forward in the game. Even at the time, there was no realistic way he’d ever get any NBA interest. He wasn’t drafted in the NBA, though I seem to remember him getting some CBA interest. He was a very good player on a very good team. However, as a 6-7 forward, he had no shot. He might have gotten a courtesy look in a training camp, but his odds were nil. This could be any of hundreds of games through the years, which is the point.
Part of what I like about college baseball is that players in college have a chance to strut their stuff as professionals. They might not be six-foot-three. They might not have 60 speed on the 20/80 scale. However, if they’re better than the dudes they’re playing against, they might get to play in pro games with box scores.
In college football, the leeway is rather limited. If you’re starting in a major conference and earning All-League honors, maybe. Special-teams types could get a camp invite. However, with only 32 teams, and only 80 spots on a camp roster per team, the opportunities dwindle rather quickly. Especially since teams tend to bring back players from the prior season, and add some from the Canadian League, as well. (Basketball is worse.)
When I’m watching a college baseball game with two middling-or-better teams, some of them may be professionals soon. Even if not in the affiliated ranks, as some will try the Independent League route. No, I’m not expecting you to commit names to your memory. However, as I’m checking out a game, I’m planning to do my homework to make most efforts easy reads. Once on a squad, the player’s ability, or lack thereof, to advance, settles the score.
One of the things I’m trying to do for each game is have three players I’m focusing on as the game progresses. At least one hitter, pitcher, and from each team. Before the game starts, I’ll have my initial paragraph ready, explaining who and why. From there, I’ll assess the ups and downs, and who I’d consider where, both from a Cubs and general perspective.
If you aren’t about a look at a college baseball game and its talent as entertaining reading, I’ll forgive you if you don’t read. Regardless how chill you are about the selection process, all it takes it the Cubs to announce a college or high school player’s name early before the blogs get all woke about him.
I’m hoping to get a read on as many of the likelies for the Cubs in Round One, as possible. I missed on Nico Hoerner last time. I’ll try to do better this time. I should be able to prioritize multiple Friday games, and one on Saturday or Sunday. Presumably, I’ll shift back to the minor league side (mostly) come April 4.
Make no mistake, though. I won’t be able to see five years into the future to tell with confidence which pitcher will stay healthy, or develop a third MLB-quality pitch. I should be able to relay which options seem intriguing to me from a six-to-eight year time frame, including time in the pipeline. Those discussions, to me, are fascinating. Getting early choices right, and pairing them with some depth choices later, make future decisions easier.
This Saturday, some of the non-D-1 schools begin play. Such to the extent I can round up streams, I’ll go with my version of pre-season efforts. Scouts will be strewn across these games, scouring for second- and third-day talent, mostly. The draft goes 40 rounds. The teams will use all of them.
The off-season has been fortunately rather quiet. The biggest injury so far has been to Texas Longhorns shortstop David Hamilton is done for the season, already, with a ruptured Achilles. Fortunately, that’s the only major setback so far, but the games haven’t started yet. I expect bumps and bruises, soon. Look for them below the bump.
My lean for Opening Day Friday will be a morning game between the Illini (second baseman Michael Massey) and Georgetown, who has a mildly-interesting lefty starter in Brent Killiam. North Florida hosts Missouri in the early afternoon, as I begin my Kameronn Misner-watch. A mashing right-fielder for the Tigers, he’s the main draw, there. The late-night game figures to be St. John’s against UCLA (Michael Toglia). I’ll float between a few games as time permits. If you ever want to get directed to a fun/close college game on a particular night, let me know in advance or as time is available. College leads to minor league ball as winter turns to spring.
This weekend? Corban College visits William Jessup for a practice run for me. Toward the start of that review, I’ll answer why a double-header between Jessup and Corban is worth a weekend article.