By The Baseball Beginnings Guy
October 23, 2010
You can tell when your readership is growing when reader emails and comments pile up and you spend a great deal of time cleaning unsavory spam out of your server. These are all real questions, comments and emailed, sometimes edited for punctuation, clarity and to be more concise. This installment asks questions about guys like Buster Posey, Austin Wilson, Christian Lopes and many, many more. To the Bag Cave:
Dear BB: I’d like to know how many looks you actually had of Nick Ahmed. It couldn’t have been too many. Of course, as a follower of UCONN sports, I saw Ahmed play quite a bit last year.
BB: You have a longer history on Ahmed than I do. In fairness, the Cape is an expensive trip. I show up and gather notes on hundreds of players at once. I got one game at Bourne and I go with what the players give me the day I come in. If he’s got a 5 arm, he didn’t show it in infield. If he can run, it didn’t jump out to me. Is it an accurate representation or is it a sampling error? Is it Live or is it Memorex? You’re a UCONN fan and I’m not. I don’t care if the guy plays for The Little Sisters of The Poor or for LSU. I liked his body and physical projection and if I had seen those tools flashed, I would have said so. If he’s got those tools, more power to him. But on my cards, he was a dud that day. Maybe he’s a stud. The kid will tell us. Any scout who comes into see him on coverage like that is going to make his call on what the player shows him on that given day. As a chapter title of a book I once wrote is called, “Somebody is Always Watching.”
Dear BB: I thought (Vanderbilt’s Jason) Esposito had a higher ceiling than a Casey Blake type?
BB: He reminds me of Blake. Sorry. I was standing in the Dodger Stadium dugout when Blake walked by. First guy that he reminded me of? Esposito, who I stood next to and talked to on the Cape. Saying a guy is a Casey Blake type of pro is not a bad thing, if that’s what you mean.
Dear BB: Nice write-up on Buster Posey. I hope you are right. A lot of scouting reports on Buster have him more in the 15-20 HR range, but it does appear he is going to be much more of a HR threat than that. Why do you think other scouting reports have underestimated his power potential?
BB: I have no idea. If you watch his swing plane, you see a guy with what I’d call early bat speed. That means he has the ability to let a pitch get to him, then start his swing, and drive the ball. Those guys always have power to all fields. Posey’s swing plane is one of those hybrid types. He’s level through the zone but the bat then sweeps into an uppercut. All power hitters have at least a mild uppercut. I have no idea how you’d miss Posey as a power bat.
Dear BB: Based on your observations, were the Giants wise to delay Buster’s “graduation” from the minors to work more on his defense, or as many Giants fans insist, should they have gone with him as the starting catcher from day 1 in 2010?
BB: Buster Posey gets more love than Busta Rhymes. Way back last year, I said Posey wasn’t ready to catch in the big leagues, especially not that staff. I thought he’d hit, but I actually wanted them to leave him alone in Triple-A to catch. I know that some of the mainstream media said it was a mistake. I’d say they have no idea what they are looking at. Buster wasn’t ready to catch in the big leagues when he was in the Arizona Fall League. All of my writing this season focused on the defensive progress because I knew the bat would play. I think the Giants did the right thing.
Dear BB: I attended the same game at Dodger Stadium as you. I went with my daughter. As a Giants fan, that was the best game I have ever seen in person! Buster’s HR was a mammoth shot. He doesn’t appear to be swinging hard, but he must generate tremendous bat head speed as he’s hit other tape-measure bombs too.
BB: You just said it right there, he makes it looks easy. That’s when you know a guy has it.
Dear BB: I agree with the guy to surprise on the Rays. Ryan Brett is a bullet who will put in the time and effort to get there.
BB: We’ll see. He can be a 7 or 8 runner if you get the good time. If he hits, he’ll play, and no one will care how tall he is.
Dear BB: I believe Esposito played mostly 3B for Vandy this year, but Coach Corbin has remarked several times that Esposito has the chops to play college SS. Most reports I’ve read assume Esposito will play 3B as a pro.
BB: I would see him as a pro third baseman, though I saw him at short on the Cape.
Dear BB: “Sale is the anti-Strasburg.” Implying that Strasburg does need to be told who he is and how good he is? Strasburg has been pretty poised in the interviews I’ve seen and read, despite far more attention, so I’m not sure what your implication is.
BB: Chris Sale is a guy with great talent in his own right who doesn’t need the media to tell people what he is all about.
Dear BB: Really liked what I saw of Greg Bird this summer. I thought he was one of the more interesting bats. Bird impressed me with his approach at the plate for a kid who’s so tall. The swing didn’t look excessively long and he’s got the wrists you want to see in a young hitter. Had no idea he was a catcher until this post, so thanks! I assumed he was a 1B/LF type.
BB: I saw him catch at Area Codes and saw enough athletic ability to make me think he can give it a go. I liked the projection and the bat. We’ll see what he becomes.
Dear BB: I’d love to read your impressions on right-handed pitcher Lucas Giolito. People seemed to be impressed with him this summer.
BB: Lucas Giolito might be the best high school arm in the 2012 draft. He’s got a commitment to UCLA. Seriously, I’m not going to go pinning medals of honor on this dude until his draft cycle. Kid throws hard, kid throws a hammer, kid has projection, kid must have asked for No. 34 at AC. Stay tuned, we’ll cover the kid. Think of all the hits from Austin Wilson’s Stanford University dorm room alone.
BB: Like them both. Owens is still a growing lad with a nose-to-toes Charles (Translation: he’s a growing kid with a big curveball). (Just imagine me trying to write that sentence in the newspaper – they’d put me to death). Evans grows on me. I think he’s going to be a second baseman in pro ball. I don’t say this to dismiss the guy, I just think he’ll get moved over by whoever signs him. Evans is a funny guy. I always say, I love him when he slaps line drives and I hate him when he hits fly balls. He runs just enough to be dangerous and his arm at second is better than a lot of high school draft arms at third.
Dear BB: Manny Ramirez, for all his shenanigans, put up some darn good numbers in his career and won a World Series. Maybe we don’t like him, but we’ve got to say he was good. It will be interesting to see how Bryce Harper does in pro ball. That swing is ugly!
BB: You said it, I didn’t.
Dear BB: I couldn’t agree more about the excellent play in college. I was bowled over at the ability on display in the college post-season this year. I saw team after team of guys playing the game the right way; I won’t be surprised when even less-touted players like Tyler Rahmatullah and Mike McGee and Ryan Wright show up on major league rosters.
BB: There will be a few factors that really dictate how strong college baseball becomes. If there is a worldwide draft with mandatory slot bonus numbers, MLB and the Union have no idea how powerful it will make college baseball. The second thing is the more college uses wood or the better composites, the more games they play, the more college ball will turn into what short-season A or Low A used to be. Third, guys like you mentioned there won’t have the same physical tools as some kids out of the Dominican Republic, but they will be better technicians at a younger age and thus sometimes be perceived to have more immediate value.
Dear BB: I find it interesting you did not mention Josh Richmond in the Texas Rangers draft recap. He will be right with Mike Olt. The kid is a future long time major league player and a steal in the 2010 draft.
BB: I’ll have to keep an eye on him. The reason he was not on my list was I never saw him. Baseball Beginnings Policy: If we don’t see him, we don’t make a comment.
Dear BB: I read your Deshorn Lake update. My friend throws almost that hard and has a mean curve and nice changeup but he didn’t go anywhere to play, so why should he be that good?
BB: Uh…ok. That’s a new one. I have no idea what to tell you.
Dear BB: What is the monetary value of a college education? If you take both direct costs and future difference in earning potential, I’d put the over/under at around $1 million. That is, of course, assuming that you eventually graduate with a degree. That means unless a HS player is drafted in the first round, or gets drafted later by a team that is willing to give first round money, or the player is simply not a good enough student to go to college at all, It’s first round or college for most HS players. More and more, that’s the way the draft is shaking out, so I think my estimations are pretty close to reality.
When you factor in that a player can continue his development in college, and if he is good the baseball money will still be there, it’s really a no-brainer. There is enough risk of failure in baseball and being left with nothing that the smart route for most players is college.
BB: Welcome to what an Area Scout does.
Dear BB: Thanks for your overwhelmingly kind words about my son, Austin Hedges. I know you’re just doing your job, but still, our family is very honored. Thank you.
BB: If the kid can hit the kid can hit. I’m pretty well known for expressing my reservations when I think a guy is over-blown. Say…have you been to our photo store?
Dear BB: Kyle Richter got an invite to the Alaska Baseball League after his high school senior year, which is pretty rare except for the handful of local kids the teams carry as bench players. He made five appearances including two starts and posted a 2.92 ERA on the season, which is really great at that level. I didn’t get to see him though, so I’m glad to see you’ve got him covered. On that note, I’ll be sure to throw some links up from my website to your video & report.
BB: I liked Richter. I think he’ll be fine in college and he’ll come out in 2012.
Dear BB: I felt that (pitcher James) Paxton should have signed in time to get some pro innings this summer, but he does have until next year to sign so perhaps both sides decided to wait. It’s not a typical ‘failed signing’ in that he was not subject to the 2010 deadline.
BB: In my book, what is the guy waiting for, but to each his own. I’m not in charge of taking sides.
Dear BB: I live in Redlands which is just down the hill from Yucaipa, so will be rooting for Taijuan Walker to succeed. Maybe we’ll get to see him pitch for High Desert in a year or two.
BB: Loved Taijuan Walker. He was lucky that his slot matched his number so he didn’t have to sit out all summer.
Dear BB: It’s a shame for the Cardinals that Austin Wilson couldn’t be swayed into signing, but can any credit be given for being the team that made an attempt? From the sound of it in a few years the club will regret not making an offer he couldn’t refuse, however we should keep in mind how many organizations completely passed on the opportunity. If he becomes a star will the front office be criticized for being too cheap to make it happen, or heralded as a team that took a low-risk long shot and came up short?
BB: Ah, the Austin Wilson saga. A few things: One, I don’t care what anybody else in baseball says, the people who ran this negotiation on behalf of Wilson did just fine. Here’s why. Nobody knows what the numbers are. That takes some serious skill in this day and age. So much so that if the Cardinals were to have leaked any of that information, it would have been clear it would have been a leak from their front office, and whatever trust had been there would have been shot. Now, if I had a dollar for each of the factors that went into why Wilson went to school, I’d have…well, I’d be able to pay the $8 parking fee at USC a few times over. This was a case of a kid soul-searching with his parents. This had nothing to do with all of the media factors that were associated with it. I can assure you that it wasn’t hasty on the kid’s side and I’m sure the Cardinals rolled the dice and were willing to shell out some money. Take the money out of it. I’m sure there were some quiet moments lifting weights last summer wondering which way to go. In the end, talent will always be the Great Equalizer.
Dear BB: It’s going to be so interesting to follow Austin Wilson’s progress at Stanford. I think he made the right decision. If he’s as good as advertised, the payday will still be there in 3 years. If not, well, then he really made the right decision!
BB: As I said, talent is the Great Equalizer.
Dear BB: You wrote one of the few reports on Christian Lopes I’ve seen in the last month that I agree with. Someone else has Don Slaught dooming his swing, other scouts are dooming him over results in a game or two instead of looking at his process and projectability. I’m as guilty as anyone of the Colon comparison, but mean it in the best way: both are “ball players” who will get the most out of their ability, ability that is consistently underrated.
BB: I saw Colon and I’ve seen Lopes. Defensively, they are very similar. Colon is probably a little smoother defensively at this stage. That’s no dig on Lopes, Colon is about as big league ready a defensive shortstop as you will ever see in amateur baseball. Lopes can stay at short. I think he looks uncomfortable at second.
Offensively, I think Lopes is the better hitter. I don’t really care what people say about his swing. He gets his hands into the launch position all the time and he sprays the field. Colon always got pull happy and you could bury him if you threw him high gas at the letters. I just saw Colon in Arizona and he still hasn’t figured that out. He tries to pull that pitch each time and he either misses it or pops it up. Lopes has some raw BP power, but the guy doesn’t try to turn and burn. All young hitters have moments where they stray from their approach, but Lopes has a serious nature about him. Colon was cocky. I’m not saying one approach is better than the other, to each his own, I wouldn’t want Colon not to be cocky, because that’s part of how he plays. But Lopes is a guy who uses the whole field, who for the most part lets his power come to him. He’s quiet and I see that. He’s serious and I see that. I like him for that. I don’t really care what swing coaches say about a guy. I don’t. No disrespect but I just don’t care. You can hit or you can’t and it doesn’t matter how you hit, it’s how the bat looks when it comes through the zone and the quality of the sound and contact.