Time & Chance in Prospect Development
ya pays yer nickel and ya takes yer chances


Baseball America has an excellent discussion page up.  An excerpt:


Brandon F (Poulsbo, WA): Ackley, Zunino, Peterson ... I think it's fair to say these guys were drafted where they were expected to go. It's not like the M's reached on them. So I'm wondering is this just a run of bad luck or can a team's deficiencies in player development really have that dramatic of a negative impact?

John Manuel: Great question. I think it’s a different answer on all three. With Ackley, I was incredibly high on him out of college. I always thought he just should go out as an outfielder or first baseman, even without profile power. I’ve read a lot of opinions on Ackley over the years ; I hope the shift away from Safeco gives us a better read on his bat. Yankee Stadium certainly should play to his favor if he can carve out playing time. Zunino was rushed to the majors; catching is hard and I think Seattle made things harder on him by putting so much on his shoulders. But he also struggled with breaking balls in college and wasn’t a dominant hitter. I thought he’d be a .250-.260 hitter with 15-20 homers and tremendous intangibles, but his inability to control the strike zone has kept him from reaching that ceiling. Peterson … he’s just not as strong as he was earlier in his career, and he was a strength-based hitter, not a guy with tremendous whip or bat speed. If you have a strength-based approach and then lose strength, you’re in trouble. We have some reports of work ethic issues as well that have to be disappointing to the organization and his old college coach Ray Birmingham at New Mexico.


In other words, Mr. Manuel (through no fault of his own) has no idea what would be wrong with the draft picks, or why they didn't pan out.  He cheerfully admits that he too would have drafted Ackley and Zunino and run with them.

You can say "the M's should have helped them develop better," but ... if we were wrong, how would we know?

The whole Player Development thing reminds me of the debates of yesteryear.  Steve Carlton would go 27-10, 1.97 one year but 13-20, 3.90 the next.  Johnny Bench would hit .293 with 148 RBI one year but .238 with 61 RBI the next (actual stats, and in the same number of games).  WHAT DOES THIS GUY NEED TO FIX THIS WINTER?  People would tear their hair out wondering what should be done.  

It's the future, and we now know that nothing could have been done.  Ironically, they had to try.  And tragically, they had absolutely no way to know it wasn't their fault.  

Well, you say, ERA and AVG turned out to be luck-driven.  But!  The same is true in the amateur draft.  The #4 overall draft slot returns an X% chance of an ML star, I think about 25%, whoever is drafting there.  If some club bats 2-for-2 in a decade at that slot, we've still got noise.  They're as likely as anybody to go 0-for-2 next decade at that slot.


It's not ALL luck.  :- )  I tried real estate, and don't believe for a second that Donald Trump is richer than me purely because he caught that one break that one time.  But how differently our lives might have turned out if that one elevator door had closed a moment sooner that day.


For all his confident veneer, Jerry DiPoto has got to be a bit white-knuckle going into his "rookie" year as a GM-in-total-command.  If I were him, I'd be blowing hardest on the dice before I threw them on James Paxton, Taijuan Walker, Leonys Martin and Steve Cishek.  You get smooth performance from 3 of those 4 guys, you're going to look like a tree full of owls.


"Time and chance happeneth to every man."  It is part of our lot in life that we live under the domination of dice rolls.  Jack Zduriencik benefitted hugely from the dice landing 7's on Rickie Weeks, Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder.  He reaped massive rewards from it, became rich and famous because Weeks, Braun and Fielder turned out to be stars.  He detrimented hugely from the dice landing 2's on Justin Smoak, Dustin Ackley and Jesus Montero.  The NFL may be a little different, but the luck factor in baseball is proven.

Your life and mine are no different.  :- )  This is the travail, that we have been given to deal with.


Dr D



Or however Arte Johnson said it on Laugh-In!

But the compelling stuff is the conjecture (merely that, I know) about Peterson and his current crash/burn.

Here's to hoping the Dipoto/Servais mental game primer has some impact on him, if the conjecture is correct.

I'm not qute sure I understand the intended point about strength and bat speed, help me out.  So Deej was a strong college guy without strong-guy bat speed?   That's the point, right?  If that is the case, then was he drafted with the idea that speed would come (and the homers) or that he was a contact/doubles/keep bat in the zone type of guy?   Strength, in and of itself, isn't too valuable if you don't get something baseball tangeable from it, like bat speed.  If that wasn't the case, baseball would stock up on Charles Atlases. 

Wheaties (or whatever) made McGwire and Bonds strong and that translated  to speed.

But McGwire swinging a bat at 3/4 speed basically becomes a large Marte, in terms of how far they hit the ball.  Basically, mind you.  Mass, launch angle, etc have some interplay here.

And in that single answer, we come back to bat speed vs. quick AND motivation/deisre.

You couldn't have scripted it any better, Doc.


Though it is vague, I took it as that Deej was strong already so bat speed was not too much of a factor in deciding to take him, especially since he had an acceptable to good contact rate.

However, I wonder... since we know a ball flies farther in the desert and at elevation, I wonder how much bat speed / ball exit velocity varies in these locations as well... and since Deej was basically in the desert...???


In doing my research on the Mariner minor leaguers last year, when I was looking for Studs on the Farm, I ran across a few comments about a few players where the work ethic was questioned... and I wonder now how much of that was going on? Did some coaches just allow some players to slack, figuring it's their shot that they are wasting... or was that just a perception of outside scouts watching the Mariner minor league guys based on players having some down time when on the field?   

OBF's picture

and grinding, and scowling in disgust with himself and figure...  "Huh, must not be doing enough pushups"...  A Scout going to the easy "Must be Work Ethic" well, says more about that scouts work ethic most of the time, I bet...


Maybe what we're dealing with are four categories of players?:

(1) Those few who are so EXTREMELY talented that they make it to the show despite their habits/attitudes (Josh Hamilton?)

(2) Those who are very talented but waste years figuring out they have to change their habits/attitudes  (Jesus Montero?)

(3) Those with little talent but whose habits/attitudes are so strong that they fight their way to the show  (Willie Bloomquist?)

(4) The VAST majoirty of players doomed by limited talent or injury

I don't know how much of the habit/attitude stuff can be corrected by managers and coaches.  Personally, I don't have a lot of experience seeing 18-23 year old kids deciding they should lead their lives the way some old guy tells them to.  :)


that the combination of front office guys perspective (Dipoto, McKay, etc.) plus the collection of coaches which seems pretty strong to me (though all anyone seems to talk about is Edgar) plus your Felix, Cano, Seager, Aoki, Cruz, Benoit, etc. veteran group all giving similar messages that you have to work for it would get through to some at least.   The overall group of potential mentors seems like a long list, if they just listen to the one guy who puts it the way that gets through to them.  Edgar said something along the lines of "you've got to choose who you're going to listen to", I believe he was quoting what he himself said to Zunino.  It seems as if there are plenty of options to listen to and since there's talk of an effort being put forth to make their messages more alike I choose to be optimistic (once again...).

Only time will tell but the approach seems better in those respects than I think I could have implemented.

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