So much more attention is paid to the Major League Baseball Draft than in the past. Part has to do with better coverage, another factor is so much more information is available in the digital age.
There is excitement each June. Several are ticketed as “can’t miss” prospects. Do most come close to making it? A team can draft a Brandon Weeden, now a quarterback with the Dallas Cowboys, as easy as a Bryce Harper. And this is no knock on the many friends we have who are scouts, but just what a crapshoot the baseball draft is.
Can you guess what percentage of draftees make it to the majors? It is 17 percent, meaning many fall short in their quest to be part of “The Show.”
“A big slugger might pass the eye test, even hit the curve ball, in high school or even college,” said a scout from a National League team. “Then he gets into the minors, maybe even as a high draft pick, and video shows he has a hole in his swing, or he’s not working his hands correctly.
“He may have been able to get away with it in high school or possibly college, especially with an aluminum bat. But once he gets into pro ball, he faces challenges. Some overcome it. Some don’t.”
The same is true with pitchers. Many overpower opponents in their youth with a fastball and nothing else. To get past Double-A, a pitcher better have that and two more pitches. And of that 98 mph fastball is straight, forget it.
Players like Clint Hurdle, now the very successful manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates, miss even though they are predicted by all to hit it big. Others, such as infielder David Eckstein, had to walk on to play college ball.
And even less of a percentage play with the team that signed them. Trades are the reason here. For instance, the Yankees developed outfielder Austin Jackson, but he went to Detroit in the Curtis Grandson trade several years ago and has forged a career elsewhere.
Others, such as first baseman Kyle Roller, who has the power and batting-eye-for-average to certainly play in the majors, found himself released earlier today because the Yankees, with Greg Bird having established himself as the heir to Mark Teixeira, will have to try to make it with another organization.
The same is true with international signings. Robert Clemente was originally inked by the Dodgers, but was lost to the Pirates, with whom he forged a Hall of Fame career, after being left unprotected in what was a Rookie Draft MLB had back in 1957,
In the Yankees system, it’s obvious infielder Jorge Mateo is a special player. It’s obvious Aaron Judge has special power, which still needs to be fine-tuned, On the other hand, will solid, little-power outfielder Ben Gamel ever play with the Yankees regularly?
The MLB Draft does not guarantee a future star. In all, 83 percent don’t make it.
This corner enjoys seeing prospects grow and telling their stories. At the Double-A level, all have part of their games at major-league level. Will most make it? The numbers say no.