Thursday, November 17, 2005

Wild Pitch

Today was the opening night for the World Wood Bat Association Championship held in Jupiter, Florida. Mainly just registration and I believe a couple games tonight. My main focus over the weekend, however, will be on the ten or so potential draft picks from my area that will be playing. All high school players. The tournament gives me a great opportunity to meet the parents and get a feel for what they would like little Johnny to do after graduation.

This brings me to one of the more important decisions on whether I recommend a prospect for the draft: signability. Take for example a conversation I had this evening with a father in our hotel lobby. His son is a very talented senior who plays for a high school in Jacksonville, Florida.

"So how's Chet been hitting the ball this fall?" I ask to start the conversation.

"Really good. Finally getting some decent opposite field shots. Becoming less and less of a pull hitter," answered the father, a true salesman with an eye for what he thinks we're looking for.

"Give him time. Nothing wrong with being a pull hitter as long as he continues to get the same results. Most college coaches will tell you the same thing."

"Well, as you know Cutter, he's not looking to play college."

"Doesn't that depend on where he's drafted?"

"Like I said, he's not looking to play college. We've been in contact with at least six other clubs that are interested in him."

"Oh yeah. That's great. Who's my competition?"

"You'll probably see them around this weekend."

I knew he probably wouldn't divulge the different clubs but it never hurts to ask. I then followed up with a question that really cuts to the heart of the matter. "So where do you think he'll go in the draft?"

"At least the fifth round," he answered without hesitation.

This was a total lie. No doubt a negotiating tactic. The kid was closer to the tenth round in my book. The difference in money between the fifth round and the tenth round could be a very low six figure amount. So at least I know how far apart we are.

"And if he goes in like the thirteenth round?" I asked.

"That won't happen."

"But if it did?"

"Won't happen."

"How about the tenth round?"

"We'll cross that bridge at that time."

In other words, I'm not giving you anymore ammunition. He'd probably go the Juco route with anything worse than the tenth round. I quickly make a mental note of our conversation and will make it part of his file when I update his report this weekend.

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