Alright, always might qualify as a bit of hyperbole (you can’t make it in this world without shock value, you know?), but it’s not as big of a stretch as it sounds. A quick scan of college catching prospects over the past few gradable drafts (gradable meaning we are far enough away to begin accessing what worked and what didn’t, thus eliminating the past four drafts, for now) show college catchers to be an awful investment for big league clubs to make.
The impetus for doing the research, such as it is, was pretty simple. Going through the upcoming draft’s available talent, position by position, revealed what I thought was a simple truth – boy, do these college catchers stink. However, since that initial reaction, I’ve come to a) appreciate some of the potentially undervalued mid-round players, and b) learn to accept the reality that college catchers are largely an underwhelming lot. With a little historical perspective, this year’s class doesn’t look so bad, all things considered.
The research below follows a fairly simple methodology. I took five draft classes – recent enough to be relevant, but with enough time past to give the players a chance to develop – and simply assessed the success/failure of every college catcher drafted. I began by looking at the first ten catchers taken in each draft class. The number ten was chosen for two reasons – 1) it’s a nice round number and people just love round numbers, and 2) I had originally decided to make my 2009 college catching prospect list a top ten (I’ve since expanded it, but more on that later…). From there, I pulled out the college catchers from the previously selected draft classes and did a very scientific, high tech analysis of each player. My highly sophisticated method of measuring success/failure was based on a complicated, hard to comprehend question; for each catcher, I asked myself the following: is this player a “useful” major leaguer or not?
There are flaws in the research, something I recognize and feel obligated to point out. Five years is hardly a representative sample, the absence of the success/failure rate of other positions is a real drawback (I’d love to compare and contrast these findings with, say, the success rate of college middle infielders or something), and the vague terminology (“useful”) is open to interpretation…all of these are definite flaws that should be taken into consideration going forward. However, sometimes the data paints such a clear picture that it’s difficult to envision being able to draw any other conclusion.
After the jump, the damning evidence that college catching prospects don’t want you to see…
Strasburg’s latest start against TCU went pretty well:
- 8 IP 3 H 2 ER 1 BB 14 K (5 GO/5 AO)
- Carpenter, Curry, and Vern went a combined 0-8 (BB, 4 K) against him
Not to pat myself on the back too hard, but I think it’s fair to say the predictions from yesterday held up pretty well, no?
- Strasburg’s final line prediction: 7 IP 4 H 1 ER 1 BB 14 K
- Carpenter, Curry, and Vern: 2-8, 2B, BB, 5 K
Off the grid for the weekend ahead, but expect an in-depth look at the nation’s finest catching prospects starting Monday…
Stephen Strasburg takes the hill tonight against nationally ranked TCU. Here’s what he’s up against:
- Matt Curry (’09) – relatively slow start shouldn’t obscure the fact that the junior college transfer has a big lefty bat that will play; compared to current Phillie Matt Stairs (aka Jon Broxton kryptonite)
- Matt Carpenter (’09) – better college player than prospect, but can’t argue with his production so far (.371/.525/.600 with a 23/11 walk to strikeout ratio); if he can stick at third in the long-term, could get a look as a mid-round senior sign
- Matt Vern (’09) – another player who profiles better as a very good college bat rather than a legit pro prospect, but still capable of hitting the ball a long way when he gets a piece (team leading 6 HRs); Vern’s defensive limitations could keep him from being drafted altogether, but he’s no less of a threat to take Strasburg deep because of it
TCU has a senior-heavy lineup, but no singular hitter that can realistically be expected to do much damage against San Diego State’s ace. My totally baseless prediction for Strasburg’s final line:
7 IP 4 H 1 ER 1 BB 14 K
In addition, I’ll predict a cumulative 2-8 night (including a double, a walk, and five strikeouts) for the three players named Matt listed above.
I’m most curious to see how Curry does against Strasburg. One game is too small a sample to base anything important on, but, as a lefty bat with a powerful, all-or-nothing style swing, he actually matches up pretty well. Curry’s future as a pro could be as a pinch-hitter capable of hitting the ball out every time up, so his at bats against Strasburg correlate pretty well with the kinds of matchups he may see coming off the bench to face fireballing relief aces.
Anyway, any other guesses about how Strasburg will perform on Friday night?
So much pitching to recap, so little time…
- Relievers, relievers, and more relievers
Jake Morgan, redshirt sophomore from the University of Mississippi, gets a special mention for his complete wipeout of Alabama: (2 IP 1 H 0 ER 0 BB 6 K)
Long, lanky Matt Miller (6-6, 215) of Michigan’s great outing (3 IP 1 H 0 ER 1 BB 5 K) pushed his K/IP total to 16/12.2 on the season. It’ll interesting to see if he is in the mix for a starting spot for the Wolverines next spring.
Preston Claiborne has been a consistent strikeout per inning got out of the bullpen at Tulane since arriving on campus. His latest outing is a continuation of his success: 2.2 IP 1 H 0 ER 0 BB 4 K
Steve Kalush is a less well known name than Claiborne, but has had similar success as a collegiate pitcher. The Santa Clara is another strikeout per inning guy. His weekend outing: 2 IP 1 H 0 ER 0 BB 4 K
I love the adjective “hulking” when it describes a pitcher. Luke Demko is 6-6 and pushing three bills, but as nondescript college relievers go, he’s a good one. Demko could be a nice late round senior sign flier of a pick. His weekend: 2 IP 0 H 0 ER 1 BB 3 K (7th save)
Taylor Hill, a Vanderbilt sophomore talented enough to start for a lot of teams but forced to relieve for the pitching-rich Commodores, put up the following line: 4 IP 4 H 1 ER 1 BB 6 K. I’m thinking Vandy would be a good candidate for the next college profile piece…they are completely stacked with prospects, both hitting and pitching.
- Non-prospect performance of the week
Alex Rivers, teammate of Kalush’s at Santa Clara, put up this beauty of a line against Dartmouth: 7 IP 2 H 0 ER 0 BB 11 K. Yeah, it was against Dartmouth, and, yeah, Rivers is a short righty without much of a pro future, but this strong outing is worthy of praise. Here’s to you, Alex Rivers!
- Starting pitching prospects, now and in the future
Chris Rusin (Kentucky, 2009) – 9 IP 7 H 2 ER 2 BB 11 K against Vanderbilt. What I like best about Rusin is the steady increase in performance each year he has been in school.
Matt Harvey (North Carolina, 2010): 2 IP 7 H 7 ER 2 BB 1 K
Kyle Winkler (Texas Christian, 2011): 0.1 IP 5 H 6 ER 3 BB 0 K
Two really rough outings for two really good young pitchers. Winkler is a huge personal favorite – consider my love for him as a prospect partially due to my reverse short righthanded pitching bias.
Justin Grimm (Georgia, 2010): 5.2 IP 3 H 1 ER 3 BB 9 K
Gerrit Cole (UCLA, 2011): 5 IP 6 H 2 ER 1 BB 6 K, 101 pitches
Grimm is well known in scouting circles, but I consider him a 2010 sleeper anyway because even though he’s expected to go high in his draft year, I think he’ll go even higher – love his 30/7 K/BB ratio in just 25.1 innings. The odds-on favorite to go number two overall in 2011 keeps on doing his thing for the Bruins…
DJ Mauldin (Cal Poly, 2009): 8 IP 6 H 0 ER 0 BB 6 K, 12/4/1 (GO/AO/LO)…another short righty with a big game.
- Strong outings, but heavy workloads…
Tyler Blandford (Oklahoma State, 2009): 8 IP 3 H 2 ER 3 BB 11 K, 117 pitches
Chad Bettis (Texas Tech, 2010): 8 IP 8 H 3 ER 3 BB 8 K (11/5 groundball to flyball ratio), 129 pitches
A quartet of fine starts from high-end draft-eligible righthanded pitching prospects (including three future pro relievers who took the ball as starters for their college teams), a host of current relievers and non-star starting pitchers put forth solid efforts (gotta show the little guys some love every now and again), a mixed bag of performances out of highly ranked 2010’s and 2011’s, and a huge baseball star (not to mention my personal favorite player of all-time) hits in the leadoff spot for Seton Hall…wait, what? Read on, my amateur baseball loving friends, read on…
Also, a slew of new content (lists, rankings, an updated mock, and even a creative idea or two…a first for this site!) is on the way…stay tuned!
At what point do we just give up and rename the site The Strasburg Draft Report?
His latest start: 7 IP 2 H 0 ER 2 BB 15 K
Season numbers: 34.1 IP 21 H 6 ER 7 BB 74 K (3 WP, 1 HBP, 5 extra-base hits allowed)
His K/9 actually fell from 19.43 to 19.40…
His K/BB also dipped from 11.80 to 1 to a pedestrian 10.57 to 1…
Of his 74 total strikeouts, 54 have been swinging and 20 have been looking…
Batters so rarely get a ball off of him in play, so his ground out/air out/line out data is based on too small a sample to really draw any conclusion. Even so, his GO/AO/LO numbers break down as follows: 13/11/2…
There have been only two innings this year that Strasburg hasn’t struck out at least one batter, including the two partial innings he has thrown through five starts (each partial inning was two-thirds of an inning). He has struck out at least three batters in 14 out of his 33 completed innings.
So good, in fact, it’ll cost you. An arm, a leg, another arm, half your torso, and, yes, maybe even a part of your unmentionables. Signing this guy won’t be cheap (or so goes the rumor).
I’ve got my own take on the latest “Strasburg’s bonus demands likely to include signing over a small island to him just to show you are negotiating in good faith” story, but the current plan is to hold off on these kind of shenanigans unless explicitly asked. Instead, I’ll open things up to the loyal readers of this site (fine, even the disloyal ones, too) – what do you think of the latest report stating Strasburg’s asking price could shatter the previous draft bonus record? Believe it, don’t believe it, don’t care about it, think he’ll get whatever he wants, think he’ll settle for substantially less, will he make more than Mark Prior, more than Daisuke Matsuzaka? Will Strasburg end up a National when it’s all said and done? Any validity to the wonderful threat to go play in Japan for a year?
In other words, fill in the blanks: Stephen Strasburg will be picked number ____ overall by the _________ and sign for ____ years and _____ million dollars.