What Has Happened to the MLB Draft?

With High School playoffs coming to a close, and the College World Series at its climax, one has to wonder what happened to the true amatuer baseball superstars. The 2005 Major League Baseball first year player draft was indeed a disappointment. You don’t have to look any farther than Major League Baseball’s official website to see that there is a rapid decline in talent in the amatuer ranks. Right there on www.mlb.com, they have downloadable videos of most of the top talent in this year’s draft, starting with the first overall pick Justin Upton. Referred to by scout’s as a future “five-tool” player, he resembles nothing more than an average high school shortstop when you watch his video. As he flubs multiple ground balls, one can only wonder “Why are they showing this?” When Alex Rodriguez was the first overall pick in the 1993 draft, you knew he was something special, when Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens were drafted, you knew the same thing. With the quality of player in today’s draft, its hard to imagine seeing any of the Justin Upton’s, or Matt Bush’s doing anything significant in baseball. Who is Matt Bush you ask? He was the first overall pick in the 2004 draft whose only contribution to the team who selected him, the San Diego Padres, was to get arrested for assault, and have a friend steal from a luxury suite during a party thrown for Matt by the Padres.

When taking a look at the pitchers, the old addage was if you threw 90 you better be left handed, if you threw 95 you were going to be rich. The first five rounds of the drafts used to be chocked full of high schoolers and collegians throwing 95, 96, 97, and left handers throwing 90,91,92. Those times have changed. Searching hard, I found two left handers in the first round that, based on their videos, could consistently throw over 90. It took me until the third round to find a right hander that could throw over 93 and that was Will Inman a high school senior from Danville, Va. Alot of the scouting reports on some pitchers said things like “Similar to Roger Clemens” but there wasn’t one pitcher in the draft, Inman included, who came close to resembling a young Roger Clemens. These pitchers looked like your above average high school or college pitcher, with nothing more to offer than the vanilla flavorings that we are beginning to get accustomed to with the majority of big league pitching.

As a baseball fan, it is tough to think that the era of a true baseball superstar is coming to an end, but if the next few years drafts don’t produce something more than what we’ve seen in the previous few, the baseball superstar will be a very endangered species.

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