Monday, May 18, 2009

A was for Anderson…

…and now it’s for Addendum.

My Lars Anderson post generated several reader e-mails with opinions and corrections. I’d like to thank all the e-mailers, and remind you that this is more fun if everyone’s involved.

First, I made a careless mistake. Lars is not 22. He won’t turn 22 until September. I was a bit ahead of myself there.

Second, some of the post questioned how an organization can misjudge a prospect to the point that he’s an 18th round pick one year, and a top prospect the next. It’s amazing to me that the scouts are that far off. In Lars’s case, it appears to be more of a money issue than talent. MLB has a slotting system in place for their draft picks. The higher pick you are, the more money you can sign for. Lars was coming out of high school with a college scholarship in his pocket. So, he told teams it would take first round (or supplemental) money to get him to skip school. Not a bad move on his part. Unless he can get the money to be financially set, it makes sense to go to college. It looks like teams were afraid to take him in the middle rounds, for fear of not being able to sign their second round pick. But, for some odd reason, once you get to the much later rounds, the slot system’s effect wears off. So, when the Red Sox drafted Lars with their 22nd pick, they were able to offer him above-slot money. They were able to pay him to pass up college. So, while the Sox, or another team, might have wanted to draft him in the 3rd round, they were afraid to lose him. By waiting, they could try to overpay him. If it didn’t work, all they’d lose is an 18th round pick. That was a fair gamble to take. The “over-slot” method is used by several teams to get better players in the draft. It’s an odd procedure, and yet another reason why MLB needs a better salary structure in place.

So, perhaps, Lars Anderson isn’t the best example of why a player is drafted lower than his skill would suggest. It still happens all the time, but in this case there’s a good answer. Could I suggest that the Red Sox “goofed” by not taking him in the first round? Maybe. But, taking a high schooler in the first round is always pretty risky, and not something Theo likes to do. It looks like a pretty good move all around. Who knows? Maybe every time a draft position looks out of whack, there’s a great explanation such as this one.

I guess that why I was asking the questions.

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