Orlando: There is so much talk in spring training every year about prospects. Every team has them, some more than others. Trough the draft or with trades, teams stockpile as many as they can hoping that a few will become big leaguers and lead them to a championship. If a team gets four or five out of the hundreds that will pass through an organization over five years they will be extremely happy.
When I see young kids working so hard in the heat of the Florida sun, its easy to pick out the ones who have a shot. But to be able to predict five years down the road? Well, that as they say is “A whole other ballgame”.
One of the biggest obstacles for many of these players, is how they deal with failure. They are coming from a life where they were the stars their whole life to a new place where most of them will struggle. competing with the best of the best, who have the same or better skills as they do.
How they handle not batting .400 or not striking out 15 batters is what the front office needs to see? Some will arrive and shine quickly, while others will realize that, they can’t hit a curve ball or can’t get anyone out.
The five year plan gives the coaches in player development time to teach the skills needed to become a big league player. Sadly, many of these players will become what is known as “Organizational Players”. The fact is, every team has highly touted prospects, but not enough to field five to six minor league teams. So they need players who are good, that can field a team where these top prospects can play.
These “organizational’ guys are every bit as important as a top prospect. Everyone has a role to play in the plan to have a winning team at all levels.
Teams like the Braves, Yankees and White Sox, have jumped to the top of the list with prospects. Each has used the draft wisely and made trades with teams looking to win it all now. The Red Sox, Cubs, and Nationals traded away their best prospects for good major leaguers. That’s how you try to get better.
It pains both organizations and fans when a promising young prospect is traded to another team. But as a long time baseball man once told me, “You can only get filet mignon if you give up filet mignon”.
There will always be this rollercoaster of steep climbs to the top and fast falls to the bottom for teams constantly looking for that perfect fit for their ball club. That big league star, who will help them win a world series or the can’t miss prospect who will one day be that star.
These are the things everyone, from front office baseball people to the average fan have hope for very spring.