Monday, May 23, 2005

Bill Conlin Backs Moneyball, Wenonah, NJ Pitcher

I always pegged Bill Conlin to be anti-Moneyball, because Moneyball has a lot of information about how scouts are prone to group-think. I guess I was wrong. Not that Bill Conlin (or myself) are anti-scouting.
JOSH MONEYBALL is still at it. The Rowan University lefthander represents the creative scouting (and money-saving) opportunities Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane advanced in his controversial book on how to break the game's archaic mold shaped by stopwatch, height chart and radar gun.

Forget the "high ceiling" that has become the buzzword for so many organizations. Pay more attention to players who manage to produce and win with the tools they have right now. Draft winners. Holster the guns. Note how a pitcher who doesn't light it up with 95 mph heat still gets hitters out and wins with movement, location and, yes, the most underscouted attribute of all - heart.

Beane has proved low-payroll teams can contend with players who flunk Stopwatch and Radar Gun 101.
Last year, Schwartz went 13-0 for Rowan with a pristine 1.50 ERA. He walked just 21 in 107 2/3 innings with 101 strikeouts. His final victory - and defining
career moment - came in the Division III World Series. He was matched against Wisconsin-Whitewater's 6-5, 235-pound Division III Player of the Year, Brady Endl. Moneyball went nine innings, struck out 10, scattered eight hits. Rowan knocked out Endl in the seventh and won, 8-2. The Profs were eliminated before Schwartz' next start, but surely his phone would ring on draft day.

I sat at the computer watching round-by-round. The Braves made Brady Endl the final pick of the 10th round. A day later, more than 1,000 players had been drafted. None was named Josh Schwartz.

Phillies minor league honcho Mike Arbuckle said his area bird dogs and scout had seen Schwartz pitch, but he was "short" of the organization's standards for a lefthanded college pitcher.

Quite apparently, baseball's other 29 scouting staffs made the same determination.

In the crapshoot, which is the MLB draft, he seems worth a 10th round pick.

Forget conventional wisdom. Schwartz is one of the best college pitchers in the country.

But MLB teams won't take a chance on him before round 5 of the draft.
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