News From Terre Haute, Indiana

June 17, 2009

Amey Takes Aim: What exactly does it mean to be picked in MLB draft?

It’s come to my attention in the past few days that some people have a misconception about what it means to be drafted by a major league baseball team.

I can boil that controversy down into one quick fact: where you are drafted has a lot more to do with your measurables than how good a player you are.

Sometimes the two coincide. Steven Strasburg of San Diego State, for example, had a spectacular junior season, but his fastball has also been clocked at something like 102 miles per hour. If you have a good year and can throw 102, you will make obscene amounts of money. If you have a mediocre year and throw 102, you’ll still make plenty.

But if you have a great year and throw 89, you’ll be begging for some team to give you a chance.

Is that fair? Yes and no. Having a great year is a wonderful thing, but the people scouting might not know how good the people were that you had that great year against. They are reluctant to risk their livelihood on somebody who could get lit up at a higher level of competition. But they’ll always take a chance on 102 mph -- Google the name “Steve Dalkowski” -- because they can measure that.

Which brings us to Brady Shoemaker.

Lindsay Meggs called him “the steal of the draft” last week; mentioned that he squares the ball up (hits it right on the nose, in other words) as well as anybody in the country. And people got mad at him for that.

One more time, here’s how it worked last week, using the four former Wayne Newton players as examples.

Josh Phegley and Jeremy Lucas are athletic catchers who can throw and hit with power. Those guys are gold.

Brady and Nick Ciolli are outfielders, which is a different skill set. Speed and arm strength are huge factors for outfielders, which is why Nick went in the 10th round and Brady in the 19th. The fact that Brady went that high is a tribute to the guy scouting the midwest for the White Sox, because he had obviously watched Brady play. He knew — like you know and I know — that Brady is way, way better than his measurables. He was willing to take a chance on an average runner with an average arm, because he knows that every so often Brady will square one up and no ballpark can hold it.

This is not anything to get angry about. This is a celebration. And when those three guys get to U.S. Cellular Field, you can look for John Benton and I on the Dan Ryan (or whatever that freeway is called these days).

Now for some other stuff.

-- Speaking of squaring the ball up -- One of the city’s baseball legends passed away last week.

I never got to see Tim Booker play, but the guys I know who did told me all about it, and I’m certain they were telling the truth. He could mash. Best power hitter in Terre Haute history? Certainly very prominent in the argument.

-- Next high school draftee? Here’s a couple of measurables about Terre Haute South sophomore left-hander A.J. Reed: big kid, just turned 16 years old, already clocked at 88.

Here’s what the scouts are salivating over the past few weeks: of the 16 strikeouts he had against Mooresville in the sectional, 15 of them were swinging third strikes. Translation: that 88-mph stuff isn’t coming in straight.

And he broke an aluminum bat with one of his pitches -- unfortunately for the Braves, his last one of that game -- in the regional. Translation: when he faces batters carrying wood, he’ll be even nastier.

I believe the term for that kind of potential could be boiled down to OMG.

-- Trib stars — Indiana State softball recruit Kimberly Pierce of South Elgin, an outfielder who batted .553 with 15 doubles, seven homers, 43 RBIs and 46 runs scored this spring, is a first-team Illinois all-state selection by the Chicago Tribune.

I saw just one familiar name on the Tribune’s all-state baseball list, but it was basketball familiarity. Matt Frahm of Stanford Olympia, whose team played Marshall in a classic super-sectional game a few months ago, earned special mention as a pitcher.

-- Speaking of softball … The only high school player I’ve ever suggested to Brenda Coldren that she recruit was Whiting’s Mel Dumezich, after watching her at the Class A state finals three years ago.

The Sycamores didn’t get her, but my scouting cred remains intact. Dumezich — who, at about 6-foot-1 with speed and a great arm, has measurables aplenty -- was recently named Gatorade’s Indiana Player of the Year. She’s headed for Texas A&M.;

-- No measurables at all … is why college volleyball teams didn’t beat down the doors of the Telezyn family recruiting their 5-0 daughter Amy.

But -- have we learned this yet today, people? -- measurables have little to do with how good a player you are. Amy is walking on at the University of Indianapolis, and the Greyhounds’ libero position may never be the same.

-- A number is a measurable, right? Congratulations to Wabash Valley Officials Association umpire Joe Reed, who worked his fourth -- or, to be honest, fifth -- state finals last weekend. He had the Class A semifinals, then the Class 4A championship game.

Andy Amey can be reached after 4 p.m. for comments or news items at (812) 231-4277 or 1-800-783-8742; by e-mail at; by mail at P.O. Box 149, Terre Haute, IN, 47808; or by fax at (812) 231-4321.