Thursday, June 6, 2013

Ze Draft

I'm a natural skeptic.

I've tried to tone it back, look on the bright side, or any other cheery cliche you can think of.

Nope, not happening.  Except for one thing.

The draft.

Sure, the failure rate of baseball draft picks is higher than any other sport, and being a first round or 36th round pick does not necessarily indicate any level of success or failure.  But on draft day, every pick (well, Royals fans may disagree) looks good.

The execution isn't always so optimistic.

Draft day 2008. I was excited - the Pirates held the number 2 overall selection, and were bound to get a good player, likely either talented high schooler Justin Beckham or college slugger Pedro Alvarez.

It's no secret that the Pirates haven't had much power in their lineup since Bonds and Bonilla left town, so the idea of grabbing a big time slugger excited me.

Come the second pick, Pedro was off the board to he Bucs.  Things were going great, right?

A hiccup at the signing deadline, some high minor league strike out numbers - all would be forgotten once those towering homers started leaving PNC Park.

Alvarez was one of a handful of players who signed exclusive contracts with Razor (now Leaf) after the draft, meaning his only cards post draft (and until 2011) would be non-Topps brands. 

Razor released a slew of autos both in packs and via exclusive ebay auctions, and the coolest of the cards were the Razor Metal cards.  I had to have them. 

..until I saw where the prices were going.  Blue autos /50 were ending around $30, with Gold autos /25 going above that.  Not gonna happen.
As Alvarez slugged homers in the minors, the cards continued to stay out of my price range.  As Alvarez's career tanked in Pittsburgh, swinging at offspeed pitch in the dirt after foot off the plate slider, the prospecting hoard continued to bet on his power.

I was finally able to snag the Blue auto above for about $10 at the beginning of last season, right before he went on a tear of homers and finally started looking like the player we (thought) we were drafting.

And this year?  Back to earth.  And strikeouts.  Lots of strikeouts. 

The MLB draft is far from a sure thing.  And it seems like more often than not prices will come back to earth, even for the few prospects who succeed.  But it sure is nice to dream on what a player could become.

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