Notes from Day 2 of the MLB draft

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The third and final day of the draft is taking place right now, but a couple of yesterday’s mid-round picks caught me eye …

* Remember the University of Texas pitcher who threw 169 pitches during a 13-inning relief outing in an NCAA tournament game last month? Austin Wood was drafted in the fifth round by Detroit. When told that the Tigers picked Wood, manager Jim Leyland said: “He won’t be able to pitch until August.” He didn’t specify which year.

* Remember the Florida high schooler who threw four consecutive no-hitters? Patrick Schuster was taken by the Diamondbacks in the 13th round, which Conor Glassey of Baseball America notes
“is lower than Schuster was expected to go based on talent.” Schuster
has a scholarship waiting for him at the University of Florida, so he
may choose college rather than mid-round money.

* One other draft note from yesterday: Drew Storen’s incredibly fast deal with the Nationals includes a $1.6 million signing bonus, which is about 25 percent below what the past three No. 10 overall picks have received. General manager Mike Rizzo said
that Storen will begin his pro career at Single-A, which suggests that
the Nationals aren’t planning to push him to the majors this year.

The Indians are unveiling a Frank Robinson statue on Sunday

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The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.

Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.

Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.

Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.

Hey kids: don’t swing a weighted bat in the on deck circle

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Here’s an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal. It’s about some studies of hitters who use weighted bats or doughnuts on their bats in the on deck circle. Turns out that, contrary to conventional wisdom, using a weighted bat for practice hacks does not speed up one’s swing when one uses a naked bat in the batter’s box. In fact, it slows it down.

There are lots of caveats here. The sample size in the studies are small and they all involve college and high school players, not big leaguers. The results, however, are consistent with previous studies and they do make some intuitive sense. This is particularly the case with batting doughnuts, which add weight to a very concentrated portion of the bat, thereby changing the center of gravity and thus the swing mechanics of the hitter.

Whether this is applicable at large or to higher level hitters or not, I still find it kind of neat. I always like it when people scrutinize ingrained habits and ask whether or not that thing we’ve always done is, in fact, worth doing.