The first overall pick is from Puerto Rico, but it’s not something Bud Selig should be crowing about

17 Comments

The first overall pick in the draft was Carlos Correa, from Puerto Rico.  This made Bud Selig happy (scroll to second item):

Commissioner Bud Selig was thrilled to see Houston select 17-year-old shortstop Carlos Correa with the top pick in the draft. Correa played at the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy, and Major League Baseball is always looking to grow the game and foster talent outside the 50 states.

“Wonderful. It really is. It’s everything we’re trying to accomplish, in a lot of ways,” Selig said. “So I’m very pleased. Very pleased.”

There is lots of talk about how he’s the highest draft pick out of Puerto Rico ever, and how that’s such a great thing for the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy.  And it is. But it’s also misleading.

There has only been a draft for players from Puerto Rico since 1989. Before that players from Puerto Rico were free agents, just like international players.  Also before that there were many more players from Puerto Rico in affiliated baseball than there are now, with most experts saying that the institution of the draft drove many away from baseball due to the far worse economic rewards compared to life under free agency.

The Puerto Rico Baseball Academy, then, wasn’t something that elevated baseball on the island. It was something that, at best, is trying to make up for the destruction Major League Baseball wrought to amateur baseball there by imposing the draft in the first place.

That Correa is the number one pick is a good thing for him, for Puerto Rico and for baseball.  That it took 23 years to get a number one overall pick from the land that produced Roberto Clemente, Orlando Cepeda and Roberto Alomar is not something that Bud Selig should be particularly proud of “accomplishing,” however.

Justin Verlander named ALCS MVP

Getty Images
4 Comments

Following the Astros’ decisive 4-0 shutout over the Yankees on Saturday night, Justin Verlander was named the Most Valuable Player of the American League Championship Series. Hall of Fame outfielder and former MLB manager Frank Robinson handed the award to Verlander, who was beaming as he thanked his teammates and members of the Astros’ organization.

“I’ve got to say, it came down to the wire, and one thing kept going off in my head was Dallas,” Verlander told the crowd gathered at Minute Maid Park. “When he called me, he said that I won’t regret my decision to join the Houston Astros. And here we are right now, it’s the best feeling in the world. We’ve got four more wins to win a World Series, and I do not regret my decision to come here. This is the best feeling a player can have. So, thank you.”

Among a cast that boasted the likes of Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Dallas Keuchel, among others, Verlander was spectacular. He locked down a complete game win in Game 2, holding the Yankees to one run on five hits and a walk and striking out a postseason-high 13 batters. In Game 6, he saved the Astros from elimination with seven scoreless innings, helping propel the club to their eventual 7-1 finish that set up their series-clinching finale on Saturday.

The 34-year-old righty also took his place among some postseason greats. Thanks to an eight-strikeout outing on Friday night, his collective 136 postseason strikeouts are good for sixth-most in MLB playoff history, just a smidgen shy of Tom Glavine (143), Mike Mussina (145), Roger Clemens (173), Andy Pettitte (183) and John Smoltz (199). He also joined Bob Gibson, Curt Schilling and Sandy Koufax as one of just four hurlers to strike out 20+ Yankees in a postseason series.