Craig Calcaterra

Blogger at NBC Sport.com's HardballTalk. Recovering litigator. Rake. Scoundrel. Notorious Man-About-Town.

The Draft is Tonight. No one knows anything.

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OK, that’s not entirely true. There are people who know a lot of things about the draft. We’re not really them, however, as we don’t really cover high school or college baseball around here. Your huckleberries for actual insight on the amateurs who will, as of this evening, be the presumptive property of major league baseball teams are guys like ESPN’s Keith Law, MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo and Baseball America’s Jim Callis.

The draft will be broadcast on MLB Network this evening. There will be a pre-draft show at 6PM Eastern and the actual draft will get going at 7PM. It will also stream at MLB.com. They’ve been trying to give the draft a push like the NFL and NBA drafts in recent years, going to prime time and having presumptive draftees on location at the studio, but the baseball draft will never be an event like that. It’s too random and the players aren’t household names at all. Only two actual draft hopefuls will be on site tonight. The fact that the college baseball season is still going on kind of puts a dent into those kinds of plans.

As for who will go high, the guessing is that one of a group of players including University of Florida pitcher A.J. Puk, University of Louisville outfielder Corey Ray, Mercer University outfielder Kyle Lewis, California high school outfielder Mickey Moniak or New Jersey high school pitcher Jason Groome will go high. Groome was long thought the consensus top pick, but unlike football and the basketball, players who are drafted have the option of going to college or going back to college and Groome has flirted with both four-year and junior college commitments in recent weeks, suggesting to some he may be hard to sign. Who goes high is something of a crapshoot, really.

Actually, who goes anywhere is a crapshoot, as is how they will do. One need only look over the years of draft history to see that there are no sure things in baseball. It takes a long time to develop a player. Pitchers get hurt. Position players plateau. It makes it very difficult to handicap the draft with any degree of certainty, let alone to award letter grades the day after or to declare winners or losers. We may not know who “won” a draft for five years. If we ever do.

But it’s happening. You’ll hear a lot about it. But that one thing sports fans love — definitive outcomes — will be wholly absent from the draft festivities, making it, as always, as somewhat less-than-satisfying affair for all but the most knowledgable and enthused prospect junkies.

Mike Piazza bought a soccer team

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Mike Piazza is a Hall of Famer-elect and one of the most beloved New York Mets of all time. He’s now a sports mogul too. Yesterday he announced that he has purchases a majority share of A.C. Reggiana 1919 — an Italian soccer team that plays in Lega Pro, the third division of Italian soccer.

Take that, retired athletes who say they want to go into sports ownership but then only buy, like, one half of one percent interest into a majority owners’ group that calls all the shots but trots you out as the “face” of the franchise. Piazza is actually owning something.

I took the liberty of researching the city in which the club plays in case Piazza plans on being a hands-on owner and wants to know what to do with himself. It’s in the area where Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese comes from. And Lambrusco wine. Historically, it was one of the largest strongholds of socialists and communists in Italy too, so Piazza had best gear-up for tough labor negotiations. That’s all I got, pretty much.

Yu Darvish is fine, it seems

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Yu Darvish left last night’s Astros-Rangers game early with shoulder trouble. Given that he was just two and a half starts back from Tommy John surgery it seemed worrisome. But it now seems that it may not be as worrisome as first, um, worried.

Darvish played catch today and afterward said he expects to take his next turn in the Rangers’ rotation, which would be Monday at Oakland. Darvish will be reevaluated after his usual bullpen session this weekend. Assuming the tightness is gone, the effective Darvish — he has 19 strikeouts in 15 and two-thirds innings — will be back on the hill as scheduled.