The game of baseball is struggling to maintain youth participation, writes Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal, who says that the trend poses real concerns for an otherwise thriving sport. Newly-minted commissioner Rob Manfred has honed in on the issue since taking office, saying that “the biggest predictor of fan avidity as an adult is whether you played the game.” It’s a fascinating read that’s well worth your time.
Let’s check in on some amateur notes from around the game:
- ESPN.com’s Keith Law (Insider link) posts his first mock draft as June 8th draws near. While acknowledging that it is still early, Law predicts that the Diamondbacks will take Vanderbilt shortstop Dansby Swanson with the first overall pick while the Astros will add LSU shortstop Alex Bregman and high school outfielder Kyle Tucker with the second and fifth picks. Law adds that he does not expect Vandy righty Carson Fulmer to make it past the White Sox with the eighth pick.
- Speaking of Fulmer, Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs suggests that he represents a relatively rare “Black Swan” option in this year’s draft. You’ll need to read the piece to understand the concept, but McDaniel uses that classification for a subset of players that have been somewhat underappreciated by traditional player assessment tools: “small, right-handed, major-college starting pitchers with little to no injury history and a good performance record.”
- The antithesis of the Black Swan pitcher, perhaps, is the high school power arm, and the Marlins took an enticing one last year in Tyler Kolek. Josh Norris of Baseball America checks in on the 2014 second overall selection, who the club chose over Carlos Rodon. Now featuring an increasingly promising curve, the 19-year-old is said to be showing signs of developing into the top-of-the-rotation starter that Miami dreamed of when it chose him. Of course, his stat line has yet to reflect that promise, and he has a long way to go.
- The White Sox join a growing list of clubs with “serious interest” in Cuban outfielder Eddy Julio Martinez, MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez tweets. The 20-year-old is free to sign at any time, though it’s possible he could wait until the next July 2 period kicks off this summer.
- Agent Joshua Kusnick discussed the draft from an advisor’s perspective in a podcast with Ryan Sullivan (draft talk begins around the 24:00 mark), sharing his thoughts on the slotting system and the possibility of a worldwide draft, among other issues.