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Project Prospect 2013:

A helpful suggestion for holiday smalltalk

Snow, holidays, St. Basilica
Snow, holidays, St. Basilica
David Rogers

It’s the holiday season, and I’m feelin’ pretty family friendly, so I want to talk to you about an idea. ‘Tis the season for both small talk and the promise of a new year, so I think you should have small talk about your new year. And what a year it will be, when you and your kid, or your sig-o, or your parent, or your nephew or niece, or best friend, or your dog, keep tabs on your new favorite prospect. You’re going to pick a prospect to follow and root for during 2013. Now don’t get carried away and overreach, believe me, tracking these kids every dang day is a labor of love and it requires patience and a ridiculously consistent Internet connection. Nope, I just want you and your buddy to pick one. And I don’t want you to pick one with a statistical bent in mind. It’s my slice to effectively attempt removing the emotion from the evaluation report process, not yours. Tap into your inner-Mitch Albom, except without the empirical analysis lobotomy and antiquated thinking. Pick a kid for some random, easily rationalized reason. CJ Edwards is from South Carolina. You got kinfolk in South Carolina? Okey dokey, pick CJ Edwards then. Jared Hoying likes to hunt large animals with a bow and arrow. Do you like to hunt large animals with a bow and arrow too? Well, then you should track Rabbit Hoying as he attempts to make it to The Show. Joey Gallo is from Las Vegas. ‘Member that time you went to Vegas and you asdlkfajsdlfkj in the alsdkfjalskdf while wearing that adlfkjasdfalkdjf? Fingers crossed-- no pictures from that night, huh? Gobbles Gallo is your man.

Part of the fun with minor league baseball is the stories. I see no reason why those stories shouldn’t become your stories. A good idea, especially if a kiddo is involved, is to track a player who may be playing near you in 2013. It’s not too terribly difficult to predict the affiliate where most players will spend 2013. Please bear in mind, it’s not only possible your player never sees the bigs, it’s likely. (so don’t pick someone who’ll make your young kid cry, get it?) Remember you’re picking someone for a random reason, so picking Jose Valdespina because he’s 6’6” and 230lbs is perfectly acceptable. I mean, that kid is Sabathia big. You got a favorite uncle named “Larry”? Well Texas has a favorite middle-infield prospect named “Leury”. Plus what kid wouldn’t want to follow a player affectionately referred to by yours truly as Jiminy Cricket? Not to mention he’s probably about the same size as your middle schooler. (but with a better arm and way, way faster) Luke Jackson is from Florida. Chances are pretty good that if you have a kid between the ages of 5-12, they know where Florida is (ahem, Disney World). I think Luke’s gonna be in Frisco for a fair bit of time in 2013 and what’s more fun than a guy from Florida with shaggy hair who strikes a lot of batters out with mid-90s heat!?!

You’re probably not as big of a sap when it comes to minor league baseball as I am, but if you’re still reading this its because you love the game. It’s a difficult game full of subtlety and nuance and it’s pretty damn boring, especially to the untrained eye. But it can also be a unifying front. It brings people together. Always has, always will. It’s kinda like the holidays. Regardless of how you feel about them, you always end up participating. I have a friend whose 16 year old son is an avid Yankees fan because his first t-ball team was the Yankees and he’s been on board with them ever since. Kidding each other about the Yankees is about the only time they speak these days. Not because they aren’t close, or because the kid is a knucklehead, but because he’s 16 and has his license and a girlfriend and school and friends. I off-handedly told him about this piece last week and he sent me an email saying they had talked about it, albeit briefly in between the kid’s Black Ops 2 games, and they decided they would follow Gobbles Gallo. I said that was great and asked him how they picked Gallo. Turns out, the kid, on his own, researched and found out Gobbles was likely headed for a season in Hickory. He used this information to convince his dad the two of them should see Hickory in person in 2013. Dad agreed, suspicious of the kid’s enthusiasm for their first father-son trip in 6 years. While he was telling me the story, I knew exactly why the kid picked Gobbles and Hickory. I asked my buddy, “Did he tell you why he wants to see Hickory?” “Well, he said we could fly to Charleston to look at a couple of colleges and they have a minor league team that plays Hickory.” Charleston is, of course, the Yankees low-A affiliate. Well played, son, well played. Enjoy baseball! Love Ya!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving