Normally, I pay very little attention to the MLB draft. It seems to be much more of a crapshoot than either the football or basketball versions. An inordinate number of high choices don’t pan out and an equally inordinate number of stars come from the gazillionth round. It also goes on forever. Didn’t they start it about 30 minutes after Opening Day? Basically I have one rule about the draft: if a team drafts a left-handed high school pitcher in the first round, write “Bust” beside his name immediately. But this year is a little different. I noted three stories worth passing along.
1. In the 6th Round the Padres took Valparaiso outfielder Kyle Gaedele. Name strike a bell? Turns out he’s the great-nephew of Eddie Gaedele. That name strike a bell? Gaedele was the midget (can we use that word now?) that Bill Veeck signed to bat one time in1951. Gaedele walked, was taken out for a pinch runner, and had his contract immediately voided by MLB (which apparently had no sense of humor, even with “Happy” Chandler as commissioner). It was a heck of a stunt, ranking up there with the exploding scoreboard, also a Veeck innovation. Eddie Gaedele makes for a great footnote in baseball. Here’s hoping his nephew makes the big leagues and follows in his great-uncle’s shoes, if he can fit them on his feet (sorry, couldn’t resist the gag).
2. In the 33rd Round the Texas Rangers picked outfielder Johnathan Taylor of Georgia. Taylor was a prospect who was injured in an on-field collision back in March. He ran into a teammate while trying to catch a ball (BTW the teammate was also picked by the Rangers). Taylor is paralyzed from the waist down and is probably never going to be able to walk again. Classy move by the Rangers.
3. Along the same lines, the Astros picked Buddy Lamothe, a reliever from San Jacinto College in the 40th round. Lamothe was injured in a swimming accident and, like Taylor, is also paralyzed. Again, classy move by a team.
Now I think both the last two points are classy (as I said above) and this is certainly no knock on either team or the players chosen, but doesn’t it point out a problem with the MLB draft? If you can spend a pick on a paralyzed player, then maybe there are too many rounds of the draft and teams are reduced to marginal prospects in the latter rounds. I think it’s too long, but I acknowledge that occasionally good players are found really low in the draft (see Mike Piazza). I’m glad the guys were chosen, but it tells me that baseball needs to work on fixing up the draft. Thoughts? I mean other than I’m a spoilsport.