Derrick Goold’s 10@10 is up and there’s a quote in there that’s worthy of being called out:
The Cardinals … well, the 2009 draft — at least Day 1 of it — puts the emphasis on two things: Their ability to sign Miller and their ability to develop obvious and (in the case of the next two picks) preceived latent talent. The onus will be on the coaches, not just the scouts. And that should have been part of the discussion all along. VP/Farm Director Jeff Luhnow said as much late Tuesday night at Busch Stadium.
“I feel like this was the year we could take some younger kids and some higher risks,” Luhnow said. “And let our system and our own people do what they do best — which is to take raw material that has a really high upside and turn it into a finished product.”
This was exactly my comment and concern with regards to the Miller pick. It’s a great live arm but he’s still a raw player in two regards: 1) the development of a changeup and 2) inconsistent command. We can debate the importance of a changeup (if his curveball is as good as reported, that can be an effective weapon against LH batters), but these are two areas that I would argue the development system has largely failed in the past.
Shelby Miller is a different kind of talent but guys like Adam Ottavino, Chris Lambert, Mark McCormick, etc. were take for their live fastballs and the belief that they could be coached from pitcher to thrower. There command issues never subsided and their secondary pitches never materialized as reliable offerings. We can place some of the blame on the pitchers but if the failing is systematic then you have to question the development process as well. And when was the last time you heard them teach a pitcher a changeup? I can’t think of one. (Anthony Reyes already had his in college.)
Without digressing too much, it doesn’t help the development system if there’s a different message being preached from different members of the orgaization. I’m not asking for a regimented creed in player development but there’s reason to think that the persistent schisms between Luhnow’s “crowd” and Jocketty “remenants” or TLR and DD are detrimental to developing players. Very few, if any, individuals have enough knowledge of the inner workings to speak to whether that’s truly an issue . . . but the conversation would be incomplete without mentioning it in passing.
So the guantlet is thrown and the challenge is issued. If these kids get signed, it’s on the player development program to produce the next core player for the Cardinals rather than someone who gets released from AA.