Minor League Ball Gameday, June 4

I have an ARM - Harry How

Good morning prospect watchers. The draft is 24 hours closer and as always there are last-second complications and intrigue.

***The big news of course is the revelation that University of Oklahoma right-hander Jonathan Gray and Marshall University right-hander Aaron Blair tested positive for the banned stimulant Adderall; Conor Glassey at Baseball America has the latest at that link. Gray is widely expected to go in the first three picks, while Blair is expected to be chosen late in the first round or in the competitive balance round. Neither pitcher had the proper prescription. They can't be suspended since they aren't professionals yet, but both will be subject to further scrutiny once they are drafted and sign a professional contract.

The positive test isn't supposed to impact Gray's status as an elite draft pick and I don't think it will. I doubt it will have much of an impact for Blair either. The misuse of Adderall is rampant on college campuses to boost short-term concentration and academic performance, so it isn't a surprise really that athletes are being caught too.

This ties into the broader topic of PEDs of course. I've been working on an essay regarding PED use for months, but it isn't ready to publish yet. Overall, I wouldn't say that Gray and Blair (or anyone else) using Adderall is "no big deal," but it gets tangled up into webs of culture and competition that are hard to unravel and explain clearly. I'm working on it.

***In other draft news, Marc Normandin breaks down the 2013 Bonus Pools that each team has to work with.

***Grant Brisbee asks if teams are getting better at drafting. Answer? Reply hazy, ask again later.

***Yasiel Puig can throw. No problem with his body language there.

***Cincinnati Reds prospect Billy Hamilton can run and legged out an inside-the-park homer yesterday for Triple-A Louisville. His hitting has been creeping upward gradually after a cold start and he's now at .248/.315/.349 on the season with 30 steals. Inadequate production, obviously, so there's no big pressure to get him to the majors anytime soon.

***Boston Red Sox prospect Garin Cecchini remains hot for High-A Salem and has his season line standing at .364/.481/.580 with a 35/27 BB/K in 216 plate appearances.

***Twins prospect Byron Buxton has a sore thumb and is temporarily sidelined.

***Phillies outfielder Domonic Brown now has 17 homers and is hitting .291/.329/.592 on the season. I know a lot of people were getting close to giving up on him after the sluggish start to his major league career, but he's still only 25 years old and I don't think there is any reason to assume his breakout is a complete illusion. The talent was always there; he needed health and a full opportunity. The next time your favorite hot prospect doesn't dominate right away, remember Brown and remember Alex Gordon. Brett Lawrie might fall into that category.

***The Chronicle of Higher Education doesn't have much to do with baseball, but I found a nugget in there worth mentioning. In an article entitled "Friends with Benefits" (sorry, this isn't about sex), David O'Hara and John Kaag discuss the issues of isolation and collaboration in the humanities. The relevant paragraph to our project this one:

Cultivating a voice-one that is both sophisticated and understandable-takes an enormous amount of practice. And it requires more than a little humility. . .We have to actually care when others don't grasp our point. Miscommunication is not a function of others' ineptitude, but a reflection of our own. That may not always be the case, but it is unequivocally possible. And we have the choice to consider this possibility seriously. Doing so might mean that we begin to collaborate and discover a voice that is worth being listened to. We cannot do this by ourselves. It is not good to be alone.

This relates to the larger essay I'm working on called Integrating Baseball Knowledge. One aspect of my idea is that studying baseball prospects should be understood as a form of the humanities. That may sound silly on the surface, but as has been pointed out recently, prospecting is serious business for teams, with millions of dollars and hundreds of jobs on the line. Teams take it seriously, and we should too. The essay will likely have to wait until after the draft.

***Today's minor league baseball schedule.

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