Re: Drafting Pitchers
I like a mix of both. College pitchers are safer bets because the team just has so much more to go on -- a performance record, a health record, greater physical maturity. High-schoolers are far more of a crapshoot. That's why so many people advocate going with college arms in the first round; when handing out multi-million dollar bonuses, teams want not just upside but a good chance of reaching it, and college pitchers offer better odds.
But the college model isn't perfect. The quality of instruction is uneven, the seasons are fairly short and managers -- especially in the postseason -- sometimes use those young arms in ways that make us avert the eyes. They're trying to win. And here's the critical point, to me: Any given player probably gets better instruction and development in three years of pro ball than he will get in three years of college. Teams like the Braves accept the inherently higher risk of prep players because they want that opportunity to mold the players during the critical 18-21 period, figuring the higher washout rate is balanced by better development of the ones who do "have it."
One thing I've noticed over the years is how much of RedsZone has embraced the notion of drafting college pitching. I don't think it's just Moneyball thinking; I think it also reflects the belief that nothing good ever happens to pitchers in the Reds' system, so we need to target guys who can get to the majors, like, yesterday, before we can ruin them. It's hard to argue with that logic based on the last 10-20 years, but at the same time, it's one of the things that has to change if we're ever going to consistently compete. I have some hope that it is; the last couple of seasons our minor-league pitchers are generally staying healthy, advancing levels as they should, etc. The acid test is still getting them to the show in one piece, but so far, so good.
Not all who wander are lost