Thursday, January 26, 2012

Baseball America's Prospect Handbook

Today in my mailbox the yellow package arrived from the folks at Baseball America. Contained inside was their annual Prospect Handbook product, the Bible for following baseball prospects.

Published annually, the Prospect Handbook contains the Top 30 prospects for each organization in Major League Baseball as evaluated by the staff of Baseball America.

The book contains a full page spread on the #1 prospect in each organization, shows a thumbnail photo of each of the top 10 prospects, with a bio and brief scouting report on every one of the 30 listed.

A new feature with the 2012 edition is the inclusion of both a scouting numerical "grade" and a "risk factor" for each evaluated prospect.

The scouting grade will reflect the state of the player's current physical skills. The risk factor will show whether that player is more likely at this stage of his career to maximize those skills and to reach his potential.

The scouting grade is based on the traditional baseball 20-80 'OFP' (Overall Future Potential) formula in which players are rated on their power, hitting ability, arm, base running/speed, and fielding ability.

The highest ranked players, those in the 75-80 range of the scale, are impact talents that can change the face of an organization. Most prospects will fall into the 50-55 range. You will rarely see players at a 30-35 or lower level make it into the book.

The risk factor was developed by the folks at Baseball America, and includes ratings of "Safe", "Low", "Medium", "High" and "Extreme" that will reflect their opinion as to how likely it is that a player with a certain skill set is to maximize his potential and translate those skills to the big league level.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Rallying 'Round Romney

I've been a fan of Newt Gingrich for a long time. At the same time that Gingrich was leading the Republicans to victory in the 1994 congressional elections with his "Contract With America", I was making my own shift from lifelong liberal Democrat to social conservative Republican.

Gingrich is a brilliant man, a superb debater, and perhaps the single most informed individual in the entire Party on the entire range of issues.

His performances in the early candidate debates were outstanding. So it was with hope that I began to support his candidacy for the Presidency last year, and with excitement that I watched him bolt to the polling lead a month or so ago.

But as the weeks pass, the first states begin to cast their primary and caucus ballots, and the candidates are exposed to one another in more focused debates and to the press and public at campaign stops that now matter more than ever, Mitt Romney has taken a commanding lead.

The former Massachusetts Governor became the first Republican in modern primary history to capture both the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary.

Romney's doubleheader sweep in the Heartland and in New England show that he has a wide range of appeal. That has always been one of Mitt Romney's strengths.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Low Times for Catholic Highs


(Originally published here on 10.10.09)


The Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced the other day that two of its long time iconic high schools, North Catholic and Cardinal Dougherty, would be closing at the end of the current school year.

The reaction from students and their families at the two schools, which were each once the largest Catholic high schools for boys by attendance in the world, as well as from alumni of the two schools, came swift and strong.

Many of the students had dreamed of graduating from North and Dougherty, some of these students as 'legacies' who were the sons and grandsons of alumni. The loss of the schools would break family traditions going back for generations. There would also be issues for the students such as new travel arrangements to new schools and trying to fit in socially in a new environment.

For alumni the issues included the loss of tradition and a perceived elimination of a large slice of their own teenage memories. These former students and graduates had walked the 'hallowed halls' at North and Dougherty, competed for the sports teams, participated in the clubs, attended the religious services, and got their groove on at the dances and proms.

When North Catholic opened in 1926 it enrolled approximately 450 students. By the post-World War II years the school enrollment had swelled to more than 4,000 young men. By 1953 the enrollment was over 4,700 students, and North Catholic was recognized as the largest Catholic high school for boys in the entire world. It was all downhill from there as far as attendance figures.

By the late-1970's with the school celebrating its 50th anniversary, total attendance fell to about 2,700 students, and then dropped below the 2,000 mark by the early 1980's. Though there are now approximately 40,000 alumni of North Catholic high school, the actual 2008 attendance had plummeted to 750 total students.