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Harper, A-Rod, Griffey... Taylor, Van Poppel


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There is absolutely no good that came of Bryce Harper being placed on the cover of SI as the next baseball phenom... unless you consider millions of Harper threads across the country on countless message boards something good.

There are a few ways to react after reading the story. First, you can get pumped, and in the Orioles case, realistically start discussing the potential of drafting this future All Star and Hall of Famer. Second, you can be cynical, assume that because people say he is great, he won't be. Third, sit back and see how it plays out without being reactionary in any direction. There are various gray area along this spectrum, of course, but most fall into these categories to some extent.

Fact is, there have been uber-hyped HS "phenoms" for years. Alex Rodriguez was a surefire Hall of Famer since he was 17 and unless steroids keep him out, he will be enshrined in Cooperstown someday as one of the all-time greats. Ken Griffey, Jr., arguably the greatest player of the steroid era to never have tested positive or be linked to any performance enhancing substance, was a No. 1 pick out of HS that shot through the Seattle minor league system, captivated the city, the nation and took the hapless Mariners to the playoffs and nearly the World Series.

However, you have the types that create the cynics. And I'm not just talking about Oriole fans' recent jaded feeling about Billy Rowell. The bust of a HS first rounder is was not nearly as hyped as Harper, so while we should be hesitant to jump on the Harper bandwagon when hearing about the always-finicky "raw power," coupling the two is unfair.

Instead we should look at two HS "phenoms" Brien Taylor and Todd Van Poppel. While both are pitchers, and Harper is a hitter (I won't assign him a position), it's fair to say that by looking at Taylor and Van Poppel its clear that great talent and HS numbers don't necessarily transition to the pros.

I'm not completely on the Harper bandwagon, but "overhyped" is a dangerous word. While it has a negative connotation, it's fair to say that Matt Wieters was overhyped. Switch-hitting Jesus may turn into a Hall of Famer and face of the franchise, but unless he is Mike Piazza meets Pudge Rodriguez, he could be ruled as "overhyped." Just because somebody has been pushed to the moon by writers and message board posters doesn't mean that they are bad, they may just not be as good as people say they are.

If we were to end up with Harper, he ends up a left fielder, makes it to OPACY by the time he's 21 and hits 25-30 home runs for 12 years, is that a disappointment? Is that overhyped? I'd say if I can be sure of that production from the get-go, I'd draft that No. 1 overall every day.

My point is that "overhyped" is a dangerous word because many regard it as "this guy will never be anything" instead of it's true meaning "he's not as good as they say."

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Harper will cost MILLIONS to sign- more than most guys drafted in the same/similar slot. He has Boras in his corner, and a LOT of leverage in negotiations- he can remain in JUCO, or enroll in a 4 yr school. He's only 16! If he is not as good as predicted, that will cost a lot of money to find out.

But to mash the ball the way he can at 16 is most unusual....

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It's rare to completely miss on a #1 overall when it's a position player. Most #1 overall position players (that weren't major reaches) have made it as productive players.

In terms of a "can't miss" guy missing stardom, I think you have to go all the way back to Shawn Abner. The jury is still out on a few of the recent picks.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Major_League_Baseball_first_overall_draft_choices

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Instead we should look at two HS "phenoms" Brien Taylor and Todd Van Poppel. While both are pitchers, and Harper is a hitter (I won't assign him a position), it's fair to say that by looking at Taylor and Van Poppel its clear that great talent and HS numbers don't necessarily transition to the pros.

Very well thought-out post.

Quick clarification, though...IIRC, Brien Taylor got injured in a bar fight. So it wasn't that his talent didn't translate to the pros, it's that he suffered a fluke injury that ended his career.

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It's rare to completely miss on a #1 overall when it's a position player. Most #1 overall position players (that weren't major reaches) have made it as productive players.

In terms of a "can't miss" guy missing stardom, I think you have to go all the way back to Shawn Abner. The jury is still out on a few of the recent picks.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Major_League_Baseball_first_overall_draft_choices

I wonder if Tim Beckham will be the next one on that list.......

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It's rare to completely miss on a #1 overall when it's a position player. Most #1 overall position players (that weren't major reaches) have made it as productive players.

In terms of a "can't miss" guy missing stardom, I think you have to go all the way back to Shawn Abner. The jury is still out on a few of the recent picks.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Major_League_Baseball_first_overall_draft_choices

How soon we have forgotten Matt Bush, its been 5 years there is no jury coming back on him. A complete bust in every sense of the word. You can even spell bust out of his name.

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How soon we have forgotten Matt Bush, its been 5 years there is no jury coming back on him. A complete bust in every sense of the word. You can even spell bust out of his name.

That said . . . it is hard to really consider him a first overall pick. He was chosen because he would take a pittance for a number one pick . . . not because he was valued as one. I think the consensus was Bush belonged in the backend of the first round or even as a supplemental.

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How soon we have forgotten Matt Bush, its been 5 years there is no jury coming back on him. A complete bust in every sense of the word. You can even spell bust out of his name.

I didn't forget him. As I said:

Most #1 overall position players (that weren't major reaches) have made it as productive players.

Matt Bush had no business whatsoever being picked #1 - and this is not just with the benefit of hindsight, as it was obvious to the entire universe at the time.

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