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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Understanding and Epic Struggle - Shaq Green-Thompson

[bq]Thompson, a high school football star and one of the top safety recruits in the country, will now head to the University of Washington to start his football season. He leaves behind his summer in Fort Myers having gone 0-for-39 with 37 strikeouts and eight walks. ...

The hitless month earned Thompson the most undesirable kind of national attention. First, Deadspin picked up on his struggles. That sort of notoriety was distasteful enough. But then came the derisive claim by a national baseball columnist that, finally, he’d found the pro baseball player with skills inferior to his own and those of his readers.

That was the comment that set off a number of members of the Red Sox organization, who circled the wagons around a player who this summer became one of the most popular in the minor league system. It was the sort of critique that not only struck them as wildly unfair but also, in a larger sense, was potentially damaging to the sport that Thompson was trying to play.[/bq]

[bq]But more recently, amidst the concussion crisis in the NFL, both Thompson and his family thought that it might be worth exploring an alternate route. He’d loved baseball as a kid, and so, they decided, perhaps he could give a second sport another chance.[/bq]

Very interesting and detailed look at the Red Sox’ 18th round pick in this year’s draft.  Gives a lot more detail about what the Sox saw in him and how Green-Thompson has dealt with his struggles and answers the question of why he’s been playing rather than just working out in a batting cage somewhere.

Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: July 21, 2012 at 05:19 PM | 27 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: minor leagues, red sox

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   1. SoSH U at work Posted: July 21, 2012 at 06:12 PM (#4188834)
Interesting read (would have been nice to hear from Green-Thompson, but I'm guessing Speier tried and had no luck).

I couldn't find the columnist who made that remark (anyone know), but I did notice a strange amount of pleasure folks seemed to be taking in this kid's struggles.



   2. Bob Tufts Posted: July 21, 2012 at 06:19 PM (#4188840)
Those that can do, those that can't become sportswriters.
   3. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: July 21, 2012 at 06:30 PM (#4188849)
This kid might be the worst hitter since Mickey Mantle.

Yes, really.
   4. Bhaakon Posted: July 21, 2012 at 06:33 PM (#4188852)
I couldn't find the columnist who made that remark (anyone know), but I did notice a strange amount of pleasure folks seemed to be taking in this kid's struggles.


I don't know about pleasure, but it would kind of bother me if a guy who basically hadn't played baseball since elementary school managed to hold his own in the minor leagues on pure athletic talent. I rather like that baseball is a sport where just being a top-notch natural athlete (at least in the way that sportswriters usually define them) doesn't go very far.
   5. The kids disappeared, now Der-K has too much candy Posted: July 21, 2012 at 06:54 PM (#4188857)
Sgt had an ops over 1000 in HS this year [ Max preps ]
Don't know who the columnist was but our dayn perry had a poll on the issue over at notgraphs
   6. bobm Posted: July 21, 2012 at 07:13 PM (#4188866)
[5] Don't know who the columnist was but our dayn perry had a poll on the issue over at notgraphs

That's an understatement:

urgent breaking news regarding the stat line of Red Sox 18th-round draft choice Shaq Green-Thompson. Mr. Green-Thompson is currently plying his trade in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League, and his bestowals to date defy belief, explanation and one’s capability to impart basic facts: ...

Woo, ####. Look at that.

We are doughy. Often — disconcertingly often — our flatulence is so severe that we require a nap in order to prepare ourselves for our regular nap. We have lost weight just twice in our lives: once when we got food poisoning after eating Gaines Burgers at the movies and once when we slept for 96 straight hours after walking up the street to Baskin-Robbins and back. We are barely ambulatory. We manage to combine scarcely prehensile hot-dog fingers with wrists as reedy as reeds. We are not athletes, unless drawing 30 wheezy, loaded-chili-cheese-fries breaths per minute while taking up the entire sofa counts as a jockish endeavor.

So this brings us to a necessary and urgent query: Could we, in such foul-smelling disrepair, replicate Mr. Green-Thompson’s performance to date? That is, could dumb, ugly we strike out 25 times in 26 at-bats, ground out weakly once and back into five walks? Or would we fare even worse?

Call-to-action Internet poll!


http://www.fangraphs.com/not/index.php/can-you-do-what-shaq-green-thompson-has-done/
   7. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: July 21, 2012 at 07:16 PM (#4188867)
“We, as an industry, are trying to get athletes into MLB. We don’t want to lose them to other sports,” said Sawdaye.


"Athletes" can't play baseball. Only ballplayers can play baseball.
   8. CFBF Is A Golden Spider Duck Posted: July 21, 2012 at 09:08 PM (#4188945)
Wow, George Lombard sighting.
   9. AROM Posted: July 21, 2012 at 11:52 PM (#4188988)
Shaq is a conundrum. From the link above, he hit 305/379/644 in high school, so he at least has some understanding of what to do at the plate. Obviously he's facing much better pitching in the pros, but I'm pretty sure there are drafted players who hit worse in HS than Shaq did.

I've got a bunch of Baseball America almanacs, that show the batting stats of high schoolers taken, usually the first 100 picks or so. There are a few who hit .600, Andrew McCutchen hit over .700. Most are in the .400 to .550 range. Every now and then you see a high pick who hit a bit under .400 in high school. So I would assume that some of the 25-50th rounders who sign out of high school are worse than that, and probably comparable stat wise to Shaq. While most of them (really, almost all of them) wash out in the minors, I can't recall any that were this bad.

I would assume that the worse hitting pitcher would have even worse batting stats than Shaq. They don't hit in the pros until they get to AA, so I have no idea if any of them would strike out 37 times in 39 AB.

Looking at play index, there has never been a pitcher, hitting against other MLB pitchers, to put up a stat line quite this bad. The worst strikeout rate (min 25 PA) is Bob Hendley in 1967. He struck out 20 times in 24 AB, but actually managed 2 hits. Jim Duckworth in 1963 was hitless, but at least made contact 5 times in 27 AB.

I think I could manage, if given 39 at bats against any level of pro pitching, to at least pop the ball up or tap a grounder back to the mound more than twice.

But if I were to face HS pitching, assuming mostly guys throwing 75-85 mph, I'm damn sure I don't OPS over 1000. There is the conundrum.
   10. tjm1 Posted: July 22, 2012 at 02:08 AM (#4189010)
I think I could manage, if given 39 at bats against any level of pro pitching, to at least pop the ball up or tap a grounder back to the mound more than twice.

But if I were to face HS pitching, assuming mostly guys throwing 75-85 mph, I'm damn sure I don't OPS over 1000. There is the conundrum.


I have no idea what kind of athlete you are but let me suggest two possibilities: (1) you're overestimating your ability to make contact against minor league pitching or (2) Green-Thompson is a much faster runner and a stronger guy with better bat speed than you. He'd have a decent chance of beating out any ball hit on the ground anywhere but right at a high school infielder, and a better chance at hitting extra base hits if he made solid contact. On the other hand, you might have better bat control and pitch recognition, which might allow you not to strike out so much against better pitching.

The guy may just be completely unable to hit a curveball, also, and it might be that for some reason, the whole league knew that right away.


I don't know about pleasure, but it would kind of bother me if a guy who basically hadn't played baseball since elementary school managed to hold his own in the minor leagues on pure athletic talent. I rather like that baseball is a sport where just being a top-notch natural athlete (at least in the way that sportswriters usually define them) doesn't go very far.


There are a handful of big leaguers, some of them stars, who didn't play high school ball at all. Claudell Washington didn't, and he was an all-star by age 20. I'm pretty sure Norm Cash didn't, and he played fewer than 250 games in the minors and more or less defines one side of the borderline between being in the Hall of Fame and not.
   11. Fernigal McGunnigle has become a merry hat Posted: July 22, 2012 at 09:32 AM (#4189029)
I think I could manage, if given 39 at bats against any level of pro pitching, to at least pop the ball up or tap a grounder back to the mound more than twice.

But if I were to face HS pitching, assuming mostly guys throwing 75-85 mph, I'm damn sure I don't OPS over 1000. There is the conundrum.


SGT's high school line doesn't mean anything. The ISO is impressive, but as AROM says that could just indicate speed (he had 5 triples and 1 HR, which backs that guess up). I just checked and last year my old high school hit 334/435/470 as a team. Their two guys who are going to play at UNC are middle infielders who hit 406/541/672 and 395/440/697. They had seniors who so far as I can tell aren't going to play D1 ball hit 362/577/511 and 361/420/500. They had a junior hit 350/480/600 and another one hit 370/471/481. SGT's HS numbers aren't that special and mean much, much less than a solid scouting assessment.
   12. The kids disappeared, now Der-K has too much candy Posted: July 22, 2012 at 10:34 AM (#4189039)
I said this in a different SGT thread, but...
BA ranked SGT 117th in California, pre-draft. That's better than it sounds - 103 guys from that state made their national list (top 500).

Thompson is one of the top football recruits in the nation, and his brother, Syd'Quan, is a cornerback for the Denver Broncos. Shaq was committed to California, but in January when the Bears' recruiting coordinator, Tosh Lupoi, headed north to Washington, his prize recruit followed suit. He's expected to be a safety in college, and at Grant he was also a running back, kick returner and punter. He also shows off his athletic ability on the baseball field, and a team may try to persuade him to play baseball in the minor leagues during the summer while playing football at Washington. An outfielder on the baseball field, Thompson is a 6-foot-2, 210-pound physical specimen. He needs a lot of work to improve his routes and jumps in the outfield, not to mention his approach at the plate.


As for his HS #s, they're hard to evaluate as:
* we don't know how good the comp he was facing was (varies WILDLY at that level) and,
* they're HS #s.
   13. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: July 22, 2012 at 12:21 PM (#4189061)
SGT's high school line doesn't mean anything.


I disagree. He struck out 17 times in 66 PA against high school pitching. That means something. My son, who is nobody's idea of anything more than a DIII prospect, hasn't struck out that many times in three seasons. A former teammate of his, who was state player of the year in 2011, hit 500/548/935 with 3 strikeouts in 105 PA his senior year and 500/521/659 with 2 strikeouts in 96 PA his junior year. He's also a LHP who throws around 88 mph with filthy off-speed stuff. He tried to walk on at UVA and got cut.

SGT sounds like an awesome athlete. He doesn't sound like a baseball player.
   14. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: July 22, 2012 at 12:28 PM (#4189065)
The ISO is impressive, but as AROM says that could just indicate speed (he had 5 triples and 1 HR, which backs that guess up).


Also, 10 for 10 in stolen bases.
   15. tjm1 Posted: July 22, 2012 at 12:40 PM (#4189068)
Jackie Robinson hit .097 in the one season of college baseball he played.

http://spotlight.ucla.edu/alumni/jackie-robinson/

Great athletes can learn new sports, and can do it faster than you might think. There are other examples outside baseball, as well - Stephen Neal, for example. This sort of thing doesn't always work out, but it does work once in a while.
   16. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: July 22, 2012 at 01:40 PM (#4189090)
Syd'Quan


I'm sorry, what?
   17. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: July 22, 2012 at 01:48 PM (#4189099)
I think a lot of people are overestimating the quality of high school pitching and high school fielding. I also think the buried lede here is that a world class, D1 football talent is actively looking for a safer outlet for his athletic skills, due to the on-going concussion issues in football.
   18. Karl from NY Posted: July 22, 2012 at 01:57 PM (#4189106)
> Syd'Quan

I'm sorry, what?

I think it came from the George Lucas Name Generator.
   19. Jeff Frances the Mute Posted: July 22, 2012 at 03:17 PM (#4189197)
I also think the buried lede here is that a world class, D1 football talent is actively looking for a safer outlet for his athletic skills, due to the on-going concussion issues in football.


Thompson is playing baseball as a summer job for spending money. There is a long line of elite college football athletes doing this on their way to the NFL.
   20. AROM Posted: July 22, 2012 at 03:29 PM (#4189219)
BA ranked SGT 117th in California, pre-draft. That's better than it sounds - 103 guys from that state made their national list (top 500).


That would, I guess put him around #600 overall. Is that among all draft prospects (which would mean people thought he had 20th round talent) or among high schoolers, which means not good enough to be drafted? (about 450 HS players selected).

I disagree. He struck out 17 times in 66 PA against high school pitching. That means something. My son, who is nobody's idea of anything more than a DIII prospect, hasn't struck out that many times in three seasons.


It means he's not a serious hitting prospect. But there have to be some pitching prospects who were worse, at the HS level, than SGT. And no pitcher has ever had a season at the big league level quite that bad. My guess is that if Shaq threw 95, had a good curve and change and was a propsect that way, he'd be able to figure out how to at least hit .050 and make contact 40% by the time he got to the levels where pitchers hit.


   21. The kids disappeared, now Der-K has too much candy Posted: July 22, 2012 at 03:55 PM (#4189228)
Among all domestic prospects, AROM.

Summer job: probably, sure.

Johnny Damon hit .306 his sr year, iirc (there were extenuating circumstances and he had a good track record before that though not a high average; also, don't have k #s) - I believe in avoiding guys who don't hit well as a prep, but it's no hard and fast rule.
   22. tjm1 Posted: July 22, 2012 at 04:05 PM (#4189234)
Johnny Damon hit .306 his sr year, iirc (there were extenuating circumstances and he had a good track record before that though not a high average; also, don't have k #s) - I believe in avoiding guys who don't hit well as a prep, but it's no hard and fast rule.


OK - but Damon hit .349 in rookie league ball. Did he have some illness or injury as a high school senior, or did he learn to hit in a real hurry?
   23. Zipperholes Posted: July 22, 2012 at 04:12 PM (#4189238)
SGT's HS numbers aren't that special and mean much, much less than a solid scouting assessment.
I don't think these things are being argued. The only point is a 1.000 OPS in California (northern, not southern, but still) indicates someone who can make contact once in a while against Rookie League pitching. I'd be surprised if he didn't often face guys throwing in the mid 80s.

Did he play summer ball? That's the level where you're playing with your peers, not high school, so his performance there would be a much better indication.
   24. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: July 22, 2012 at 04:18 PM (#4189240)
Did he play summer ball?


My guess would be no. He's almost certainly spent his summers focusing on football, and that's got to be a big part of why he's struggled so much in his pro baseball debut.
   25. tjm1 Posted: July 22, 2012 at 04:29 PM (#4189244)
I don't think these things are being argued. The only point is a 1.000 OPS in California (northern, not southern, but still) indicates someone who can make contact once in a while against Rookie League pitching. I'd be surprised if he didn't often face guys throwing in the mid 80s.


Of course, given that he's probably quite strong and definitely very fast, he might have just really beaten up on the less talented pitchers he faced.
   26. The kids disappeared, now Der-K has too much candy Posted: July 22, 2012 at 04:35 PM (#4189252)
22 - food poisoning, iirc
He was a preseason candidate to go 1/1, but was a sub .400 guy as a jr too

Point was that not murdering HS pitchers isn't the end of the world

Doesn't sound like anyone though sgt would be a world beater on day 1 - rather that he had interest and athleticism. Bonus, if he sticks w it for at least 4 (?) yrs in 100k, so no $ that counts their bonus pool. Decent gamble for Boston to take, albeit one unlikely to pay off.
   27. Walt Davis Posted: July 22, 2012 at 05:56 PM (#4189285)
Nobody's talking about the awesome walk rate! :-)

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