bleedCrimson.net: Your thoughts on Tyler Sturdevant and Jeff Farnham being drafted in the 27th round?
Rocky Ward:I'm glad they're getting opportunities. They're both a little maybe disappointed at the round but they still both went in the second day and there's some value in there. I talked to Jeff and they'll send him down to Tampa for the workouts and I think he'll be assigned out to the Penn League in Oneida, NY. That's a very very good league. He'll get a pretty good indoctrination into pro ball pretty quick. He's excited and that's all that's important.
I haven't talked to Tyler yet. He went with Cleveland. I don't know what timing is and where he'll go. We're still waiting on Marquez and still waiting on Wilson. I talked to Jake earlier today. This time in the draft the 20 to 30 rounds they generally call the kids and pre-negotiate the arrangements. He's had a phone call or two. I haven't talked to BMar so I don't know what his status is. Both those kids, Farnham and Sturdevant are both going to go out and do well. They'll represent themselves and the university well so I'm excited about those opportunities for them.
Sebastien Vendette is another guy that we thought might get drafted. It's good and we're excited about it. They're getting to do what they wanted to do. Tyler Sturdevant is a guy that's got his degree already so there isn't anything holding him back and Jeff's not too far away from finishing his.
We're happy for Jeff and we're happy for Tyler. Again, they're okay drafts, they could have been taken earlier and they deserved to be taken earlier. They know that this kid grades out. He's done it. It's the same old thing Jeff's always dealt with. They all know he can catch and throw and coming to us when we recruited him we recruited him with the idea that he was a good catch and throw guy but he couldn't hit much. Well he comes in and he hits for us and performs well on both sides of the game but that's still what they're holding over his head. They're not sure with the wood bat that he's going to hit much. I think they're wrong. Jeff's got an opportunity to prove whether they are or not.
bc.net: Your thoughts on Bryan Marquez earning Second Team All-American honors from the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association.
RW: When you consider that the first team guy is an Irvine guy and the third team guy is a Fullerton guy, the writers think the shortstops in the west are pretty good. He's in pretty good company. It's just another neat thing for him to reward him for such a great year. We're hoping he's going to get an opportunity to play some pro baseball. It's just so different, I was talking to my wife today and she was asking how some of these other guys go before Bryan Marquez, and people just don't understand that the pro people look at things really really different than the way we do as coaches or as fans that are looking for specific gradable skills. Whether a guy runs fast or not is more important to them [pro scouts] than whether he can steal a base or not. Or whether or not he throws hard enough is more important than whether he can get anybody out. It's really just a different approach to evaluating players and BMar is one of those few players that has really fallen in the cracks because he doesn't do any one specific thing that the pro people say is a plus pro skill. He's a good runner but not great, he's a good arm but not great, he's a reliable shortstop but maybe pro people may figure that his range may be a step short from where they want it to be. But we all know that a guy with more range that doesn't make the play when he gets there is useless. So somewhere along the line it's just really a different approach to the way they look at stuff. I'm still a little surprised with as much notoriety as he's gotten in the All-American realm that he's not considered of a Top 30 round draft. This is a guy that I know would walk into a short season 'A' ball or rookie league and perform well. Whether or not he could perform well enough to put him into 'AA', 'AAA' or the major leagues, I don't know. That's up to him and that's up to his performance. The pro draft is about potential and graded skill. Once you get in though, coaches take over. This is the disconnect.
The book Moneyball which is about the Oakland A's and how they did their draft one year tells you an awful lot about how the system is run and tells you an awful lot about what their management believes about the college performance player. They already know how to play, you don't have to teach them how to win, you don't have to teach them how to make a play under pressure, it's already there. Yet, most pro organizations look at these kids, even the college kids as young, green players. You'll still hear them making comments about Stephen Strasburg who played in a very good baseball league in a very good baseball area against very good baseball players but they still talk about him as if he's an infant. He has huge potential but they still talk about how much better he has to get. Well this kid is the best ever. And I get it, it's a whole different deal. It's a whole different game. You're talking about 56 games in a season compared to the 120 they play in the minor leagues or the 162 they play in a major league season. It's a pretty good grind. Guys do have to make adjustments to that but at the same time you get a little frustrated sometimes. Maybe because I don't have firsthand knowledge or firsthand experience maybe I don't have enough information to make that judgement.
But Bryan Marquez is the guy that you give him an opportunity, just like we did, he'll perform for you. Hopefully somebody out there will take what they obviously think is a risk because they're just ignoring the successes he had. It's the double-edged sword of what I deal with. The kid got All-Conference honors, two First Team All-Americans, one Second Team All-American, finalist for the Shortstop of the Year Award yet not one single organization through 30 rounds is going to take him. And he's a senior which means it's not about money. That's not holding him back. He doesn't have some agent that's demanding a million dollars. He's just a kid that's out there that's ponied up and played great baseball and just wants an opportunity. I just don't get how out of the 30 major league teams and 30 rounds, 900 plus players drafted, how he can't have been evaluated higher than that. But that's their decision so we'll see. Give him a chance to get out and play and we'll see.
Sebastien Vendette is the same type of guy, a performance guy. He'll do better against the wood bat. The big deal about pitching is that there's plenty of power pitchers like Strasburg that are out there that get hitters out through pure power. What makes him so good is that he can get you out lots of different ways. He doesn't just throw the ball 98 at you, he's got a dadgum good change and he's got an outstanding breaking ball. And he can throw strikes. He's not going to walk you, you're going to have to earn it. But guys like Sebastien are guys that will just go out and tear up the wood bat. What he does well is he keeps it off the barrel. With an aluminum bat and college defensive players he'll give up more hits in college than he will in pro ball.
bc.net: Several of the players the Aggies play against on a regular basis had pretty good drafts. Sacramento State's Tim Wheeler was picked 32nd, Tom Mendonca was picked 62nd, Tanner Scheppers was picked 44th. A lot of these guys going pretty high speaks really well for the quality of the WAC.
RW: Yeah, it's still the same old stuff. You go back to the RPI and all that stuff. Obviously we have outstanding players. Scheppers is basically sort of a first rounder, he was in the compensation draft. Kyle Bellows, the shortstop from San Jose went in the 4th round. We've consistently in the WAC developed good baseball players. You're proud of those kids. I'm happy as heck for Tom Mendonca. He was a good baseball player that was an enjoyable player to play against because he had personality. He'd talk to you. Obviously as a third base coach and him as a third baseman, most of the time you ignore each other but this guy would have a conversation with you. Alan Ahmady, the Fresno first baseman that didn't even go to the WAC tournament goes in the 10th or 11th round. Max Peterson was around that range, he was a left-handed pitcher from San Jose State. The league was pretty well represented in the Top 12 rounds. Yet, this [NM State] is a baseball team that competed right in the middle of those guys and when it mattered beat those guys in the conference tournament, even Fresno, we beat them at the beginning of the tournament. I just care about my kids getting chances and opportunities.