Compare and contrast the experience of Philadelphia Eagles fans and Philadelphia Phillies fans when it comes to drafting players. Even though the stadiums those teams play in are across the street, the draft experience is in another universe.
In watering holes all over Philadelphia, groups of Eagles fans get together to watch guys like Mel Kiper Jr. on NFL draft day. Taverns do not do nearly as well on the first day of the baseball draft.
That’s built into the structure of the two sports because while the colleges are the minor leagues for the NFL, both high schools and colleges feed MLB players and the college game in baseball doesn’t get anywhere near the following the football game does.
That’s really too bad, because for the few college baseball junkies among us, there are quite a few good players the Phillies can grab on Thursday, the first day of the June draft. A word of advice to Phillies management: If you want to get the fanbase at least a little excited about Thursday’s draft, lean heavily on college players.
That approach might also help in injecting talent into the high levels of the minor league system, which the Phillies so desperately need right now.
While there is a debate among baseball experts on how good the highest level of college baseball is right now, there is general agreement that it is at least the quality of double-A baseball. Some college purists will even argue that the best college pitchers right now can step in and hold their own against triple-A talent, and past history tends to support that.
In any case, it’s pretty clear that even upper-level high school baseball players need a year or two of seasoning in class-A and rookie ball before being able to move up. That’s one of the reasons why the drafting of college players is the way to go, at least for the Phillies.