In this final post on J.P Ricciardi’s best moves as the Blue Jays General Manager, I will look at the player currently batting clean-up for the Jays: Adam Lind. It is a great place to end this look into the Ricciardi era, because it exemplifies one of the major decision making strategies from J.P’s time as G.M. That is, drafting polished college players in the early rounds of the amateur player draft.
Ricciardi’s drafting model was heavily influenced by his time working under Billy Beane in Oakland. This strategy is well documented in Michael Lewis’ book, Moneyball, so I won’t delve too deep here, except to say that it was primarily about minimizing risk, and financial cost. Picking high school players in the early rounds of the draft is expensive, and inherently risky. This is because players often make huge leaps, or massive falls in their progression through the minor leagues. It is very, very difficult to assess how well the abilities of an 18 year old will translate 5+ years down the line in the majors.
The main problem with avoiding high school players in the draft is that so much of the high-ceiling talent will be scooped up by other teams. Superstar talent can often be seen by a players late teens, and it shouldn’t be passed by.
Adam Lind however, is an example of a player whose star talent took a bit longer to present itself. Drafted in the 8th round (242nd overall) by the Twins in the 2002 draft, Lind decided to attend the University of South Alabama. After two solid seasons there, Lind was able to increase his draft stock by 5 rounds, all the way up to the 83rd pick.
Ever since being selected in 2004, Lind has hit professional pitching. His career minor league numbers are phenomenal:
GP 421/ AB 1591/ BA 320/ OBP 382/ SLG 512/ HR 55/ RBI 305
His career major league numbers aren’t too shabby either:
GP 537/ AB 1991/ BA 276/ OBP 326/ SLG 481/ HR 91/ RBI 317
While the last two seasons have been a dramatic rollercoaster in terms of production for Lind, it seems as though he has really settled in here in 2011. He now has a position (first base), in which he is capable of playing, and the bat has been very solid. Here are his numbers for 2011:
GP 41/ AB 159/ BA 327/ OBP 364/ SLG 572/ HR 11/ RBI 37
One of the keys to Lind’s turn around in 2011 has been his ability to hit left handed pitching. In his abhorrent 2010 campaign, Lind hit just 117/159/182 against southpaws. So far in 2011: 295/333/432.
If he continues to handle first base and lefties, Lind will be a huge part of the Blue Jays future. I am certainly optimistic, and for that, appreciative of J.P Ricciardi’s accurate evaluation of Lind back in 2004.
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