September 12, 2016
An Agent's Take
This Is A Futures Game
Last we spoke, Carlos Asuaje was going to the Futures Game, and he had as good a showing by a client as I have ever been able to witness as an agent. This was my fourth one—Tabata in ’06, Valiquette in ’10, Pompey in ’14 and now Asuaje—and it’s always a show. It’s like a midseason winter meetings, where all 30 teams are in one building, and working and networking is part of the deal. Most importantly, Carlos had a couple hits in front of his future hometown crowd, and I got to take his family to an absinthe bar downtown.
Carlos is one of the most impressive men I have ever encountered in baseball. I was accused of selling Carlos too hard by one company; they said I acted like he was "the second coming." You now what? Too bad. I genuinely believe the guy’s a superstar in the making, I have since the day I met him, and I will believe that until the end of his career. I most certainly will believe that when I see his debut this month (fingers crossed). Nothing he does surprises me, because he works so hard. He's an incredible role model and really a wonderful player. Baseball is better for having him.
If you see a young kid with a great attitude, huge work ethic and some skill that has the potential to make him a special ballplayer, why not buy in? Why not sell that hard?
Not long before, Seth Lugo made his major-league debut. The New York Times wrote about him yesterday as a “stunning success,” but he’s been getting attention not just for his results. He’s a phenom for this particular era: He has, literally, the best RPM on his curveball, by a lot. The average RPM is allegedly 2,500; Seth’s curveball goes 1,000 RPM higher. Mike Petriello wrote about this at MLB.com: Lugo’s 3,498 RPM curve is the hardest ever recorded by Statcast, and he has thrown 25 of the 30 highest-RPM curveballs ever.
Seth’s a guy. He’s a former 34th-round pick out of a small school, but he’s always been a guy. I’ve written before how much makeup means to me when it comes to signing clients, and Seth’s makeup was there way before we were measuring his curveball spin. He’s the only player to live with my mother during the season. (Seriously!)
But just because I love a guy doesn’t guarantee he’s going to get to the majors, or that he’s going to succeed. A few years ago, I wrote about Seth, Tyler White, and Bryton Trepagnier. I loved all three. “Despite all the analytics and scouting measures in use by smart organizations, guys still fall through the cracks, and its those guys I absolutely love working for. Getting in on the ground floor with kids like that is what I live for,” I wrote. Now fast-forward to today: I don’t work for White anymore. (It happens.) Trepagnier got hurt, which was terrible. (It happens.) But Lugo is Lugo, which is all I ever wanted him to be. Betting on late-round grinders is probably the most fulfilling part of this job, and moments like this—when a guy’s on the cusp—are what we work for.
Cool career moment: Postgame in Florida, after Seth had a rough outing against the Marlins, we went to a restaurant with his family to talk. The game was being rebroadcast on the television. I’m sitting next to my client, watching him watch himself—watching him watch the worst version of himself. He begins to shout quotes from Major League at the TV, and I nearly died laughing. Then he gets up in the middle of the restaurant and starts tooling around with his mechanics, figuring out what he was doing wrong. Not one person realized that the guy in the middle of the restaurant was the guy on the TV.
It’s been a joy to watch as the Mets have really leaned on him down the stretch, moving him from low-leverage relief work to the starting rotation. He’s made five starts now. Four were quality starts, and in the fifth he didn’t allow a run at all in five innings. As of now, Seth is 4-1. He won Sunday, on 9/11 pitching for New York. He handled the spotlight as well as anyone. I’m excited to see which spotlight he finds himself in next, especially with the Mets closing the wild card gap.
If you want a reason to root for the Mets to make the playoffs, he’s one. I really hope he gets a shot to pitch in the postseason on a big stage so everyone can see how good he is. When you see a player in the majors, he’s not just a ballplayer; he’s somebody that dozens of people along the way believed in and invested in.