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Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Another setback for Milledge

Baseball Daily Digest's Craig Brown:
You have to bet on young players to improve. Particularly young players with Milledge's minor-league track record. There's no such thing as a can't-miss prospect, though, until he actually hasn't missed. I'm not saying it's a perfect comparison, but some of the things people said about the young Lastings Milledge were said about the young Corey Patterson. Like Patterson, Milledge was a first-round draft pick. Like Patterson, Milledge steamed through Class A and Double-A. Like Patterson, Milledge looked good to the scouts and the objective analysts. Like Patterson, Milledge debuted in the majors shortly after his 21st birthday. And like Patterson, Milledge struggled initially.

Patterson put together a pretty good season in the majors when he was 23; Milledge did the same at 22. But both regressed after their good seasons, and neither has played well in the majors since.

I don't mean to suggest that they failed for the same reason. I don't know why they failed (or in Milledge's case, have failed to this point). I simply mean to suggest that while any group of young players is going to improve over time, and that you'll never go broke betting on young players with exceptional track records, they do not all develop as they're "supposed" to, any more than every brilliant high-school student is a crashing success in his chosen field 10 years later.