Kyler Murray's Dilemma Is Exposing MLB's Prospect Problems
It's good to be Kyler Murray in 2019. Now finished with College, the 21-year old has a professional decision to make unlike--well, pretty much any other.
Baseball or football? Oh, the dilemma.....
The headlines this weekend on almost every website of note screamed "Murray Declares for the NFL Draft", "Murray Chooses the NFL over MLB"....and actually only one of them is correct.
The reigning College Football Heisman Trophy winner declared he wants to enter the NFL draft for one really big reason.
He had to by Monday in order to be eligible for the 2019 Draft. Which isn't to say he's made a decision to go one way or the other---it only means he's exploring ALL of his options.
The decision couldn't have sat well with the Oakland A's who drafter Murray 9th in 2018's Major League Baseball Draft and gave him a contract flush with a $4.66 million signing bonus. The A's also allowed Murray to play his final season of football with the Oklahoma Sooners.
Murray proceeded to have a nearly unprecedented season, throwing for 4,300+ yards and 42 TD's while running for 1,000 more and adding 12 Rushing TD's.
However, for all his success in football, Murray has some rather large issues to overcome if he were to play in the NFL.
The biggest---his size. At roughly 5-9, 190 or so pounds, as a QB, he'd be by far the smallest person to play the position since probably the 1950's. The NFL, more than any other sport participates in total and complete "Groupthink" when it comes to assessing prospects.
No Professional sport obsesses over the physical characteristics of the players than the NFL. None. Quarterbacks almost always need to be 6-2 or taller, 200-plus pounds with big hands and technically near perfect release points.
There is nothing to compare with the incredibly creepy NFL Draft Combine in Indianapolis where grown men talk and compare physical size and strength of the prospects and use that to project their success.
It's even worse among the "Draft Experts" and writers who sit there and find ways to pick apart the young men participating by finding reasons or excuses why they will NOT be a success or issues from age 15 where they did or said something 15-year olds say or do without understanding the repercussions of their actions.
Which makes the NFL a bit of a crapshoot. Particularly for someone like Murray who has otherworldly passing and running skills and a good head on his shoulders. He checks "Almost" all the boxes for an NFL QB except for size. He fits the growing trend of "Run, Pass Option" offenses which are becoming the rage in a league where they play follow the leader every year.
There are countless examples of QB's who looked the part of a big, strong NFL Football player who threw a pretty spiral and spiraled right out of the league with barely a whisper. More than I can mention here. And it will take an adventurous team, or the New England Patriots to give Murray a shot knowing he could still end up never playing football.
The path to Major League Baseball success is even harder. It's less subjective when it comes to physical appearance because in reality, how you look will have nothing to do with baseball stardom. You can either hit a small ball thrown at 95 mph and moving all over the place....or you can't. Bottom line.
But MLB owners have a problem. A BIG problem and one that Kyler Murray is bringing to the surface.
The problem is a system set up to have prospects toil in obscurity for less than a pittance for sometimes several years before getting a taste of Major League success.
And even then, that success won't translate to a multi-million dollar contract for nearly a decade as things like "Arbitration Years" last for the first three seasons in the game and that's AFTER spending a couple seasons learning the game in the Minors. The only shot at long term financial success is getting a "Long-Term" deal before his arbitration years end, which rarely ever happens.
Yeah, sure he's got his signing bonus which is great. But it pales in comparison to his NFL earning potential where contracts---while not fully guaranteed, these days come at least partially so. And the earning potential grows each season he's on an NFL roster.
I get it, baseball is a hard game to master and the system is set-up differently than baseball. The NFL doesn't have a "Farm System" for players to go learn their craft before stepping up to the big club. MLB does.
Look at it this way---why does Baseball need to have that system for ALL of its players? Why does a 1st round pick have to learn in the Minors?? Put him on the baseball field and see what he can do. He may fail, he may take awhile to learn the game, but that's how the NFL does it.
Football players often have to learn on the fly, during the season and for many rookies, you can see the game slow down for them on a weekly basis. They make mistakes but it is understood those may happen.
Baseball has 162 games in a Major League season, why not give a kid some time to see if they can handle playing in "The Show"??? I know the answer to that question---it's the answer baseball old-timers always quote: "It's the way things have always been done". That statement is used so many times in so many aspects of our daily lives that it just makes me shake my head.
The only way to evolve, the only way to compete is to change and grow and adapt to try staying ahead of the curve.
For Major League Baseball, if they don't figure this out soon, they'll never get the "Premiere" athletes, they'll never get a Kyler Murray to play for them.
And that's unfortunate because while they NFL is a game based on physicality and size and speed, Baseball will always be a game of beauty and slow exposition.
There's room for that in today's world, as long as you're willing to adjust to today's rules.
Your turn Major League Baseball. The ball is in your court.