Baseball Book Review: Odd Man Out

I’ve decided to do something new from time to time, referring baseball products on the blog. These will include books, DVDs, and anything else that I find interesting.

While I was at the beach last week, I read a book called “Odd Man Out” by Matt McCarthy. The story is about McCarthy, a Yale graduate, selected in the 21st round by the Angels. McCarthy spent just one year in the minors, and the book is about his path through baseball, ranging from his time in college, the draft process, his time in the minor league system, and his exit from baseball.

There was a lot of very interesting insight to the behind the scenes details of baseball. A few of the details include:

-An inside look to the draft scouting process. McCarthy shares his experiences being scouted by major league teams while he was at Yale. One problem he ran in to, coming from Yale, was the question of his commitment to a baseball career.

-What happens after a player gets drafted? McCarthy details his experiences following the draft, waiting not only for his name, but for the names of two other friends who were also in the draft that year. After being selected in the 21st round he shares the signing experience, his immediate assignment to extended Spring Training, and his eventual pro assignment to rookie ball.

-The role of a lefty in the minors. McCarthy wasn’t much of a prospect, but had one thing working for him: he was a lefty. He started the season in the rotation, but was moved to the bullpen when a starter from a higher level was demoted. He was moved in and out of the rotation a few times. While in the bullpen he shares some inside experiences as a reliever, including a mythical stat called “AGI” which is short for “Almost Got In”, and occurs when a reliever is signaled to warm up, but never called in to the game.

-An inside look at the minor league clubhouse. McCarthy gives an inside look to the clubhouse, ranging from the viewpoint on top prospect Joe Saunders (who was taken in the first round that year and signed a seven figure bonus), a Latin American prospect who had a video crew documenting his path to the majors (and the coach’s reaction to this), how players help coach other players in the minors (McCarthy got some tips from Casey Kotchman on why he was giving up stolen bases on his pickoff move), and a hot topic today: steroids in the minor league clubhouse.

-The life of a minor league player. We look at baseball as a dream job, where you can make millions for just playing a game. What people don’t look at is the process that players go through to get to the majors. McCarthy does a great job giving an inside look to the life of a minor league player. The salary is $850 a month, and only is paid during the season. The living options are $150/month for an apartment, $40/night to stay in a hotel ($20 if you stay with a roommate), or living for free with a host family. There are also long bus rides, including one trip that takes 17 hours each way. Those bus rides are even longer on the way home if the team loses, as no talking is allowed when the team loses.

If you like this site, then you probably have some interest in prospects, the draft process, and the minor league system of baseball. “Odd Man Out” gives a great inside look to all of this. After reading this you’ll get a better idea of what’s going on behind the scenes in the minors. You’ll have an idea what guys like Trent Stevenson are doing in between getting signed, and getting assigned to one of the Pirates’ affiliates. You’ll see how one small moment can be make or break for a prospect’s career. Most importantly, you’ll gain more respect for the players who are living the dream in the majors, after seeing what they went through in the minors to make it to this level.

Check out “Odd Man Out” by Matt McCarthy at the link below. Also, check out Matt McCarthy’s Baseball-Reference page.

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Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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