For the right-thinking baseball enthusiast — as opposed to the dour and glum, Patrick Dubuque kind — the great charm of the game is in what the author has called The Art of the Possible. While the past and present confine us to the mundanity of fact, the future allows us to contemplate the possibility of what-might-be — hyphenated just like that, as if it were translated directly from an important European philosopher. “Facci sognare!” (“Make us dream!”) the fans of certain Italian football clubs demand. “Facci sognare” perhaps certain readers, also, ask (more quietly than Italian people) of the game of baseball.
One great medium for the contemplation of the possible is prospect analysis. Prospect analysis is, essentially, an attempt to sketch roughly the landscape of Baseball Future. That the MVPs of the 2032 season have been born is quite likely. That their precise identities (i.e. the ones of those future MVP winners) are currently known, however, is distinctly unlikely. One objective of prospect analysis is to hold a developing player up to the light of experience and reason and ask, “Is this the future MVP?” And: “Is this him, maybe?”
If there’s a weakness among the otherwise entirely useful body of work produced by the baseball community regarding minor-league players, etc., it’s a preoccupation with “facts” — as opposed, that is, to estimates regarding what pleasures this or that prospect might be capable of eliciting in the mind, say, of a bespectacled and extravagantly educated 32-year-old sitting in his apartment in Madison, Wisconsin.
With a view towards filling this vacuum in the literature, I propose a new subgenre within prospect analysis. Indeed, what we need regarding prospects is what German filmmaker and relentless ubermensch Werner Herzog has called “ecstatic truth” — a term which defies easy explanation, but which Herzog has described as “a searching for truth beyond the facts and much deeper than facts.”
What, precisely, does Ecstatic Truth Prospect Analysis look like? “I have no idea,” is my only answer — nor do I anticipate knowing by the end of this post. However, just this morning, I’ve become acquainted with a right-hander in the Arizona system named Chase Anderson and have been stirred. To that end, I have pieced together what follows — i.e. a sort of incomplete prototype for Ecstatic Truth Prospect Analysis.
Chase Anderson, RHP, Arizona
DOB: 11/30/1987 Height/Weight: 6-1/170
Notable Achievements: Is currently atop the infallible SCOUT pitching leaderboard for the Arizona Fall League. Was also near the top of the SCOUT pitching leaderboards for the Double-A Southern League in 2012 — between more highly prized prospects Danny Hultzen (Seattle) and Tyler Skaggs (also Arizona).
Scouting Report: Anderson’s changeup is capable of producing a moment of what Brazilian pedagogue Paulo Freire called conscientização within the spectator — a flash of realization for the oppressed that the means for liberation are wholly within his control. Witnesses also report a heightened awareness of (and ability to detect) the inherent contradictions of social and political organizations — and, not unlike John Travolta in 1996’s Phenomenon, a complete and unfettered understanding of the Portuguese language.