Now that Wandy has cashed in and the Astros have signed Jose Carlos Thompson, who is a little older than most guys when they start their pro career (although his Cuban background is probably the cause), I have to ask: when is a kid too old to be a worthwhile prospect?
I first started to wonder about how teams view the age of amateur players back when it was revealed that Tejada was two years older than he claimed. I thought I understood at the time why he lied about his age. I thought that it was just a matter of how much money he would get as a signing bonus, but after reading an article, which I bet most of you have already read, at The Bleacher Report about Wandy Rodriguez, I have become confused.
There is one part of the article that goes like this:
"An 19 year old pitcher who throws 85mph will not get much attention in the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, or any other part of Latin America.
However, the pitcher can fake his age, as a 17 year old who throws 85mph is a coveted prospect.
Such was the case with Wandy Rodriguez. Rodriguez was 19 years old and threw in the mid-80s. He would have likely been looked over if he hadn't changed his identity."Is this an exaggeration? Would Wandy really not have been signed at all had he been honest about his age? Maybe there is already a post or an article floating around the Internet that explains this, but how do teams determine when an teenage amateur player is too old to be taken seriously?
If players are getting completely overlooked, then it seems that guys like Wandy and Tejada show that this thinking isn't universally true for all players. It makes sense that a younger guy is valued more and offered more money than a guy that's two years older and is at about the same level, but when that older player is only 19 or so, he still has a lot of growing and learning to do. Wandy is (and Tejada was) well worth the investment for his team even if he signed for the 17-year-old price at the old age of 19. So how do teams decide? Every person ages differently. Is there an untapped vein of players that are deemed 'too old' but could still have quality major league peaks? What happens to them? Can they be signed for far less than the 'not too old' players? Are they worth pursuing?
I know many of you know more about the scouting and signing process than I do, so I'm asking for any recommended articles or personal knowledge on the subject. I, as an Astros fan, am very glad that Wandy told that lie so that he wouldn't be overlooked.
And remember, even Yoda was wrong when he said that Luke was too old to begin his training.