Michael Lewis, who wrote Moneyball, has a nice piece in the New York Times illustrating the principles behind his book:
He finished his career at Notre Dame with the third-most hits in N.C.A.A. history, the second-highest batting average and the most stolen bases ever at Notre Dame, and he led his team, in 2002, to its first College World Series appearance in 45 years. Notre Dame’s baseball coach, Paul Mainieri, called him the finest defensive center fielder and the ”winningest” position player he’d encountered in his 20 years as a college coach. Still, as Stanley entered the market for professional baseball players, his value appeared to collapse. Baseball scouts looked at him and saw a body unlike any in the big leagues. Scouts from two major-league teams told Stanley that, if he was lucky, he might be selected in the 15th round of the ’02 draft, which is to say he’d be handed a thousand bucks, a plane ticket and a recommendation letter that told everyone in baseball not to pay him any mind. A scout from one big-league team told Coach Mainieri that his team couldn’t draft his star center fielder at all, for fear of embarrassment.
But in June 2002, the Oakland A’s shocked a lot of people, including Stanley, and took him as their second-round pick — the 67th of 1,482 players drafted that year.
and succeeded well enough to be promoted, in 2003, to the Double-A team in Midland, Tex., where he made the all-star team. Heading into spring training in 2004, Steve Stanley was named the starting center fielder in Triple-A Sacramento, one rung below the major leagues. ”That almost never happens,” Keith Lieppman, who runs the Oakland farm system, says. ”That we get a guy who starts in high A, goes straight to Double-A and then to Triple-A without a pause. You just don’t see it.”