There is a war raging between professional and college baseball, and it is reaching its peak this week, as the College World Series—which has mushroomed in popularity—concludes in Omaha. The professional draft, in which teams claim amateur players also sought by the colleges, began on Monday, the fourth day of the world series. Last year, the University of Miami was able to hold on to the Brewers' No. 1 pick, pitcher Alex Fernandez. On the other hand, Mississippi State failed to keep the Expos from luring pitcher Reid Cornelius—an 11th-round pick—with a bonus of more than $200,000.
"Until people in pro ball consider us equals in terms of developing players, there will always be hard feelings." says Mike Roberts, the baseball coach at North Carolina. "Because pro teams have gotten so good at signing high school players from the fifth to the tenth rounds, the level of play in college baseball is not what it was five years ago."
Pro people think too many college coaches emphasize winning instead of the players' development. Pitchers are overused, for example, and small players with no power may spend their college careers as outfielders, a position they will never play in the big leagues.
Partly as a result, few college coaches receive serious consideration from the pros as potential managers. One exception is Long Beach State's Dave Snow, who says he has had talks with a few major league teams. Snow turned around Loyola Mary-mount from 23 victories in 1984 to 50 in '86. He took the Long Beach job last June, and the 49ers, who won 14 games a year ago, have won 50 and were among the eight teams that made the College World Series. "He's the best on the West Coast—maybe in the entire country," says one pro scouting director. "Most college coaches don't develop players. Snow does."
GASTON AT LAST
Blue Jay players strongly applauded the selection of Cito Gaston as Toronto's manager last week. "One way to go is to bring in someone who would rant and rave, another is to try to work with what we have," says pitcher Mike Flanagan. In other words, Gaston will try to manage around the lack of fundamentals that many Toronto players brought with them to the majors.
Gaston was not the first choice of club management, of course. He may not even have been the second or third. The Blue Jays failed to persuade the Yankees to release Lou Piniella from his contract, and they met similar difficulties when they approached other candidates. At least two other teams wouldn't let the Jays talk to members of their coaching staffs during the season.
Such resistance is becoming common. After the Mariners fired Dick Williams last year, they wanted to talk to then A's hitting coach Jim Lefebvre, but the A's denied them permission and Seattle had to wait until after the season ended to hire him....
The reconstruction of the Phillies continued when they shipped Chris James to the Padres on June 2 for John Kruk and Randy Ready, giving the Padres much-needed help at third base. The Phillies have let it be known that they will trade anyone, including rightfielder Von Hayes (who can become a free agent at the end of the year) and centerfielder Juan Samuel. "They don't want to trade Steve Bedrosian," says one G.M. "But he's wilting away there [seven save opportunities in two months], he's their most marketable player and come July he could mean the pennant for the Giants, Royals, Expos or Angels."...
Texas outfielder/DH Scott Bryant was voted the college player of the year by the American Baseball Coaches Association after knocking in 107 runs in 68 games, but his future may be as a pitcher. "He's got a dominant closer's arm," says one scout. "He could make it quick as a pitcher." Bobby Thigpen was a slugging outfielder (in the shadow of Will Clark and Rafael Palmeiro) at Mississippi State but was drafted in 1985 solely as a pitcher....