One of the things that does seem radically different, however, are the stories involving how talent was identified at the time. Be it Mordecai Brown coming up in the Indiana miner leagues (not a typo) or the bidding war that led to Rube Marquard's signing (someone would have spotted him five or six years before the Giants signed him and would have had him under contract when he was 18), you get the sense that today's teams are much more organized and deliberate when it comes to spotting prospects, and that you're never going to find some diamond in the rough toiling in an independent league.
But then you read about Yankees' reliever Scott Patterson, and you realize that there is still a place in baseball for the random and the unexpected, even if that place is much smaller than it was a century ago:
Patterson is here because of his overwhelming success as a relief pitcher, first for the Lancaster Barnstormers of the Atlantic League and the Gateway Grizzlies of the Frontier League. His acumen for the bullpen earned him a spot with the Yankees’ Class AA affiliate in 2006, but it would never have happened without a freak injury.
“I stubbed my finger in a door at my host family’s house in Lancaster,” Patterson said. “They brought me back slowly and said, ‘Could you work out of the pen?’ It was my first time ever doing that, and I just let it go for an inning. I was up to 90, 91, 92 miles an hour, and I was like, This could be good; let me stay here for a little bit.”
Even if Patterson doesn't make the big club out of camp, I'm pleased to see surprises like him continue to pop up in this over analyzed age.