For more than a century, baseball scouts have prospected for pitchers who throw high-speed strikes and athletes who could run fast and see well. Those talents are now even more valuable, contend scouts and veteran baseball men such as Giants third-base coach Tim Flannery, a former Padres infielder and coach. Flannery's reasoning, spelled out here last summer and shared by many scouts, is that footspeed and overall athleticism are gaining value as steroid use declines amid testing and increased penalties for violations.The rest of the article is Smith talking about the Padres' acquisitions from Latin America. That's fine as far as it goes, but the whole intro to the story makes no sense to me. Is it really true that teams weren't scouting for speed and athleticism during the steroid days? Sure, the slow, powerful guys got a lot of press back then, but every team had way more toolsy guys in their system than patient sluggers, and I'm guessing that's always been the case.
. . . The Padres, by contrast, aren't known to emphasize those talents to the same degree. For most of this decade and even now, the San Diego farm system draws criticism, fairly or not, for an alleged dearth of power pitching and athleticism. The recent efforts of the Padres' Latin American program, however, offer encouragement to franchise veteran Randy Smith. “We are getting a bit better but still have room to improve,” he said.
But even if we go with the article's assumptions, wouldn't it follow that teams should increase their efforts at finding legitimate power bats rather than speedy guys? Now that steroids are allegedly gone, aren't those guys more rare and thus, by definition, more valuable?