In the old days, the MLB Draft played out over a conference call. There were no phone calls to make, and it was entirely possible players would miss hearing their own name called. Schools hoping to have their players called had to sit around a conference line, listening to a steady stream of names rattle off, one after the other, seconds after the last one was called.
In the modern day, that's changed. Drafts are more spectacle than ever before. The NFL Draft is a weekend long extravaganza playing out with fan festivals and invited guests and causes. The NBA Draft is a tradition steeped in a lottery that's made-for-primetime television, and the NHL Draft is now celebrated with players sitting in the stands waiting to be announced to receive a draft jersey.
After years in the shadows, the MLB Draft is only now starting to move forward. With the advent of new media, it's becoming more and more about publicity. With the rise of MLB Network, it can now be televised with the commissioner announcing picks live in studio. With the advent of new media, more specialized websites provide mock drafts and analysis. Names are no longer names; they're analyzed and picked apart in ways never before imagined.
For the world of baseball, that's the most radical change. Players aren't drafted to go directly into the majors, and, in fact, the rules outlaw being able to sign a player to a Major League contract. But the study of the draft is still a relatively untapped well. We've only recently started to see Mock Drafts come out of websites like Baseball America and D1Baseball, and prospecting and scouting is becoming more advanced and public thanks to sites like Perfect Game.
For that reason, there's a whole new aspect to the college baseball season. Scouts watching players becomes big news. Where a player may go is now a story, and the interest factor in watching how that develops over a season-long quest is compelling.
At Boston College, this is something that the baseball team has seen and processed. Programs like Florida State or Miami will always attract attention, but when everyone converges on Boston College, it's a new, unknown commodity. That type of pressure is something players might not want, and it's something coaches sometimes fear.
For the Eagles, however, it's something they've handled exceptionally well, especially in the case of Justin Dunn, who rose from potential sixth round pick on the second day to possibly being selected in the first 15 picks of the first round. Dunn had a good teacher last year in Chris Shaw, who was just the third Eagle ever chosen in the first round.
"(Justin) had a great role model last year in Chris Shaw," said Gambino. "We had the 'traveling road show that followed Chris Shaw last year, and it's something our boys are now used to. Chris did a great job showing Justin how to handle it, to focus and worry about this ballclub, and how that stuff will handle itself. Justin's following that lead, and he's teaching out young guys how to handle it."
It's an area of training that goes deep into fabric of the program. "There is a ton of personality with guys like Justin Dunn and Mike King," Gambino laughed. "They are both the type of kids that you want representing this program, and we have a team full of that. When they get out in front of the media, they will have fun and they'll do a great job.
"But we also spend time with them in media training throughout their career," he continued. "(Associate director of athletics communications) Zanna Ollove spends a lot of time with them doing training. They might be great with the media now, but they have to learn it and practice it. Zanna spends a lot of time with these boys and sometimes they don't always realize it until later; you see Chris Shaw now and he seems like a seasoned vet in his first year as a pro. That's something that takes time and is part of the development process that we have as part of this program.
Because players are draft eligible after their third year, the draft and subsequent negotiation period has the potential to wreak havoc all over the place. So regardless what happens, there's always a couple of things that Gambino keeps at the forefront. "First and foremost, whenever I talk to one of these guys, I make them promise that they're going to graduate," he said. "I made promises to their parents during (the recruiting process), and that's important. They all will - Andrew Chin graduated, Jeff Burke graduated, and Chris Shaw will come back and graduate.
"But (players potentially leaving early) is a good problem to have," he continued. "If you don't have draftable prospects in this conference, you aren't going to have a chance to win. Some of those guys are coming out of high school as real prospects, and some guys need to be developed. And we have guys all over this team that will get drafted, not just Justin Dunn and Mike King. Seeing scouts at Pellagrini Diamond is something that has happened and will continue to happen. What you hope is that at some point you also have kids that get drafted that have the option to come back and do."