Sometimes, you just get lost on BaseballReference.com or on MLB.com. When you google a player, you not only see who they are, you see what team they played for, and from that, you then get sidetracked to another player from that same team and so on.
This just happened to me with the MLB Draft. After looking through players and players, seeing how each went on their roads to professional baseball, my eyes stopped on one player.
Chicago White Sox' 8th round pick Casey Schroeder took an improbable path to where he is today, but the path he took was an extremely intelligent one. Without it, I'm not sure he'd be an 8th round pick...or a draft selection at all.
Three years ago, Schroeder was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 22nd round of the 2012 MLB Draft. He decided to forgo professional baseball to go to college.
Schroeder was a newly-converted catcher (from shortstop) playing for the University of Kentucky. As a freshman, Schroeder received six at bats all season. Six at bats. All season. He did the furthest thing from develop.
"I was fairly new to catching in high school, and I know I was pretty raw," Schroeder said via MLB.com. "I wanted to get to learn the position, and I didn't feel we were getting as much instruction as we needed from behind the plate. I really wanted to find someone to teach me that has been back there and has had a successful career back there."
So, Schroeder made probably the best and perhaps riskiest decision of his baseball career.
He transferred from Kentucky to Polk State College, a community college located in Winter Haven, Florida. A small college, a community college, in fact, had something that the University of Kentucky didn't. That was a catching-minded coach.
Head coach Al Corbeil spent three seasons in the Los Angeles Angels system and four more in independent league baseball. He caught a career 118 games and used his experiences to develop Schroeder further as a receiver.
Over the course of his season out at Polk, Schroeder threw out 35 percent of baserunners and allowed just one passed ball. His performance earned him Suncoast Conference defensive player of the year honors. Offensively, he was just as good, hitting .321 with three homers and 28 runs batted in.
"It was the best decision I've ever made to transfer down there," he said. "It was the best year of my life."
Schroeder turned himself into a legitimate catching prospect. He was drafted by the Oakland Athletics in the 14th round of the 2014 MLB Draft, improving his draft stock by eight rounds, even out of a small community college.
But Schroeder was not done there. Instead of signing with the Athletics, he decided to return to school. But not to Polk State College.
Catching development improved, Schroeder went back to playing Division I baseball out at Coastal Carolina to play against better talent and polish his catching tools.
He hit .230/.370/.500/.870 with 13 homers and 31 runs batted in over 174 at bats at Coastal Carolina, throwing out 32.3 percent of base runners behind the plate.
That's how he was drafted in the 8th round, a six round improvement from 2014 and a 14 round improvement from 2012.
In a way, Schroeder created his own development program.
He started at a Division I school and realized that he needed someone to work with him on his catching, spurring a move to Polk State College. Then, he wanted more exposure, going back to Division I with his newfound skills and playing against better talent to get more recognition.
The White Sox may have just picked the smartest player in this draft. Not to mention, he's a pretty good catcher too.