OBSERVATIONS, insinuations, ruminations and unvarnished opinions . . .
John Kruk was a relatively little guy - 5-10, 170 - when he was drafted twice In the third round in 1981, first in the defunct January special phase by the Pirates, then in the defunct June secondary phase by the Padres. He signed with the Padres.
Even when he was point-guard size - and, yes, Krukker was a slick point guard at Keyser HS in West Virginia. I used to know a guy who was a Kruk teammate and he said John was Division I material.
But Kruk had a body by Kroc. That would be Padres owner Ray Kroc, who added immeasurably to the national avoirdupois by founding McDonald's.
After all, lady, John wasn't gonna be an athlete, he was gonna be a ballplayer.
And he was every inch a ballplayer, even when he was playing first base for the Phillies in a body better suited for one of those padded-suit rodeo clowns.
Anthony Hewitt is 6-1, 190, just about the same size he was when the Phillies made him the 24th pick overall in the 2008 draft. They gave him $1.4 million to pass up a ride to Vanderbilt and sent him to the bushes to see if he could use that immense power to become the next Dick Allen.
Hewitt has a body that should have been sculpted by a Renaissance genius under contract to a pope. Hewitt's physique is Louvre-worthy.
He is 22 now. And Anthony has not been able to get out of full-season Class A. He is repeating Lakewood. For some reason unsupported by numbers, he even made the Sally League All-Star Game.
Anthony works his butt off. His power is undeniable. When he runs into a fastball, his home runs are prodigious. He runs with uncommon speed and acceleration. From a defensive sieve at third base, the former prep-school shortstop has become a fleet, rifle-armed rightfielder, who outruns most of his mistakes.
When John Kruk, Hewitt's physical opposite, was 22 he batted .341 in the Double A Texas League. He lashed 170 hits, 41 of them doubles, drove in 88 runs. He played outfield then and played it well. He even pitched five scoreless innings in three games that season.
John Kruk was a ballplayer, lady. He just didn't look like one.
At 22, Anthony Hewitt is the minor league Rob Deer.
His 13 homers and 34-for-39 stolen-base ratio have been offset by a .233 BA, a .271 OBP, .396 SLP and .667 OPS. He has struck out 142 times in 417 at-bats, a daunting 1-in-2.94 ratio. His four-season BA is .216, his 432 Ks in 1207 ABs comes to a 1-in-2.79 whiff rate.
But Wednesday night at Delmarva, he misread a line drive and outran his mistake with a diving catch.
If the 22-year-old Kruk of 1983 and today's Hewitt were put in a lineup and you were asked to point out the athlete, you might say, "Well, it sure as hell ain't that cabdriver."
So, if you've got $1.4 million invested in what is fast becoming a scouting mistake, you keep on keeping on. But do you give up a spot on your 40-man when it's time? Do you expose him to the Rule 5 draft and risk a club flipping the right switch and buying a latent talent for $50,000?
Do you send him to yet another Florida Instructional League and start the lecture: "OK, one more time . . . This is a breaking ball. Try to pick up the spin, wait on it and hit that sumbitch . . . "
Gene Mauch used to say, "Baseball is the easiest game there is to play . . . If you have the ability to play it."
It is rarely an acquired art. Ask one of history's greatest athletes, some guy named Michael Jordan. MJ was betrayed by his lack of bat speed. The same instincts that made him the greatest basketball player of all time were absent when a baseball hurtled at him with a bend in it.
To 22-year-old John Kruk, a ballplayer with Body by Kroc, the words of Stan Musial, The Man's famous eight-word explanation of why he was a great hitter, rang true: "I see the ball, I hit the ball."
To 22-year-old Anthony Hewitt, whose body is on loan from the Louvre, those simple words must seem like Greek.
Despite his offensive struggles, Anthony Hewitt plays rightfield in what could be the fastest minor league outfield in Phillies history. Hewitt, centerfielder Zach Collier and leftfielder Bill Rice have been a nightly highlight reel the past month for the Lakewood BlueClaws. Using speed each has in the 6.5 neighborhood for 60 yards, they are where gappers go to die. With one out in the bottom of the ninth Tuesday night, a runner on first and Lakewood clinging to a 3-0 lead, Shorebirds catcher Joe Oliveira cranked a drive to deep left that had homer written on it.
Rice raced back, back, back, leaped and caught the ball as he crashed into the fence. He came down firing in the direction of second baseman Carlos Alonso. The runner had broken for second and Alonso doubled him off first for a game-ending doubleplay. The Claws' fleet outfield trio seems to make a couple of plays like that almost every game.
Add fleet outfielder/designated hitter Miguel Alvarez and Lakewood could field a formidable 4 x 100 meters relay team. As could the Clearwater/Williamsport quartet of Jiwan James, Kyrell Hudson, Peter Lavin and Aaron Altherr, four more flyers.
The player who held the modern career home-run record before Babe Ruth used to be one of the tough trivia questions. But Googling Phillies rightfielder Gavvy Cravath was no problemo.
So, on to this week: What were the nicknames of major league pitchers Dick Hall, Burt Hooton and Paul Dean?