Ford: MLB Stock Watch
Plunked down in a poor neighborhood of Jakarta is a small, neglected baseball stadium — its bases small boulders and its pitcher's mound a pile of elephant manure. You won't find it in any guide book — indeed, I only stumbled across it while searching for a cure for the herpes I contracted at a local bathhouse — but Hewlett-Packard Field is home to the greatest prospect in all of baseball: a 6'11" pitcher named Shay Raharjo.
The trip to Indonesia took 18 weeks through five continents (including riding upon a cheetah-pulled sled across the Sahara), but not even my weariness or recent emergence from an Ebola coma (stranded in Mongolia at the foot of the Himalayas during the worst blizzard since Nepal's Shah dynasty, my guide perished from frostbite, and to survive I feasted on his infected flesh — but that's for another time) could conceal how effortlessly Raharjo was destroying opposing hitters. Starting all three games of a triple-header, the hurler struck out 48, walked none and allowed two hits. Not even Darko Milicic was this impressive back in Montenegro as he dodged shrapnel on his way to a quintuple-double in 1999.
Several Major League Baseball scouts have quickly scurried to Indonesia to check out Raharjo after hearing tale of my experience with the young lefty. All of them report being similarly impressed by his arm. "The best young pitcher I've seen since Nolan Ryan," reported one. "Randy Johnson should start buying Clearasil in bulk again," said another, "Because this kid will destroy his legacy." All spoke highly of his poise — he is only 14-years-old — and proclaimed him "the closest we've ever come to a sure thing."
Indonesia is also home to the likely number one pick of the 2008 NBA Draft: IM Panasonic guard Herdian Mohammed, who plays like a combination of Tony Parker, Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming. That Indonesia could produce the number one picks in both the MLB and NBA drafts is nothing short of miraculous, and would be a huge emotional and economic boon to its inhabitants, who are still recovering from the tsunami disaster. Indeed, I personally told many Indonesians of their country's upcoming good fortune, and all were absolutely delighted at the news, many thanking me with free meals, jewelry and sex.
As an NBA reporter, it isn't often that I get to venture onto the field of dreams, but considering the success of my first foray — which netted a top pick and four new wives — consider me a convert to the diamond. Look for my first complete, 50-round mock draft in the next week. Go Darko!
Chad Ford is a columnist for E$PN.com