Smart, Wrong, and Lucky
Smart, Wrong, and Lucky

Smart, Wrong, and Lucky

The Origin Stories of Baseball's Unexpected Stars
By Jonathan Mayo


256 Pages, 6 x 9

Formats: Cloth, EPUB, PDF

Cloth, $28.00 (US $28.00) (NZ $38.00) (CA $38.00)

ISBN 9781629378985

Rights: WOR

Triumph Books (Jul 2023)


eBook Editions Available

Will it work on my eReader?
Price: $28.00
Google Preview
Media Copy


In the plainest of terms, baseball scouts are tasked with seeing the future—a distant future, at that. Baseball’s long developmental arc leaves room for plenty of twists and turns on the way to The Show. Some prospects shoot like arrows toward their projected potential, while others fizzle out or chart an unexpected course.

Joey Votto was a lightly scouted high schooler out of Ontario, Canada. Charlie Blackmon was once coveted for his left arm more than his offensive potential. Mookie Betts “lost interest in the draft” as he went unselected round after round. Jacob deGrom refused to relinquish his role as a shortstop. Lorenzo Cain never even put on a baseball glove until high school—and then wore it on the wrong hand.

Smart, Wrong, and Lucky explores how first impressions measure up to their aftermaths: the draft, years of progression, and for a talented few, major league success. writer Jonathan Mayo profiles a diverse range of modern stars and looks at them through the eyes of those who noticed them first as prospects.

Featuring exclusive interviews with scouts, players, coaches, and more, this fascinating collection of origin stories is an ode to baseball’s endless possibilities.


“You know the players but you don’t truly know their professional origin stories—until now. With impressive detail, Jonathan Mayo illuminates the fascinating and mysterious world of scouting. Grab a seat as Mayo takes us along scouts’ journeys to find hidden greatness. You will enjoy the ride.”
—Tom Verducci, Sports Illustrated, FOX, and MLB Network

“My favorite stories in baseball are the origin stories, the tales of players who were not necessarily projected to be stars but reached that level through their own talent and hard work—and the confidence of the scouts who saw qualities in them others did not. Jonathan Mayo has longtime relationships with those scouts. He understands their value as well as anyone in the sport. And in Smart, Wrong, and Lucky, he tells incredible stories of how they found some of the biggest stars in the game, the so-called diamonds in the rough.”
—Ken Rosenthal, Senior writer, The Athletic, and field reporter, MLB on Fox

“There are few stories more enjoyable than scouting tales of finding diamonds in the rough, and Jonathan relates some of the best from recent years. He not only details how late-round picks became superstars, but also how evaluators discerned a glimmer of their upside. Some of these players are headed to the Hall of Fame, and this book belongs there too.”
—Jim Callis, Senior Writer, MLB Pipeline

Author Biography

Jonathan Mayo has been a writer for since 1999, focusing on the MLB Draft and minor league prospects since 2003. This is his second book, having authored Facing Clemens: Hitters on Confronting Baseball’s Most Intimidating Pitcher in 2008. He lives in Pittsburgh with his wife, Sara, and has two children, Ziv and Elena.

Book Signings

Past Events

Smart, Wrong, and Lucky ›
Scottsdale, AZ
Join author Jonathan Mayo for a signing of his book, 'Smart, Wrong, and Lucky,' at The Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale, AZ.
Smart, Wrong, and Lucky ›
Homestead, PA
Join author Jonathan Mayo for a signing of his new book, 'Smart, Wrong, and Lucky,' at Golden Age Beer Company in Homestead, PA.
Smart, Wrong, and Lucky ›
Seattle, WA
Join author Jonathan Mayo for a signing of his new book, 'Smart, Wrong, and Lucky,' at Art Marble 21 in Seattle, WA.