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Weekend Column: Ranking the Scouting Directors

Since I’m without baseball once again today, here’s a fun look at where I rank the scouting departments, taking into consideration the fact that a few scouting directors haven’t even had a draft yet. These rankings are based on the entire drafting process, including the resources and effective use of resources of each department. Departments don’t have to be given a large amount of resources, but effectively using what you’re given should be priority number one.

Here are the rankings with their scouting director listed and small writeups on each:

1. San Francisco Giants, John Barr: I couldn’t be more impressed with what Barr and company have done in their two years in office. They’ve been given their fair share of money to spend, but they put on a show with the 15th-largest budget in the 2009 draft, getting four players that were considered first round talents at one point or another. It was an easy decision to put them at the top.
2. Baltimore Orioles, Joe Jordan: Jordan’s a little controversial to some, but he gets results. He was able to sign a high volume of talent, has a proven track record, and he also has the support of his front office. He also carries more sway in his front office than most scouting directors do, a testament to his success. This was another easy choice behind Barr.
3. Tampa Bay Rays, R.J. Harrison: The AL East is going to get much tougher than it already is, and you’ll see that in my rankings. Having two of the top three doesn’t hurt. Harrison is the quintessential example of how to draft with a plan. He knows the players that fit into the Rays’ development program, and he drafts those players. The department goofed up a little by not signing LeVon Washington and Kenny Diekroeger, but that was a blip on the radar of their enormous success. He’d be number one without that slip-up.
4. Colorado Rockies, Bill Schmidt: Know what I said about the AL East? Add the NL West to that. Having two of the top four should make things interesting in a division that always seems to be pretty competitive. Schmidt is the longest-tenured scouting director for a reason. He’s pretty much responsible for the success the Rockies have had late in the decade. On top of that, he probably had the top draft bar none in 2009, moving him up a number of spots.
5. Detroit Tigers, David Chadd: This one’s going to surprise some people. Chadd has had a very solid run as scouting director in Detroit, and that’s largely gone under the radar. He’s added star power in Cameron Maybin, Rick Porcello, and Jacob Turner, but also added in solid contributors and trade bait in Clete Thomas, Matt Joyce, Casper Wells, Burke Badenhop, Andrew Miller, Ryan Strieby, Scott Sizemore, etc. He’s been very successful, and that’s been part of the reason why Detroit has stayed so competitive.
6. Pittsburgh Pirates, Greg Smith: The days of the cheap Pittsburgh Pirates are over. Greg Smith, formerly of Detroit, came aboard as Neal Huntington’s scouting director in 2008, and he’s run two excellent drafts thanks to large budgets and taking advantage of good situations in later rounds. The core of the next competitive Pirates team has been drafted by Smith, and people will start realizing his shrewd drafting in a few years.
7. New York Yankees, Damon Oppenheimer: Despite setbacks with Gerrit Cole and Scott Bittle in 2008, the Yankees have had very successful drafts under Oppenheimer, filling their roster and giving general manager Brian Cashman plenty of chips to trade. The weaker system right now isn’t due to Oppenheimer’s failures, as he’s drafted plenty of talent, but more due to graduations and trades.
8. Oakland Athletics, Eric Kubota: Kubota has plenty of years under his belt, and he’s been a major part of the reason that Oakland has had such good farm systems in recent years. Granted, general manager Billy Beane has restocked with trades, but Kubota’s drafts have also been very productive. They find solid talent in every crevice, and I give Kubota a lot of credit for trusting his scouts.
9. Los Angeles Dodgers, Tim Hallgren: This higher ranking is due to the fact that Logan White still oversees Hallgren and company, but Hallgren himself has had very successful drafts. He’s responsible for most of the top talent in the farm system right now, despite only having three drafts under his belt. His 2009 draft was also very good considering he didn’t pick until the supplemental first round, netting an excellent pitching prospect in Aaron Miller.
10. Minnesota Twins, Deron Johnson: Johnson pretty much inherited an excellent drafting and developing system in Minnesota, and he’s done a solid job of keeping it going. They’re never going to be known for drafting flashy names, but they get talent that actually produces. Getting Kyle Gibson so late in 2009 was an absolute steal, and they always add in solid arms in later rounds. Only a lack of balance hinders a higher ranking.
11. Cincinnati Reds, Chris Buckley: I’m much more bullish on Buckley and the Reds than a lot of places, and that’s due to Buckley’s balance in his drafts. He adds big talent, but it’s balanced between high-ceiling and high-floor talent, and also between pitching and hitting. He finds hitters pretty much everywhere, and he’s found solid pitching, too. He’s run some excellent drafts, but the lack of high-impact talent keeps him from the top ten.
12. Seattle Mariners, Tim McNamara: Whoever legendary former scouting director Jack Zduriencik picks as his scouting director gets my automatic approval, though not a guaranteed top ten ranking. McNamara only has a single draft under his belt, but it included getting an excellent hitter in Dustin Ackley, along with a number of solid talents, though there was almost no pitching involved. He could be higher next year.
13. Boston Red Sox, Amiel Sawdaye: Sawdaye comes in first for the new scouting directors, mainly I believe in the group around him. He was the assistant for former scouting director Jason McLeod, and I expect more of the same when it comes to excellent drafting. However, I just can’t put him higher until I see the results of his labor this draft season, so this is a fairly generous ranking.
14. Los Angeles Angels, Tony Reagins: This is much higher than Reagins would have come in a year ago. However, it’s looking more and more like the Angels are committed to a draft and develop program that was a lacking before. They’re signing their players, adding real talent, and Reagins has been the head of the turnaround. If they revert to old ways, though, he’ll drop quickly.
15. Houston Astros, Bobby Heck: Heck has spearheaded a new way of drafting with the Astros, a team that would have been dead last in my rankings two years ago. He’s moving up this list quickly, and I like his unique system of finding live arms through private workouts. He needs to work on finding solid hitters, but with a couple more successful drafts, he could be the best drafter for arms beyond the first round.
16. Cleveland Indians, Brad Grant: I think Grant is definitely somewhere in the middle of the pack. His drafts are solid, but never excellent or bad. He gets solid first-round players, but the rest are mainly unproven or still have a ways to go. A lot of where his ranking might be a year from now is where Alex White goes from here, as well as where his 2010 draft heads.
17. Milwaukee Brewers, Bruce Seid: Seid was in a great position in his first year as scouting director last year, having three extra picks. He also was in a solid position to build on success, having moved up after being Zduriencik’s national crosschecker. His first draft was solid, but I’m in a wait-and-see pattern here, as I’d like to see what kind of draft he runs without so many extra picks.
18. San Diego Padres, Jeron Madison: Madison is also a first-time scouting director, and I also think he’ll do just fine based on his work under good scouting directors and his new front office, all Boston transplants, including former scouting director Jason McLeod. I don’t think he’ll necessarily be as successful as Sawdaye in Boston, mainly because he has to adjust to new bosses and his budget likely won’t be as large.
19. Kansas City Royals, J.J. Picollo: Picollo had a very solid first draft, but I generally don’t like it when a scouting director is also the head of player development, and that’s what Picollo is. He has good people on the scouting side, but with only a single draft under his belt, I’m reluctant to move him into the top half, as he had to spend a lot to get three good players and very low-ceiling guys after that.
20. Arizona Diamondbacks, Tom Allison: Allison had the benefit of a lot of extra picks last year, and most of the Arizona drafts in years before that were not very productive. However, I like what he did last year, making the most with a limited budget and a large number of picks. Let’s see how he does this year, as he could move up by ten spots.
21. Chicago Cubs, Tim Wilken: I know Cub fans are very loyal to Wilken, while others are very critical of him. I fall somewhere in the middle. He does a good job, but there are some holes that have been formed in their system due to a lack of balance. They haven’t gotten big production from their picks, but they haven’t picked at the top of the draft much, so we’ll see what happens. He’s experienced, and he’s not one of the worst by any means.
22. Philadelphia Phillies, Marti Wolever: Wolever looks for a particular type of player that fits into their player development mold, but I wonder if he leaves some on the table. He’s very much a risk v. reward type of director, going for risky arms and bats, hoping that some will stick. That’s worked for a few players, but they generally have a tough time getting surefire production. Anthony Hewitt is the best example of that.
23. Florida Marlins, Stan Meek: Meek’s really down here because of the Marlins’ lack of a budget for his drafting. They stick to slot more than most, and while they get good production from unlikely places, they don’t always get production from the people they should. I liked their pick at the top in 2009, Chad James, but beyond that, I just didn’t like the other names. Meek has a lot of experience, and I like his talent evaluation, but there’s more to being a scouting director than that.
24. St. Louis Cardinals, Jeff Luhnow: I’m starting to get down to teams whose draft strategy I just don’t like. Though I like Luhnow, I don’t necessarily like the way his drafts have been going. He capitalized on Shelby Miller falling to him last year, and Robert Stock looks solid so far, but his drafts have just been horrible for results, and the players he gets are either low-ceiling or high-bust rate.
25. Texas Rangers, Kip Fagg: I find it tough to put the Rangers down here, as they’re known for their farm system. However, with Fagg being in the director’s chair for the first time, and their general lack of truly hitting on picks beyond the first round lately, I’m not sure about their drafting future. Fagg could easily move up to the top 15 next year, but there’s just not the precedent for success that there is in Boston and San Diego for those first-time directors.
26. Atlanta Braves, Tony DeMacio: It pains me to do this, because I would pretty much model my scouting department after the Braves’ scouting department of the ‘90s if I was in a director’s chair. DeMacio is a first-time director as a Brave (he ran 6 drafts with Baltimore), and I don’t like the trend that 2009 showed in Roy Clark’s last draft with Atlanta. Are they going to go cheap again in 2010?
27. Washington Nationals, Kris Kline: This is another spot that is purely for the question marks. Kline is a first-time director with a lot to prove, and a lot of his ranking next year will be based on having a number one pick, even though I’m not sure he’ll be a major voice in who they pick. It will take some time to see if Kline is truly a successful scouting director, simply because most of his budget will be at the top of the draft.
28. Toronto Blue Jays, Andrew Tinnish: Another first-time director, I put Tinnish below the other first-timers, mainly because of the lack of scouting infrastructure that was in place before he was promoted. No matter what he does, the huge number of scouts that were hired will create some first-year hiccups, and we’ll see how well Tinnish takes advantage of all the extra picks.
29. Chicago White Sox, Doug Laumann: Laumann’s only down here because of his lack of resources, along with the fact that he’s already been fired from this job once by Ken Williams. He takes some risky players, though he’s had some good success, but this department will always be low to me until they get some resources. Sorry Doug.
30. New York Mets, Rudy Terrasas: I have to go with the director that was almost on the chopping block at the end of season in 2009. Terrasas is in a difficult predicament, having few resources and picking hit-or-miss players, making his job even more difficult. The few resources he’s given are sometimes wasted on players that have no future as Major League players. For that reason, he gets the last spot on the list.

All these rankings aren’t a reflection of the scouts, or even the directors, and their ability to be great judges of talent. There are great, world-class scouts and crosscheckers in every organization. This is simply a snapshot at where departments are now, and where they’re headed.

March 13, 2010 Posted by | Weekend Column | 15 Comments

Weekend Column: Justin Grimm Video

I shot around a half hour of video yesterday at the Georgia-Stetson matchup, and the majority of that is on my computer waiting for some editing. The only real ready-for-showing video is now uploaded here. As you can see, it has HD quality if you choose to watch it at that level. Please forgive the shaky quality of the camera work, as it was my first time out with the camera, I was incredibly cold, and saying it was windy was an understatement. Every fly ball was a battle for the fielders, and filming became that much harder. I’ll have plenty of later video on Grimm, so I’m not worried about this week’s action as much as getting good stuff later. More video footage will be posted later on in the week as I have time to edit.

Enjoy this 3 minute clip of Grimm warming up before yesterday’s outing. It’s always fun to listen to The Who in the background.

February 27, 2010 Posted by | Weekend Column | 1 Comment

Weekend Column: Friday Night Starters

Here’s a quick recap of how the Friday starters of college baseball fared yesterday.

Taylor Jungmann, Texas, 2011: 7 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 8 SO against New Mexico
Anthony Ranaudo, LSU, 2010:
5 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 6 SO against Centenary
Danny Hultzen, Virginia, 2011: 6 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 4 SO against East Carolina
Seth Blair, Arizona State, 2010: 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 SO against Northern Illinois
Taylor Wall, Rice, 2011: 3 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 3 SO against Stanford
Deck McGuire, Georgia Tech, 2010: 7 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 10 SO against Missouri State
Tommy Toledo, Florida, 2010: 3.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 SO against South Florida
Steven Maxwell, TCU, 2010: 4.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 5 BB, 6 SO against Sam Houston State
Dallas Gallant, Sam Houston State, 2010: 6 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 SO against TCU
Eric Erickson, Miami, 2010: 5.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 6 SO against Rutgers
Matt Harvey, North Carolina, 2010: 5.2 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 3 SO against George Washington
Cody Wheeler, Coastal Carolina, 2010: 6 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 SO against West Virginia
Drew Pomeranz, Ole Miss, 2010: 4 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 SO against UL Monroe
Blake Cooper, South Carolina, 2011: 5 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 SO against Duquesne
Alex Wimmers, Ohio State, 2010: 6 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 9 SO against North Florida
A.J. Griffin, San Diego, 2010: 6 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 8 SO against Indiana
Justin Grimm, Georgia, 2010: 5 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 6 SO against Baylor
Logan Verrett, Baylor, 2011: 7 IP, 9 H, 6 ER, 1 BB, 5 SO against Georgia
Gerrit Cole, UCLA, 2011: 6 IP, 1 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 9 SO against Southern
Barret Loux, Texas A&M, 2010: 5 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 8 SO against Seton Hall
Sonny Gray, Vanderbilt, 2011: 8 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 8 SO against Niagara
Chris Sale, Florida Gulf Coast, 2010: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 SO against Temple
Bryan Morgado, Tennessee, 2010: 5 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 6 SO against Xavier
Pat Dean, Boston College, 2010: 7 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 8 SO against Tulane
Daniel Bibona, UC Irvine, 2010: 7 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 10 SO against Loyola Marymount
Martin Viramontes, Loyola Marymount, 2010: 5.1 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 6 SO against UC Irvine
Alex Meyer, Kentucky, 2011: 5 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 8 SO against Virginia Tech
Asher Wojciechowski, The Citadel, 2010: 7 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 9 SO against East Tennessee State
Ryan Rodebaugh, Kennesaw State, 2010: 3 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 SO against Liberty
Seth Rosin, Minnesota, 2010: 4 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO against Akron
Chad Bettis, Texas Tech, 2010: 7 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 SO against Jacksonville State
Jimmy Reyes, Elon, 2010: 6 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 SO against Towson
Michael Goodnight, Houston, 2010: 4.2 IP, 1 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 SO against Texas State
Josh Mueller, Eastern Illinois, 2010: 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 6 SO against SE Louisiana

The late games aren’t included, but I’ll update you this weekend.

Another game report on the Georgia Tech-Missouri State matchup involving Brandon Cumpton v. Mike Kickham will be coming tomorrow night, so stick around!

February 20, 2010 Posted by | Weekend Column | 1 Comment

Weekend Column – Draft Spending

During my draft previews, I always spend a full paragraph talking about how a team has spent on the draft over the course of their recent history. I really feel this is important, as it shows their commitment to building from within. Obviously, there are times when a team feels a player they’ve drafted isn’t worth their demands, and they’ll let that player go unsigned. The Astros were plenty guilty of that before their current regime, and the Mets have been guilty of that plenty, too. There’s plenty of sense in that. However, I really want to point out how cheap it is to draft and develop rather than to spend at the top.

In 2009, the Mets spent almost $150 million in Major League payroll. Their four-year average Major League payroll for the years 2006 to 2009 was just over $125 million. Let’s compare that to their draft budgeting. I’m limiting the quick study to four years, because that’s the amount of time that general manager Omar Minaya and scouting director Rudy Terrasas have been teamed up. For more on the Mets’ drafting, check out their draft preview. Getting back to the comparison, the Mets spent amounts of $2.5, 3.8, 6.5, and 3.1 million on their 2006 to 2009 drafts for an average annual average of $3.975 million.

This is crude math, and it’s overly simplistic, but if you simply add the two amounts of Major League payroll and draft spending, then find out the percentages, you’ll find that the Mets spend about 3 percent on draft spending and 97 percent on Major League payroll. How in the world can that equate to long-term success? The Yankees spent an almost identical percentage of their total amount spent in the last five years, even with an average payroll 59 percent higher.

The unfortunate truth is that draft spending almost always means successful drafting strategy. Going cheap almost never works out in terms of the volume you get out of the draft. Here’s a quick look at which teams have spent the most and least average amount on the draft under their current scouting directors, looking only at the most recent five years for scouting directors with more experience than that. New scouting directors for the 2010 draft and scouting directors with only a single draft under their belt are excluded for better accuracy.

Top Five
1. Pittsburgh Pirates – Greg Smith, $9.35 million
2. San Francisco Giants – John Barr, $7.7 million
3. Boston Red Sox – Jason McLeod, $7.44 million
4. Tampa Bay Rays – R.J. Harrison, $6.875 million
5. Baltimore Orioles – Joe Jordan, $6.64 million

Bottom Five
1. Los Angeles Angels – Eddie Bane, $3.74 million
2. New York Mets – Rudy Terrasas, $3.975 million
3. Los Angeles Dodgers – Tim Hallgren, $4 million
4. Philadelphia Phillies – Marti Wolever, $4.14 million
5. Chicago White Sox – Doug Laumann, $4.45 million

Of the top five spenders, only Boston qualifies as a truly big market club. Looking at the bottom five, every single club spent at least $96 million in payroll for 2009, with the first four having spent over the $100 million threshold.

What does this tell us? It tells me that teams have not caught on to the Boston model. During the five years that Jason McLeod has been scouting director for Theo Epstein, the Red Sox have won an average of 93 games, though they’ve won 95 or 96 in four of those five seasons. That’s not the amazing part. The amazing part is that they still have one of the top farm systems in all of baseball. It’s top ten by most standards that anyone can go by. They’ve also been able to reduce their Major League payroll by $10 million or more per season for the last three years. Are teams not getting this?

The fact that draft spending correlates so easily to a strong arm is not hard to figure out. However, it seems that many so-called big-market teams haven’t connected draft spending to their long-term success. If you can outspend other clubs on the open market for free agents, why can’t you outspend them in a system that still allows soft slotting? If I’m the Mets, I give up $3 million on my Major League payroll every year without blinking if I can move that directly to drafting budgeting. Spending that much extra would put them in the top five. That’s all it takes, $3 million easily-generated dollars every year for a team with a huge following and new stadium.

Building the new wave of success for the future relies heavily on draft budgeting as the Red Sox have proven. The Yankees are in their own little world, but they soon might feel the crunch of a steadily declining system and average draft spending that has been less than Boston, Baltimore, and Tampa Bay, with Toronto’s new front office putting a much larger emphasis on scouting, too. You can’t spend your way into winning at the Major League level for extended periods of time if you’re spending that money on payroll. However, you can spend your way into winning if you spend it on the draft. Tampa Bay proved that when all their top picks, which they shelled out big money for, started coming along for them at the Major League level.

My prediction for who is next in terms of success bought through draft spending: Pittsburgh. It might be a number of years away, but watch out if Neal Huntington and Greg Smith continue their success from the 2008 and 2009 drafts.

February 13, 2010 Posted by | Weekend Column | 1 Comment

Weekend Column – The Scouting Glossary

Thanks to everyone for making yesterday’s posts wildly successful. We’re on pace for over 40,000 hits in February alone, and I know that things will heat up even more when the college and prep seasons start full swing. Pat Hickey will be bringing you his first major piece tomorrow morning, and I’m sure you’ll find it very interesting. In the meantime, here’s a little light reading for you in our weekend column.

I know that sometimes writers tend to write about what they’re knowledgeable about without explaining to newcomers the jargon they use. I include myself in that group. I’ve been guilty of writing scouting jargon over and over on this blog, and I think it’s time to do a little Scouting 101. Here’s a fun glossary of terms that you can look back to if you’re confused about something. I’ll link on the right-hand side of the blog below my contact link.

Anyway, here are some things you might want to know when reading my posts:

Tools

Tools are a general way of evaluating a player’s capabilities, both in the present and the future. The five tools are a player’s ability to hit for average (commonly known as the hit tool), hit for power (also known as raw power), run, field, and throw. Any time I reference a player’s tools, I’m speaking specifically about these five characteristics.

Skills

The difference between tools and skills is about how a player turns his natural tools into advantages on the baseball field. To read about John Sickels’ Seven Skills, click here. This is a great explanation of what skills truly are.

20-80 Scouting Scale
Any time you see me say that a player has a 40 arm or a 60 hit tool, I’m using a scale that the vast majority of scouts use. Some may change it to a simple 2-8 scale, taking out the zeros. This scale equates tools to a Major League average, which is deemed a 50 tool. A 50 hit tool means a player is an average Major League hitter. When you see me use words like “plus”, “minus”, or “above-average”, I’m using the scouting scale, just converting it to words. “Minus” is anything 40 or below. “Fringe-average” is 45. Average is, of course, 50. “Above-average” is 55. “Plus” is 60. “Plus-plus” is usually reserved for anything 65 or over, though some scouts reserve it for 70 and over. I generally use it for 65 and over, though I mention if I don’t.

Current/Future Tools

When discussing draft prospects, the discussion is really based on where a player will be in the future. For example, a hitter may be a 35 on the scouting scale, but I might refer to him as a potential average hitter. The scouting scale has two grades; the current grade and the future grade. In this situation, I’m referring to the player’s future grade. If I mention a player’s current grade, I would use the phrase, “his hit tool currently sits at 35.” It is important to distinguish between these two grades, as draft prospects are almost never close to where their future grade is. A scout has to be able to distinguish not only what his future grade might be, but also the difference between the current and future grades, as that shows how far the player has to go to reach their potential. A wider gap between the two numbers means a higher risk of the player being a bust, or at the very least end up below where their potential is.

Overall Future Potential (OFP)

OFP is the yardstick by which scouts measure how well a prospect influences all areas of the game. A true “five-tool” player will grade out very well in an OFP system, and it’s the standard in the industry. You find OFP by adding up the future grades of a player’s tools, then dividing by five, the number of tools you’ve graded. Anything over 50 on the OFP scale is supposed to signify someone that has potential to be an average or better Major League regular. 60 to 69 is supposed to signify someone that will be an above-average to star-level Major League player, and 70 and above is supposed to signify a superstar-level player. If I say a player has the potential to be a solid Major League regular, that means I’m saying his OFP is in the 50 to 55 level range. It gets a little trickier when scouts start adjusting for makeup and such, which is commonly done to make OFP seem more like what a scout thinks it should be. I don’t have any particular opinion on this, as makeup is a very important part that cannot be graded.

Makeup

Now that I’ve introduced the term makeup, I’m going to define it. Well, when it comes down to it, it can really be defined as just that. It. The thing that makes a player stand out from the rest, hopefully in a positive way. Makeup is seen as the characteristic that a player is born with that gives them the drive and balance to be a successful player, especially when dealing with the pressures of pro baseball. So when you hear me say things like “bad makeup,” I’m referring to some flaws a player may have in his character or past that may get in the way of success in the future. “Good makeup” usually means that a player is a leader and a hard worker, and they’re going to get the most from their tools. It’s very tough to actually define, but when you see it, you get it.

Scouting Structure

Since I refer to scouts and such quite a lot, I feel I need to give you a quick rundown on how a typical scouting department works. At the top of a scouting department you have a scouting director. They generally only deal with scouts that cover aspects of amateur baseball. However, all scouting department differ in some way, and some teams combine the pro scouting and amateur scouting sides of things under a single scouting director. Either way, the typical scouting director is the sole person responsible for making the decisions pertaining to the draft. A general manager or his assistants may have a part in an early pick or two, but it is the scouting director that runs a draft. Below a scouting director come national crosscheckers. National crosscheckers are essentially the scouting director’s right-hand man. They go out and see the best players for the early rounds of the draft, based on the recommendations of their subordinates. The recommendations that the national crosscheckers then pass along are generally the way that the department forms their draft strategy. A scouting director generally only sees the best talents, with their national crosscheckers (or a single crosschecker) filling in the gaps for their information. Below national crosscheckers are regional crosscheckers. Teams typically have three regional crosscheckers covering the West, Midwest, and the East. Some teams vary that, but this is the traditional format. Below the regional crosscheckers are the area scouts, the scouts that do the vast majority of the local scouting. They see tons of prospects in their area, which can range anywhere from part of a state (in California, Florida, and sometimes Texas) to 5 or 6 states (in areas such as the Dakotas, Montana, etc.). They “turn in” prospects that they think are draft-worthy to their regional crosscheckers, who then decide who to see and they in turn “turn in” their reports to the national crosscheckers. Getting the flow yet? Back to the system, area scouts don’t have the time and energy to reach everywhere all at once, so they have to rely on a system of coaches and informants that essentially tell them who to see at what time of year. For instance, an area scout may get on the phone to a coach that just played a team that’s coming to their area soon, just to see whether a trip is necessary, and then who to focus on. Some scouts rely on a network more than others, but it’s an integral part of the scouting chain.

I’ll be adding to this glossary from time-to-time, and I’ll let everyone know as I update it. For now, just go ahead and study up, as there will be a quiz!

February 6, 2010 Posted by | Weekend Column | Leave a comment

Weekend Column – And the Best Draft Goes To…

Washington. After all, they’re the only ones that have signed anybody decent yet. Drew Storen’s the best signed draft pick. So I can’t tell you who had the best draft yet. And I can’t tell you until August 18, a few hours after midnight, when all the rumors about who signed and who didn’t start to roll across the wires.  Here’s some things I do know about each of the drafts:

Baltimore – I mentioned in my chat that I liked their mix of pitching. Matt Hobgood, Randy Henry, Ashur Tolliver, Ryan Berry, and Jake Cowan all have some pluses going for them. If they sign Mike Ohlman, their 11th rounder, this suddenly gets much more interesting.
Boston – Very interested in their plans on signing their picks. Fuentes isn’t high on my personal list, but getting David Renfroe in the 3rd might be a steal, though they need to talk him down from his supposed $3 million asking price. I like Hazelbaker, as well as Younginer, Kline, and Volz. Brandon Jacobs is an interesting name to watch, but I think he prefers football.
New York Yankees – Heathcott may be expensive, and I generally don’t like what the Yankees did from the 2nd to 5th. Lyerly’s an interesting name to watch, though. In addition, Tyler Lyons, Neil Medchill, Brett Gerritse, Deangelo Mack, and Graham Stoneburner are nice picks. So is Chad Thompson if he signs and rehabs well. Luke Murton in the 19th is a steal. They also picked West Virginia quarterback Pat White in the 48th.
Tampa Bay – Didn’t like their first day, but they showed me something in day two. I liked Glaesmann the most in day one, but Luke Bailey, Jeff Malm, and Devin Fuller could be better. Kevin James is also a name to watch from the 9th round, as is Derek Dennis for the 10th. If they sign Dylan Floro (20th) or Austin Maddox (37th), this draft is a home run.
Toronto – Wow did they have a great first day. Chad Jenkins, James Paxton, and Jake Barrett were all high on my lists, and Eliopoulos and Marisnick both have solid potential. I like the Schimpf pick, but Goins isn’t bad, too. Daniel Webb in the 18th could turn out to be quality if they can sign him. This is a solid, if unspectacular, draft.

Chicago White Sox – Liked the Jared Mitchell pick, but not Phegley and Trayce Thompson. Holmberg also has limited upside, but is fairly polished. I like the Kyle Bellamy pick more than most, and getting Ryan Buch in the 8th is a huge coup. Their draft hinges on signing one or both of Dane Williams (15th) and Brian Goodwin (17th). AJ Casario (38th) would be a nice signing if they could make it happen.
Cleveland – Good first day, not as sure about the second. Getting Alex White was huge, and getting Jason Kipnis on top of that could mean the rest of their draft could fail and the draft as a whole would be a success. Don’t really like Gardner, but the Austin Adams, Ben Carlson, Jordan Henry run was nice. Preston Guilmet is also a nice selection. I also like Mike Rayl (15th). Interesting, just not exciting.
Detroit – Too much depends on signability here. Turner is a great pick. So is Oliver. But how much of the budget will they eat up? I like Gaynor a lot, but I think Edwin Gomez was hugely overrated this spring. Austin Wood’s just shaky to me after that forever long outing, and Dan Fields might be left out to dry if Oliver and Turner eat up too much of the budget. Fritsch (8th) is an intriguing arm, as is Matt Thompson (12th), and this draft could be a big winner if they could sign Mark Appel (15th).
Kansas City – Wow. Love this draft. Aaron Crow and Wil Myers on day one was great, but adding Chris Dwyer (4th), Louis Coleman (5th), and Cole White (6th) are huge. They solidify this draft if they all sign. Tanner Poppe (37th) is exciting, but unsignable that far back. One through six, even missing a 2nd rounder, is probably up there on my list.
Minnesota – They were reading off my draft chart. Getting Kyle Gibson could be boom or bust, but adding three more arms that have been in first round consideration is interesting (Matt Bashore, Billy Bullock, Ben Tootle). Derek McCallum (4th) was all over my personal lists, as was Brad Stillings (7th) and Blake Dean (10th). If they sign John Stilson (19th), I move this up into my top ten. If Eric Decker (27th) signs, move it up more. Same for Aaron Senne (32nd).

Los Angeles Angels – Lots of picks. The Grichuk-Trout combo is boom or bust. Getting Skaggs and Richards in the supplemental was nice, but Kehrer was overdrafted. Josh Spence is well-known. Carlos Ramirez (8th) is a very solid pick for an organization lacking catching depth behind pseudo-catcher Hank Conger. Signing Jake Locker (10th) would be huge. I like Dillon Baird (11th) and Mike Nesseth (15th) a good bit. All in all, just a lot of bodies for a thin farm system.
Oakland – Wow again. If they sign these guys, this is a top 5 draft. Green was a great pick, though Marks is nothing incredible, just solid. Max Stassi (4th), Ryan Ortiz (6th), Ian Krol (7th), Sam Dyson (10th), and Josh Leyland (16th) are what will make or break this draft. Include Mike Zunino (29th) in that if you want. Ryan Lockwood (39th) would be nice, too, but I doubt he signs. Great second day in general.
Seattle – I’m back and forth on this one. Love Ackley, don’t like Franklin and Baron that high, but Poythress and Seager were solid on day one. James Jones as a left fielder? Ok. Tyler Blandford (5th) is very interesting, as is Shaver Hansen (6th), Brian Moran (7th), Trevor Coleman (9th), and Andrew Carraway (12th). They ended up with Scott Griggs (34th), but they won’t be able to sign him. Some interesting names that are solid, but Franklin and Baron will decide this draft.
Texas – Getting Purke and Scheppers make this draft a winner, but it hampered the rest of their choices. Don’t really like Mendonca, but Erlin’s interesting. Andrew Doyle (4th) is solid, but the rest of the picks were almost pure projects. Like Braden Tullis (8th), but I’ve been hard-pressed to find others that I really really like. More flashy names like Sierra (6th), Jabari Blash (9th) and Jayce Boyd (19th) all make me nervous. Reggie Williams (32nd) would be a nice sign, but that’s doubtful. Lots of uncertainty here.

Atlanta – What happened? Mike Minor? I like David Hale and Mychal Jones, but not enough to give this draft an excellent grade. In general, no names really stand out, and I can only judge this draft a few years down the road.
Florida – Up and down on this one. Like Chad James a lot, and Bryan Berglund is a nice projectable arm. Da’Shon Cooper is an overdraft in the 3rd. I like Dustin Dickerson (6th) a good bit and think he could be a steal. The rest were generally generic, meaning there will be a few higher-round guys gone in a shorter amount of time.
New York Mets – Liked the first day, despite the lack of picks. Matz was a favorite of mine, and Shields has some potential. Magnifico has some very nice potential. Ceciliani probably won’t hit. Buchanan has a nice arm. Looking at the entire package, I’m unimpressed.
Philadelphia – Their first day was horrible. I like their second day, though, as Adam Buschini (4th), Matt Way (5th), Brody Colvin (7th), and Jonathan Singleton (8th) all have Major League potential in one way or another. I like Nick Hernandez (12th) a good bit , and if they sign some guys in the Jacob Stewart (14th), Austin Hyatt (15th), Andrew Susac (16th) group, they’re golden. However, you can’t make up for bad first day drafting.
Washington – Strasburg of course. Storen is solid. I like Kobernus, Morris, Weaver, Jordan, and Karns. I think they shoot their budget with Strasburg, meaning none of Marcus Stroman (18th), Brandon King (27th), Jacob Morris (35th), Josh Elander (37th), Chris Manno (38th), Cohl Walla (43rd), or Hoby Milner (44th) sign.

Chicago Cubs – As usual, I’m not a big fan of a Tim Wilken draft. I’m not a Brett Jackson fan, and I think both the DJ LeMahieu and Austin Kirk picks were premature. Getting Brooks Raley (6th) so late is a steal, but they need to sign him as a sophomore-eligible. Richard Jones (9th) was a sleeper of mine. Just a blah draft.
Cincinnati – Very, very interesting mix. Mike Leake and Brad Boxberger form a safe 1-2 punch to start things out, though they can’t even begin to make up for the risk in Billy Hamilton. I like Donnie Joseph and Mark Fleury, and Dan Tuttle is a nice touch. Mark Serrano (6th) has dominating stats, but who knows? Josh Fellhauer (7th) is solid, and they’re lucky to have gotten Brian Pearl (9th) so late. Signing one of Devan Marrero (17th) or Stephen Perez (18th) would make this draft quite interesting.
Houston – Bobby Heck is confusing. I like Tanner Bushue, but the rest are a little funny. Dallas Keuchel (7th) is one of their safer picks, and the rest are seemingly organizational players or boom/bust guys. Raul Rivera (37th) went from best Puerto Rican prospect to one of the lowest in just a year. Still, strange mix.
Milwaukee – Can’t decide on this one. Getting Arnett was lucky, and he’s reportedly close to signing. Don’t like Kentrail Davis, but Heckathorn, Walla, and Garfield are solid. D’Vontrey Richardson could make this draft hugely successful, but so could guys like Khris Davis (7th), Del Howell (15th), and Scooter Gennett (16th). Maybe they’ll make a run at signing Kyle Hansen (40th), but I doubt it. In general, they just added more bodies to a rebuilding system.
Pittsburgh – I’m both frustrated and intrigued by this one. Tony Sanchez didn’t deserve his slot, though he’s about to sign. I like Victor Black and Brooks Pounders, but I wonder if Evan Chambers will work out. They got some steals in Zach Von Rosenberg (6th), Trent Stevenson (7th), Jeff Inman (12th), and Matt den Dekker (16th). Maybe they’ll make a run at Michael Heller (29th). All in all, I hope they use the money they saved at #4 overall and use it for these players listed here.
St. Louis – Nice early mix followed by disappointment. They were lucky to get Shelby Miller and Joe Kelly where they did, but Robert Stock as a catcher is very confusing. Scott Bittle’s shoulder should have knocked him down further, and Ryan Jackson probably won’t hit. I was really disappointed in their second day.

Arizona – I was impressed by their first day and early on in the second. Getting Bobby Borchering was lucky, and Pollock was a bit of an overdraft. Davidson, Owings, Belfiore, Smith, and Krauss were all impressive picks for me. So was David Nick (4th) and Ryan Wheeler (5th). Patrick Schuster (13th) threw a few no-hitters.
Colorado – This is in the running for my #1 draft if they can sign their guys. Getting Matzek was a pure coup, as was Tim Wheeler and Rex Brothers falling. Their run of Ben Paulsen, Kent Matthes, and Joe Sanders was simply amazing. Wes Musick (9th) was a bargain. Wow, great draft.
Los Angeles Dodgers – This one’s in the middle for me. I felt Aaron Miller was overdrafted, as was Blake Smith by a bit. Garrett Gould was a great pick, and I was not in the least surprised that they picked Brett Wallach. Angelo Songco (4th) was a steal that late, and Connor Powers (11th), Richie Shaffer (25th), and Alex McRee (26th) could do some damage. I don’t think they sign Brian Johnson (27th).
San Diego – I’ve waffled with this one. I love their Tate-Williams combo early, and Jerry Sullivan could be a nice surprise. Keyvius Sampson (4th) is a huge steal, but only if he starts. Drew Madrigal (11th) and Jorge Reyes (17th) both intrigue me. All in all, this seems like a boom or bust draft reminiscent of my Texas writeup.
San Francisco – I’m hard-pressed to find a draft I like more from round one to ten without extra picks. Each pick has something about them I think can project them as big leaguers in one way or another. It’s just a question of signing. They also added Jonathan Walsh (18th), Jason Walls (19th), and Mitch Mormann (20th) later, though I don’t know if they’ll sign. This could be a spectacular group.

June 12, 2009 Posted by | Weekend Column | 11 Comments

   

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