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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


  1. Unfortunately, I think you got the Braves right. The 2009 draft may yet prove us wrong–but it continues to look like a step backward.

    I also think that the Braves will continue to be penny pinchers….

    Comment by Stephen in the UAE | March 13, 2010 | Reply

  2. […] Seiler did a ranking of all the scouting directors in Major League Baseball for his blog MLB Bonus Baby.  You are never going to guess who came in at #30 for last place… 30. New York Mets, Rudy […]

    Pingback by Mets Have Worst Scouting Director in MLB? | March 13, 2010 | Reply

  3. […] RJ Harrison, the Rays director of scouting is ranked third in baseball by Andy Seiler (h/t Rays Prospects). [Andy Seiler's MLB Blog] […]

    Pingback by [THE HANGOVER] The One Where We Discuss Pena’s Contact, Blalock’s Debut And The Battle For The 5th Spot | Rays Index | March 15, 2010 | Reply

  4. Greg Smith sixth???????????????????????????????????? You need to do your homework before writing.

    Comment by CharlieinPA | March 15, 2010 | Reply

    • Where would you put him and why?

      Comment by andyseiler | March 15, 2010 | Reply

      • Did you not see his 30+ question marks? Clearly he doesn’t need to back up his assertion with facts, logic, or reason, he added a ton of question marks.

        Anyways, great work as usual.

        Comment by marcello | March 16, 2010

  5. How can you rate Laumann below first year guys? After the drafts he has had in 2008 and 2009? It shows your lack of knowledge and ability to scout!

    Comment by Jeff | March 16, 2010 | Reply

    • Hey Jeff. What’s the reason the 2009 draft was so great? I thought it was solid, but not exceptional, even with the extra picks.

      2008 was indeed a good year, but I have the Chicago scouting department down here for the reasons above, not because of Laumann in particular. I actually like Doug Laumann and go to bat for him on a number of White Sox sites that blast him. My whole point is that they’ll never have a great scouting department as long as they’re devoid of resources relative to the rest of the league. Has nothing to do with Laumann.

      The main issue with Laumann, though, is that I get the very real feeling that he doesn’t have Ken Williams’ confidence. He’s been reassigned by Williams from that job before, and there’s nothing to say he won’t do it again. That’s just not healthy.

      Comment by andyseiler | March 16, 2010 | Reply

  6. The 2009 draft has done a very good job of progressing and until the injury first rounder Mitchell was having a terrifc big league spring training.

    2008 was better than a good year. 2 Big Leaguers and guys such as Leesman, Short, Danks and Morel knocking on the door?

    Your reason is due to resources? How about looking at what the Director does with those resources instead of what they have. A great scouting department is not how much money or as you like to call the “resources” they have…. it is what they do with those. I think they have proven way more then a first year director.

    You need to do more research on your articles before putting something on print. Kenny Williams has done nothing but praise Laumann and his staff in the last 12 months about how great of a job they have done cleaning up a mess that was made with the prevous staff.

    Comment by Jeff | March 16, 2010 | Reply

    • It’s both resources and how you use them. A department that doesn’t get enough resources will never be great. In addition, Beckham was a no-brainer pick, and many times when you pick that early in the round, it’s not really something you can judge a department on, especially when you pick a hitter. And I still don’t believe Hudson will be anything more than a back of the rotation starter. That’s all well and good, but it’s not outstanding.

      Like I said before, until that department gets enough resources to compete, they will always be at the bottom of the barrel. They’ll only be able to continue to compete at the Major League level if they can re-stock in the draft, and they won’t be able to do that unless they get enough resources.

      Finally, I do research. I do a lot of research. It’s one thing to have a different opinion than me, but it’s another to come in here and act like I haven’t done my research. I have. I welcome different opinions from mine with open arms, and you can look across many different sites where I’ve had open dialogue with people who have different opinions from me.

      However, I don’t tolerate those that simply bash me rather than have a rational conversation. Consider this a warning. If you continue to be rude about our dialogue, then you will not be welcome back.

      I hope you can continue to discuss this without the personal attacks.

      Comment by andyseiler | March 17, 2010 | Reply

      • It sounds to me as if you can’t deal with the critisim that comes with being a writer. Do a google search on Williams and his public quotes on Laumann and his staff and you will see that.

        In regards to Becham as a “no-brainer” why did he go 1-7??? I guess Matt Bush, Mark Prior and Brien Taylor weren’t no brainers in your mind?

        How many back end rotation starters as you call Hudson get to the Big Leagues in their first full season? You failed to address the other names I mention ad well!

        My question for you would be how many innings did you see Hudson throw to make him a bottom of the rotation starter?

        Comment by Jeff | March 17, 2010

  7. I hate to tell you but David Chadd has done a pretty awful job as the Tigers scouting director.
    -He was LUCKY to have gotten Rick Porcello. You don’t have to be smart to know he was a steal outside of the top 5 picks. The Tigers owner, not Chadd, picked Porcello.
    -Cameron Maybin was a decent pick but the two outfielders selected right after him might be better young players. Bruce was the top prospect in baseball and McCutchen looked great in the bigs last year. Maybin is young but right now taking Maybin over Bruce and McCutchen is no achievement. Merely a decent pick. And both Bruce and McCutchen plus Andrew Miller could have gotten Miguel Cabrera in a trade.
    -Speaking of Andrew Miller, he’s awful. He got by on pure stuff at UNC without having to worry about polishing his command/control. He’s in trouble now because of it. The next three pitchers that were taken? Clayton Kershaw, Tim Lincecum and Max Scherzer. Any of those guys could have been traded for Cabrera.

    Chadd continues to take average/solid relievers and college players that just aren’t good high in the draft. Case in point(s): Ryan Perry, Cody Satterwhite, Andy Oliver, Brennan Boesch, Luke Putkonen, Danny Worth, Charlie Furbush, Cale Iorg, Scott Green, Brett Jacobsen, Chris Robinson, Kevin Whelan.

    Just look at that list of top 5 round picks. The guy has a serious infatuation with both relievers and college players coming off average to bad years. It’s remarkable.

    As a Cardinal fan, I can’t understand why Chadd and Luhnow are so far apart. Perhaps if Bill DeWitt had given Luhnow the money to sign Porcello they’d be switched?

    Sorry for the rant. And I should add that I don’t think Luhnow should be top 10. Just that Chadd is pretty awful.

    Comment by Bucky Majors | March 17, 2010 | Reply

  8. […] meant to link this a while ago, Andy Seiler of MLB Bonus Baby ranked the scouting directors and listed Andy MacPhail #2: 2. Baltimore Orioles, Joe Jordan: Jordan’s a little controversial to […]

    Pingback by Friday News and Notes | March 19, 2010 | Reply

  9. You do realize that Eddie Bane is the Angel’s SD. Tony Reagins is the GM. Although not a big White Sox fan, I would also say Laumann is much more capable than many guys in front of him. Stan Meek as well.

    While they may have some limitations on who they can draft and what they can spend, they are very good baseball minds that given the money of some larger market clubs would look completely different. I would suggest making this list more of a who would you want to run your department as compared to who has the most resources.

    Comment by Jim | March 23, 2010 | Reply

  10. I think you have Heck to low. Add his time with the Brew Crew to you research and he is at least top 10 material. I think he founds some bats for the Brewers.

    Comment by Steve | March 26, 2010 | Reply

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