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April 30, 2013

Dissecting the Draft

Introduction

by Nick J. Faleris


Creating a Mechanism for Evaluation of Draft Strategy

Part of what drew me to Baseball Prospectus, other than my respect for Jason Parks and his vision of a scouting-department-style “Prospect Team,” was the allure of stepping into a ready-made readership eager and able to help me explore baseball on both a macro and micro level. As far as the draft is concerned, that means not only breaking down draft prospects from a scouting perspective on a player-by-player basis, but also working to understand what goes into formulating an overarching approach to player acquisition through the draft. This includes general strategies relating to draft acquisitions, as well as draft-class-specific game planning.

Over the years, I've found one of the easiest assertions an amateur scout can make is, "I really liked [insert successful prospect name] coming out of [high school/college]." During the early days of my journey to grow as an evaluator, whenever any familiar prospect showed a leap in development at the professional level, my mind always ran back to whether or not that was something I was surprised to see. Almost always the answer was "no". But that doesn't really make sense, does it? I was, and really still remain, relatively new at the evaluation game, and it seems highly unlikely that I was able to effectively evaluate complex propositions such as the future success of young baseball prospects with so few years of earnest scouting under my belt.

Furthermore, when inking a draft report, I have always trended conservative in my appraisals, with a focus on identifying risk level and probability (probably an offshoot of my training as an attorney, which places a premium on issue-spotting and rainy-day planning). It would follow, then, that my outlooks generally aren't all that rosy, but rather focus on the things that might go wrong. So why was I seldom surprised with prospect success stories? The short answer is that it is easy to "like" potential and, for the most part, any draft prospect worth expending evaluative resources possesses potential in spades.

As basic as this concept seems, I firmly believe it is an overlooked truism, both for those in the industry and for those covering the scouting game as media members, informal bloggers, or fans (granted, to a greater extent with the latter two than with the former). Hitting on a prospect's upside, or "getting it right,” is intoxicating. You were able to look at a table of ingredients and correctly predict the taste profile of the meal to be shaped—it's a talent, and one that requires intelligence and fortitude to shape. Further, for those in the industry, it is a skill that has the potential to change the fortunes of an organization, particularly when you hit big on an impact talent.

Of course hitting on high-ceiling talent is the ultimate goal, but the nature of the draft acquisition game requires more than evaluating the broad swath of draft-eligible prospects to the best of our ability. At the decision-making level, concerns expand past individual player appraisal to a need to recognize what opportunities an organization’s particular draft slot affords the org, and how best those opportunities can be leveraged to build a draft class that will pay dividends down the road.

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<< Previous Article
Fantasy Article Free Agent Watch: Amer... (04/30)
No Previous Column
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Premium Article Dissecting the Draft: ... (05/06)
Next Article >>
Premium Article The Prospectus Hit Lis... (04/30)

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