May 20, 2007
Wait 'Til Next Year
The Scouting Directors, NL West
Last week, I started the attempt to find tendencies in the drafting of Major League scouting directors. This is basically a case study in making a mock draft without inside knowledge--I'm wondering what the past can tell us about the future. In looking at the scouting directors, I'm analyzing them in multiple categories: Best Player Produced, Best Prospect in Minors, Notable Steals (any notable player that was drafted after round five), Five-Round Strategy (total picks in first five rounds divided by college and high school selections), and Strategy in a Nutshell (subjective look at the scouting director's choices). Finally, I use this information to look into the 2007 Draft Crystal Ball and determine if we can forecast choices merely based upon previous tendencies. Today, we move the series over to the National League to check out the NL West, the only division containing a team with a new scouting director this year.
New Scouting Director: Tom Allison
Scouting Director: Bill Schmidt (Drafts Run: 2000-2006)
Best Player Produced: Garrett Atkins (5th round, 2000)
Best Prospect in Minors: Dexter Fowler (14th round, 2004)
Notable Steals: Clint Barmes (10th round, 2000), Brad Hawpe (11th round, 2000), Cory Sullivan (7th round, 2001), Ryan Shealy (11th round, 2002), Fowler, Brandon Hynick (8th round, 2006)
Five-Round Strategy: 38 total picks. 65.8% college, 28.9% high school, 2.6% junior college, 2.6% Latin.
Strategy in a Nutshell: As seen by Schmidt's long list under "Notable Steals," few scouting directors are better in the middle rounds. Schmidt has had less success at the top, where Troy Tulowitzki and Jeff Francis represent his only true hits, although Ian Stewart and Greg Reynolds create hope for a better record. Schmidt is a college-heavy drafter, usually surrounding one high school player with college players in the first five rounds. He's gone with players of all varieties at the top: two high school pitchers, two college hurlers, three high school position players, and Tulowitzki. So, Schmidt is unpredictable at the top, but the Rockies can usually depend on one Major Leaguer coming after the fifth round, and for that, he keeps his job.
2007 Draft Crystal Ball: The Rockies pick eighth in the draft this season, and if they believe Mike Moustakas could catch, he would be a fit for that pick. Another good fit is Daniel Moskos, as the Clemson lefty has been one of college baseball's biggest worm-burners in 2007; his likely fast timetable for making the majors and groundball tendencies would make him a fitting addition to the Rockies' system.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Scouting Director: Logan White (Drafts run: 2002-2006)
Best Player Produced: Chad Billingsley (1st round, 2003)
Best Prospect in Minors: Clayton Kershaw (1st round, 2006)
Notable Steals: Russell Martin (17th round, 2002), Matt Kemp (6th round, 2003), Andy LaRoche (39th round, 2003)
Five-Round Strategy: 30 total picks. 70% high school, 16.7% college, 10% junior college, 3.3% Latin.
Strategy in a Nutshell: If this June is like the past five before it, we know one thing entering the draft--we will all praise Logan White afterwards. White's drafts have been rated among the best almost every year he has been at the helm, and the Dodgers' loaded farm system is a product of his abilities. The knock on White is that he has yet to match his contemporaries in terms of creating a star; Billingsley, Martin, Kemp, and James Loney represent his best so far. Still, superstars should come, and White's success rate with evaluating prep talent is unparalleled.
2007 Draft Crystal Ball: Thanks to Julio Lugo's departure, the Dodgers pick 20th in the draft, and then again 19 spots later. While the numbers defy it, I think White will go with one prep player and one collegian in these spots; the latter type could be either Julio Borbon or Nick Schmidt. There are also rumors that White has an affinity for Jack McGeary, and that he could attempt to buy out the southpaw's commitment to Stanford.
San Diego Padres
Scouting Director: Chief Gayton (Drafts Run: 2001-2006)
Best Player Produced: Khalil Greene (1st round, 2002)
Best Prospect in Minors: Chase Headley (2nd round, 2005)
Notable Steals: Jason Bartlett (13th round, 2001), George Kottaras (20th round, 2002)
Five-Round Strategy: 33 total picks. 69.7% college, 21.2% high school, 6.1% junior college and one Matt Harrington.
Strategy in a Nutshell: Gayton has been in charge of Padres drafts since 2001, but since Grady Fuson joined the organization, the nature of their collaboration is unknown. However, what we can anticipate is their shared preference for college pitchers; Gayton has been at the 70% clip in the first five rounds, and Fuson was at 72.5% in the previous drafts he ran. However, this hardly means the pair is averse to using first round picks on high school players, as seen by Nathan Haynes, Jeremy Bonderman, Matt Bush, and Kyler Burke. Fuson is more pitcher-friendly than Gayton, and with the Padres organization relatively bereft of pitching prospects, picking pitchers seems to make the most sense. However, the team will likely use part of their budget to sign draft-and-follow flamethrower Matt Latos, so that takes away some of the need for pitching.
2007 Draft Crystal Ball: Gayton and Fuson choose four times in the first 60 picks, but only once in the first round, at the 23 slot. If they lean towards college pitching, both Brett Cecil and Nick Schmidt could be available. However, the Padres have a long history of selecting California players, and if so, that top pick could be used on James Simmons.
San Francisco Giants
Scouting Director: Matt Nerland (Drafts Run: 1999-2006)
Best Player Produced: Matt Cain (1st round, 2002)
Best Prospect in Minors: Tim Lincecum (1st round, 2006); I had to cheat or it would have been ugly.
Notable Steals: Kevin Frandsen (12th round, 2004), Jonathan Sanchez (27th round, 2004), Clay Hensley (8th round, 2002), Jason Ellison (22nd round, 2000)
Five-Round Strategy: 42 total picks. 78.6% college, 16.7% high school, 4.8% junior college.
Strategy in a Nutshell: You have to feel for Nerland, because it just doesn't appear like Brian Sabean likes to make life any easier for the guy. Sabean is known around baseball for hating draft picks, having purposely lost first-round picks by signing free agents early in the past. Still, Nerland has a pretty impressive record with the pitching he's selected. Less happily, the Giants haven't really developed an offensive talent from among Nerland's picks, and if that doesn't change soon, his long tenure could come to a close. Nerland has given the Giants a future one (Cain), two (Lincecum) and three (Lowry) for the rotation, but he must now draft a 3-4-5 for the future lineup.
2007 Draft Crystal Ball: In a break from the past, Nerland will be busy this June, with six of the draft's first 51 picks. The Giants first pick at 10, where many have floated Beau Mills' name, unsurprising given San Francisco's long-time connection with the Lewis-Clark State program. I think it will be Mike Moustakas, Jason Heyward, or Matt Dominguez first, with Todd Frazier and Kyle Russell representing a couple of ideas for their 22nd and 29th picks, respectively.
Bryan Smith is an author of Baseball Prospectus.
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