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May 29, 2007

Wait 'Til Next Year

The Scouting Directors, AL East

by Bryan Smith

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Two weeks ago, I started an attempt to identify the drafting tendencies of MLB scouting directors. I surmised that any person of power in sport falls back on his own patterns of informed behavior when making important choices. 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.

I'm analyzing the scouting directors 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 round 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 continue the series looking at the AL East. You can find the AL West here, the NL West here, the AL Central here, and the NL Central here.

Baltimore Orioles
Scouting Director: Joe Jordan (Drafts Run: 2005-2006)

Best Player Produced: Brandon Erbe (3rd round, 2005)
Next Best Prospect in Minors: Billy Rowell (1st round, 2006)
Notable Steals: David Hernandez (16th round, 2005)
Five-Round Strategy: 12 total picks. 58.3% high school, 33.3% college, 8.3% junior college.
Strategy in a Nutshell: The Orioles had a lot of bad drafts in years past, but now under Jordan's rule, the system has gotten significantly deeper. Jordan favors raw players, with two high school hitters among his first selections in each draft. Also, in each draft, the next picks were (relatively) raw college talents, southpaw Garrett Olson and juco star Pedro Beato. If anything, Jordan is big on athleticism; Nolan Reimold, Ryan Adams, and Brandon Snyder are all good athletes. The upcoming draft will be tell us that much more about Jordan.
2007 Draft Crystal Ball: With the fifth pick in the draft, Jordan absolutely must make a splash, because he doesn't choose again until pick 130. At five, the Orioles will probably choose a hitter again, either Matt Wieters or Mike Moustakas. If Jordan decides to instead define his draft with a pitcher, Ross Detwiler and Daniel Moskos would make the most sense.

Boston Red Sox
Scouting Director: Jason McLeod (Drafts Run: 2005-2006)

Best Player Produced: Jacoby Ellsbury (1st round, 2005)
Next Best Prospect in Minors: Clay Buchholz (1st round, 2005)
Notable Steals: Ryan Kalish (9th round, 2006), Tyler Weeden (16th round, 2006), Lars Anderson (18th round, 2006)
Five-Round Strategy: 17 total picks. 58.8% college, 35.3% high school, 5.9% junior college.
Strategy in a Nutshell: Few systems have improved more in the last three seasons than that of the Red Sox, something for which scouting director Jason McLeod deserves some of the credit. McLeod landed a huge haul in his first draft, cashing in on selections from high school (Michael Bowden), and both a junior college (Clay Buchholz) and four-year college (Jacoby Ellsbury). In his second draft, McLeod was much more hit or miss, taking very raw players in Jason Place, Daniel Bard, and Caleb Clay. With one of the game's largest scouting budgets, the Red Sox can afford to make pricey selections. McLeod's picks have shown a lot of variance, so it's hard to guess whether McLeod will lean towards a hitter or pitcher, college or high school. We know that he won't be scared off by high bonus demands, though.
2007 Draft Crystal Ball: The Red Sox will wait until the 55th overall selection to start their draft in 2007, so surely the team will be looking for players who dropped due to bonus demands and college commitments. A sophomore like Texas' Brad Suttle or Stanford commit Jack McGeary (if no one else wants to buy out his commitment) would be possibilities for Boston.

New York Yankees
Scouting Director: Damon Oppenheimer (Drafts Run: 2005-2006)

Best Player Produced: Joba Chamberlain (1st round, 2006)
Next Best Prospect in Minors: Ian Kennedy (1st round, 2006)
Notable Steals: Alan Horne (11th round, 2005), Dellin Betances (8th round, 2006), David Robertson (17th round, 2006)
Five-Round Strategy: 10 total picks. 80% college, 20% high school.
Strategy in a Nutshell: This season will be Oppenheimer's third running the Yankees drafts, and he has done a good job reviving the farm system. The Yankees went over slot money for numerous players in 2006, and likely will continue that trend at every opportunity going forward. Oppenheimer also has gone very heavy on pitchers in his two drafts, as the Yankees seem to be recognizing a recent enhanced value placed on pitching prospects. If the Yankees take a position player, it will be one with plus athleticism, as evidenced by the selections of C.J. Henry, Brett Gardner, and Austin Jackson in recent years. It is also very unlikely that Oppenheimer will veer away from a college player.
2007 Draft Crystal Ball: With the best record from the 2006 season, the Yankees will be choosing at the end of each round in the 2007 draft. Jake Arrieta has a similar profile to Joba Chamberlain's from one year ago, and James Simmons or Wes Roemer would make sense as well. As far as plus athletes go, Zack Cozart or Wendell Fairley could pique the Yankees' interest.

Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Scouting Director: R.J. Harrison (Drafts Run: 2006)

Best Player Produced: Evan Longoria (1st round)
Next Best Prospect in Minors: Josh Butler (2nd round)
Notable Steals: Desmond Jennings (10th round)
Five-Round Strategy: Five total picks. 60% high school, 40% college.
Strategy in a Nutshell: Harrison is following in the footsteps of some people who provided Tampa Bay with a good future foundation, so expectations are high. Evan Longoria was a good start last season, but Harrison went pitching-heavy to address a weakness in the system after that. Third-round pick Nick Fuller didn't sign--he went to South Carolina and got kicked off the team. I hope Harrison can stop this trend of Tampa losing early picks to college; Fuller, Bryan Morris, and Andrew Miller have all been lost from their last four drafts.
2007 Draft Crystal Ball: Harrison has a no-brainer with David Price at the top of his draft, but then the extended supplemental round will keep him silent until pick 66. Price and Longoria should both be in the big leagues by 2009, giving Harrison some major league talent to flaunt during his performance reviews.

Toronto Blue Jays
Scouting Director: Jon Lalonde (Drafts Run: 2004-2006)

Best Player Produced: Adam Lind (3rd round, 2004)
Best Prospect in Minors: Travis Snider (1st round, 2006)
Notable Steals: Jesse Litsch (24th round, 2004)
Five-Round Strategy: 14 total picks. 92.9% college, 7.1% high school.
Strategy in a Nutshell: Travis Snider represented the first time in Lalonde's tenure that he picked a high schooler in the first ten rounds, yet eight of the Blue Jays' first ten picks last June were still college players. Snider is an interesting selection because he was the prep class' most polished player last year--he was the most college-like teenager in the draft. Lalonde has shown an affinity for left-handed pitching and power at the top of the draft, with examples like Zach Jackson and David Purcey among the former, and Lind, Snider, and Luke Hopkins the latter.
2007 Draft Crystal Ball: The Blue Jays pick twice in the first round and four times within the draft's first 60 choices. Count me as surprised if one of the choices isn't Beau Mills, Matt LaPorta. or Todd Frazier. Also, if Lalonde wants to supplement those picks with a southpaw, Nick Schmidt makes sense, as would Maryland's Brett Cecil.

Bryan Smith is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Bryan's other articles. You can contact Bryan by clicking here

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