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May 31, 2007

Wait 'Til Next Year

The Scouting Directors, NL East

by Bryan Smith

Today, I close out my attempt to find tendencies in the drafting philosophies of Major League scouting directors. I surmised that any person of power in sports 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.

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 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 to determine if we can forecast choices merely based upon previous tendencies. Today we finish with the NL East. You can find the AL West here, the NL West here, the AL Central here, the NL Central here, and the AL East here.

Atlanta Braves
Scouting Director: Roy Clark (Drafts run: 2000-2006)

Best Player Produced: Brian McCann (2nd round, 2000)
Best Prospect in Minors (sort of): Jarrod Saltalamacchia (1st round, 2004)
Notable Steals: Adam LaRoche (29th round, 2000), Chuck James (20th round, 2002), Brandon Jones (24th round, 2003)
Five-Round Strategy: 53 total picks: 18.9% college, 71.7% high school, 7.5% junior college, 3.8% Latin.
Strategy in a Nutshell: John Schuerholz is a General Manager that demands much from his scouting director, since he needs prospects for trade as well as to stock the Braves. Clark has had a good run at the helm in Atlanta, taking high-risk, high-reward talents on an annual basis. Of his 15 first-round picks in seven drafts, 13 have been prep players, with only Joey Devine and Dan Meyer bucking the trend. It has definitely paid off with McCann, Jeff Francouer, and Adam Wainwright. The Braves are known for staying in the Southeast early, and while they do indeed trust their Florida and Georgia area scouts, Clark is more basically dogmatic about selecting high school talent.
2007 Draft Crystal Ball: With the Braves system currently more barren than usual, Clark could throw a changeup and go the college route (Daniel Moskos, perhaps?), but I don't think so. A better bet is another in-state star like outfielder Jason Heyward, or other regional talents like LHP Josh Smoker or flamethrower Michael Main.

Florida Marlins
Scouting Director: Stan Meek (Drafts Run: 2002-2006)

Best Player Produced: Jeremy Hermida (1st round, 2002)
Best Prospect in Minors: Christopher Volstad (1st round, 2005)
Notable Steals: Scott Olsen (6th round, 2002)
Five-Round Strategy: 32 total picks. 53.1% high school, 43.8% college, 3.1% Latin.
Strategy in a Nutshell: Last season brought validation to Stan Meek's tenure as Marlins scouting director, as 2002 draft choices Josh Johnson and Olsen helped anchor the rotation. It is no surprise that Meek's best success stories have come off the bump; no other scouting director drafts pitchers with Meek's avidity. The 2005 draft saw mostly prep pitchers at the top, but in 2004, Meek went with college pitchers at the top. At some point the Marlins have to believe they have enough pitching; if so, Meek has also demonstrated a taste for athletic outfielders and catchers.
2007 Draft Crystal Ball: The 12th spot in the draft will again offer Meek pitching, unless he goes with an athletic infielder in Matt Dominguez. For pitchers, Meek could be considering another teenage talent from among Jarrod Parker, Madison Bumgarner, or Blake Beavan.

New York Mets
Scouting Director: Rudy Terrasas (Drafts Run: 2006)

Best Player Produced: Joe Smith (3rd round)
Best Prospect in Minors: Kevin Mulvey (2nd round)
Notable Steals: None yet identified.
Five-Round Strategy: 4 total picks. 75% college, 25% junior college.
Strategy in a Nutshell: Omar Minaya has a background in international scouting, and in selecting Terrasas as his scouting director, he hired a colleague with a background in Latin America. As a result, Terrasas has already been aggressive in the Dominican Republic, but his tendencies running a draft remain to be seen. His first four picks last season were all pitchers, and given Joe Smith's success this season, Terrasas already has one bullet point on his resume. Finding players like Smith will be essential, as Omar Minaya has little reservations about forfeiting first-round picks for free agents.
2007 Draft Crystal Ball: The Mets don't pick until the supplemental first round this June, choosing 42nd and 47th. If the pitching trend continues, pitchers Barry Enright, Tony Watson, and Aaron Poreda are all good college names that could be on the board at that point. However, seriously associating names with the 42nd pick is a fool's game.

Philadelphia Phillies
Scouting Director: Marti Wolever (Drafts Run: 2002-2006)

Best Player Produced: Cole Hamels (1st round, 2002)
Best Prospect in Minors: J.A. Happ (3rd round, 2004)
Notable Steals: Scott Mathieson (17th round, 2002), Jeremy Slayden (8th round, 2005), Joshua Outman (10th round, 2005)
Five-Round Strategy: 23 total picks. 56.5% college, 43.5% high school.
Strategy in a Nutshell: Wolever had big shoes to fill when he took over in 2002, running the drafts while Mike Arbuckle moved up to the Assistant GM position. Since taking up those responsibilities, Wolever has drafted in a style opposite to his predecessor--high school players in the first round, college players in the middle rounds. Also, it should be noted that Wolever has looked to Texas with his first selection in three of the last four drafts. The Phillies system is towards the bottom of the totem pole, but Wolever deserves credit for producing a lot of B-level prospects in his tenure.
2007 Draft Crystal Ball: Choosing 19th, Wolever could go with another high school pitcher in 2007, as Blake Beaven and/or Michael Main could drop to the Phillies. If not, given their current problems, Casey Weathers makes a lot of sense; the Phillies could probably use Weathers in their troubled bullpen as early as 2008 if need be.

Washington Nationals
Scouting Director: Dana Brown (Drafts Run: 2002-2006)

Best Player Produced: Ryan Zimmerman (1st round, 2005)
Best Prospect in Minors: Christopher Marrero (1st round, 2006)
Notable Steals: Jason Bergmann (11th round, 2002), Marco Estrada (6th round, 2005)
Five-Round Strategy: 25 total picks. 52% college, 40% high school, 4% junior college, 4% Latin.
Strategy in a Nutshell: For most of his tenure, Brown had the hardest job of any scouting director in baseball, picking with the restraints of the game's most limited budget. It led to Brown taking relievers at the top of his draft twice--connecting with Chad Cordero, and perhaps missing with Bill Bray. Since the Expos moved to Washington, Brown's resume looks much better, particularly selecting Zimmerman before going with an otherwise high school-oriented draft in 2006. The addition of Mike Rizzo to the front office as AGM might be a source of some debate internally; during Rizzo's successful tenure in Arizona, few scouting directors picked college players at a higher rate. Combining the talents of Brown and Rizzo in one department is the possibly most interesting combination in a draft room since Logan White worked for Paul DePodesta.
2007 Draft Crystal Ball: The Nationals choose sixth overall this season, and then Brown will also lead off the supplemental first round. At six, I think the Nationals are hoping that Matt Wieters falls to them. If he doesn't, this is the first logical destination for Andrew Brackman. Otherwise, Ross Detwiler and Jarrod Parker are possibilities. At 31, I think outfielder Corey Brown would a great fit for the franchise, and would be a player both Brown and Rizzo can surely agree on.

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

Related Content:  Draft Strategy,  2002,  Best,  Flamethrower,  Strategy

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