Advance Scouting the Directors
If you ask a scouting director what his most important possession is, you are going to receive a lot of different answers. Some will cite their draft board, others their radar guns, and of course the new trend, the laptop. Scouting directors across the majors approach the June Amateur draft differently, with ideologies ranging from all-college to all-project.
While ideologies can change after learning from past mistakes, history does tend to repeat itself. We have seen sabermetric teams consistently draft college players for the last few years, while other teams are finding the A's trash (high school pitchers) to be their treasure. I decided to spend this week looking at the incumbent scouting directors across the Majors, and look for trends in how they have drafted in the past. It is also a good time to see their contributions since being hired, as bad drafts in the past could lead to change (or firing) in the future.
Here is a brief synopsis of the 14 incumbents in the National League...
Cardinals: Marty Maier (2001)
First-Round picks under Maier: Justin Pope (01), Daric Barton (03), Chris Lambert (04)
Best pre-2004 picks (yr-rd): Dan Haren (01-2), Brad Thompson (02-16), Daric Barton (03-1)
Steals, or post-5th round picks: Blake Hawkesworth (01-28), Brad Thompson (02-16), Anthony Reyes (03-15)
Since implementing Maier to run their drafts in 2001, the Cardinals have leaned heavily towards drafting college players. While his first picks in 2002 and 2003 were exceptions to the rule, Maier is almost all college after his first couple picks. If he goes with a high school player early, expect a skill position hitter with good plate discipline. The club has been good at unearthing talent late, and while the farm system is remarkably dry, Maier is hardly a bad person to have running your draft.
Braves: Roy Clark (2000)
First-Round picks under Clark: Adam Wainwright (00), Scott Thorman (00), Kelly Johnson (00), Aaron Herr (00), Macay McBride (01), Josh Burrus (01), Richard Lewis (01), Jeff Francoeur (02), Dan Meyer (02), Luis Atilano (03), Jarrod Saltalmacchia (03)
Best pre-2004 players drafted: Adam LaRoche (00-29), Kyle Davies (01-4), Jeff Francoeur (02-1), Jake Stevens (03-3)
Steals: Adam LaRoche (00-29), no 2001 steal, Chuck James (02-20), Steve Doestch (03-14)
It is pretty obvious after seeing all those first-round picks that the Braves believe in getting compensation from their free agents. Clark has unfortunately had more busts than successes, though Adam Wainwright's AAA flame-out, Kelly Johnson's slow timetable, and many other excuses can't really be blamed on Clark. The Braves have a huge emphasis on high school players, as only Richard Lewis was drafted in the first-round from college. The other well-known Brave emphasis is towards southeast players, particularly those from Georgia. The Braves have produced a great farm system under Clark, though how much of that can be attributed to his drafting and their philosophy could still be questioned.
Diamondbacks: Mike Rizzo (2000)
First-round picks under Rizzo: Jason Bulger (01), Sergio Santos (02), Conor Jackson (03), Carlos Quentin (03), Stephen Drew (04)
Best pre-2004 players drafted: Brandon Webb (00-8), Chad Tracy (01-7), Sergio Santos? (02-1), Carlos Quentin (03-1)
Steals: Brandon Webb (00-8), Chad Tracy (01-7), Dustin Nippert (02-15), no 2003 steal
Talk about college heavy, the Diamondbacks first 19 selections in the 2004 draft were from the NCAA. Sergio Santos was Rizzo's only high school pick, and a shortstop with plus power is always pretty intriguing. Rizzo's drafting looks to have improved greatly since 2000 and 2001, which were both fairly shaky drafts. It appears that Rizzo will use his first pick on Justin Upton this June, but after him, expect the club to draft quite a few college players after Upton.
Padres: Bill Gayton (2001)
First-Round picks under Gayton: Jake Gautreau (01), Khalil Greene (02), Tim Stauffer (03), Matt Bush (04)
Best pre-2004 picks: Josh Barfield (01-4), Khalil Greene (02-1), Tim Stauffer (03-1)
Steals: Jason Bartlett (01-13), George Kottaras (02-20), no 2003 steal
While not as lauded as the A's or Blue Jays, the Padres have always been seen as a saber-savvy team. Their drafting philosophy leans in that direction, as the Padres normally choose college players with their first selections. Each year the team spends a semi-early choice on high schooler, as Barfield and David Pauley can attest. The Matt Bush fiasco should not be blamed on Gayton but instead on Padre ownership, as Gayton was sold on Stephen Drew weeks before the draft. Don't expect a first-round high school mistake this year.
Marlins: Jim Fleming (2003)
First-round picks under Fleming: Jeff Allison (03), Taylor Tankersly (04)
Best pre-2004 picks: Logan Kensing (03-2)
Steals: no 2003 steal
After a fantastic run with the Devil Rays that is just starting to give Tampa dividends, Fleming moved to the Marlins for the 2003 draft. His first Marlin draft looks like it might have been a bust, as Jeff Allison ran into drugs and few other players have developed as Fleming foresaw. 2004 should yield a little better crop, and expect even more as the future, as Fleming is very highly regarded. He looks unafraid to shy away from drafting any player, as a high school pitcher like Allison can testify.
Nationals: Dana Brown (2002)
First-Round picks under Brown: Clint Everts (02), Chad Cordero (03), Bill Bray (04)
Best pre-2004 players drafted: Clint Everts (02-1), Chad Cordero (03-1),
Steals: no steals
Give Brown some credit, this is a guy that was hired on a whim in 2002. He was given both a small staff and a smaller budget at his fingerprints, and managed to make his first two first-round picks count. Everts' injury was unfortunate, but Cordero looks to be one of the best picks from 2003 so far. None of Brown's drafts have had any depth, which I think is fair to attribute to his payroll problem. It appears as though this will be the first season in which dollars aren't superbly constraining, so Brown should start being graded from here forward. It looks as though Brown drafts according to best player on the board, with an eye towards holes in his system. Look for a hitter this year.
Dodgers: Logan White (2002)
First-round picks under White: James Loney (02), Greg Miller (02), Chad Billingsley (03), Scott Elbert (04), Blake DeWitt (04), Justin Orenduff (04)
Best pre-2004 players drafted: Greg Miller (02-1), Chad Billingsley (03-1)
Steals: Russ Martin (02-7), Andy LaRoche (03-39)
What is very interesting about White is the fact that he has gotten so much press, but still has not produced a Los Angeles Dodger through his drafts. Baseball America has ranked all of White's drafts highly, likely because he caters to the high school heavy philosophy that BA tends to support. White has proven that he -- not Paul DePodesta -- will be drafting in Los Angeles, though expect a few DePo sleepers to sneak into the later rounds. Logan White is as well thought of as any scouting director in the business, and is a few less injuries from creating a star-studded resume. Expect the high school picks in the first round to continue.
Mets: Have hired Russ Bove for the 2005 draft
Brewers: Jack Zduriencik (2000)
First-round picks under Zduriencik: Dave Krynzel (00), Mike Jones (01), Prince Fielder (02), Rickie Weeks (03), Mark Rogers (04)
Best pre-2004 players drafted: Krynzel (00-1), J.J. Hardy (01-2), Prince Fielder (02-1), Rickie Weeks (03-1)
Steals: no 2000 steal, Chris Saenz (01-28), Dana Eveland (02-16), Ty Taubenheim (03-19)
Speaking of highly regarded scouting directors, few come more respected in the baseball business than Zduriencik. Known to stick to his draft board more than anyone, Jake is one of the many contributors that are taking part in a good-looking Milwaukee rebuilding process. But also like Logan White, not a lot of players drafted under the current scouting director have made the Majors (Krynzel and Weeks' Sep. call-ups). Milwaukee has two of the best prospects in the business in Fielder and Weeks, and their development is essential to Milwaukee returning to glory. Contrary to popular belief the Brewers will spend on the draft, Zduriencik sticks with his board, and Milwaukee is a little weak in the pitching department. Boras candidate anyone?
Giants: Matt Nerland (1999)
First-round picks under Nerland: Kurt Ainsworth (99), Jerome Williams (99), Boof Bonser (00), Brad Hennessey (01), Noah Lowry (01), Todd Linden (01), Matt Cain (02), David Aardsma (03), Craig Whitaker (03)
Best pre-2004 players drafted: Jerome Williams (99-1), Jason Ellison (00-22), Noah Lowry (01-1), Matt Cain (02-1), Nate Schierholtz (03-2)
Steals: no 1999 steal, Jason Ellison (00-22), Ryan Meaux (01-25), Clay Hensley (02-8), no 2003 steal
Ignoring the Giants recent 'We don't need no stinkin' first-round pick' ideology, the previous thought was to go pitching-heavy early. The Giants loaded up with pitching in from 1999-2003, and had some great prospects from Ainsworth to Williams to Foppert and now to Cain. Either the club believes that hitting is a commodity that can be discovered in later rounds, or one that can be paid for at the Major League level. When you team Brian Sabean's desire to trade big pitching prospects and the Nerland ideology, not a lot of his blue chippers are going to make the Majors. Expect role players like Lance Niekro and Ellison to make impacts, and Nerland has still left enough young pitchers in the farm system for Sabean to pick and choose.
Pirates: Ed Creech (2002)
First-round picks under Creech: Brian Bullington (02-1), Paul Maholm (03-1), Neil Walker (04-1)
Best pre-2004 players drafted: Brad Eldred (02-6), Tom Gorzelanny (03-2),
Steals: Brad Eldred (02-6), no 2003 steals
Plain and simple, the Pirates screwed up badly in 2002 drafting Ball State right-hander Brian Bullington ahead of prep shortstop B.J. Upton. But new scouting director Ed Creech saved face by publicly stating that he liked Upton better, but was both alone within the franchise and didn't have the pocketbook to stomach the pick. Creech has not really shown many tendencies with the Pirates, though it's obvious that he is constrained by his budget. Neil Walker last June broke a short trend of college pitchers, though I believe that was more geared at tuning the farm system than anything else. Creech will go with the best discount player on the board, and could be one more bust away from joining the unemployed list.
Cubs: John Stockstill (1999)
First-round picks under Stockstill: Ben Christensen (99), Luis Montanez (00), Mark Prior (01), Bobby Brownlie (02), Luke Hagerty (02), Chadd Blasko (02), Matt Clanton (02), Ryan Harvey (03)
Best pre-2004 players drafted: Steve Smyth (99-4), Dontrelle Willis (00-8), Mark Prior (01-1), Brian Dopirak (02-2), Ryan Harvey (03-1)
Steals: no 1999 steal, Dontrelle Willis (00-8), Brendan Harris (01-5), Adam Greenberg (02-9), Sean Marshall (03-6)
The longest tenured NL scouting director, John Stockstill has both success stories and blemishes on his resume. Most consistent in his ideology is the tendency to draft players that have slipped due to economic concerns, using the Chicago market to his advantage. Stockstill also tends to spend late-round picks on players generally seen as hard to sign, and many are names that tend to pop up again: Khalil Greene, Taylor Teagarden, Jeff Larish, etc. Stockstill was unfortunate to come right before the Corey Pattersons and Kerry Woods were drafted, and also is likely bummed that Jim Hendry chose to include Dontrelle Willis in the Matt Clement trade. I'm not sure that Stockstill will have a lot more drafts with the Cubs at this pace, but expect more of the draft-the-undraftable strategy to continue in 2005.
Phillies: Marti Wolevar (2002)
First-round picks under Wolevar: Cole Hamels (02), Greg Golson (04)
Best pre-2004 players drafted: Cole Hamels (02-1), Michael Bourn (03-2)
Steals: Jake Blalock (02-5), no 2003 steals
Of all the men on this list, Wolevar probably has the least impressive resume. The best player Marti has drafted is Hamels, currently on the shelf and flush with make-up and injury knocks. After that the list drops to someone of Michael Bourn caliber, a player that has no dream of making my top 100 prospects. This is quite concerning for a Phillie team that is aging quite fast, and will find their system particularly dry once the likes of Gavin Floyd and Ryan Howard (both before Wolevar) come through. We have seen him use his highest pick on a high school pitcher, college infielder and high school outfielder, so the best ideological guess is best player on the board.
Astros: Hired J.D. Elliby for the 2005 draft
Reds: Terry Reynolds (2004)
First-round pick under Reynolds: Homer Bailey (04)
Last season was Reynolds first draft, and it went pretty well as the club picked up the nation's best prep pitcher (Bailey), a toolsy college player (B.J. Szymanski) as well as a polished college shortstop (Paul Janish). Reynolds was all over the board with his draft, but appears to lean towards projects, as both Bailey and Szymanski were drafted years from the big leagues. With that being said, the Reds could use reinforcements quickly, and with a fairly weak farm system, we could see that ideology change the second time around.
Rockies: Bill Schmidt (2000)
First-round picks under Schmidt: Matt Harrington (00), Jayson Nix (01), Jeff Francis (02), Ian Stewart (03-1), Chris Nelson (04-1)
Best pre-2004 players drafted: Clint Barmes (00-10), Cory Sullivan (01-7), Jeff Francis (02-1), Ian Stewart (03-1)
Steals: Clint Barmes (00-10), Cory Sullivan (01-7), Jeff Salazar (02-8), no 2003 steal
The last three drafts have gone nicely for Schmidt, who has picked up three good young players in Francis, Stewart and Nelson. The main problem for Schmidt has been drafting solid players that went unsigned, as seen by Matt Harrington in 2000 and Micah Owings in 2002. Add both those players to the farm system and you have much more depth than what the current system is offering, which is benefitting from a good overseas program. It seems as though Schmidt has decided to go with prep players earlier in the draft (most of the time), while shifting to college players in the middle rounds.
I'll be back tomorrow with the American League directors...