Advance Scouting the Directors (Pt. 2)
Yesterday, we saw that scouting directors can have all sorts of strategies. Some are ruled by their budgets, while others are beneiftted from large wallets. Some like the polish that college players offer, while traditionalists love the high school ceiling. Some prefer taking pitching early, some won't venture into that risky territory. And that was just the NL directors.
Today we'll look at the AL group, where there are 12 incumbents, including a pair of the longest tenured directors. Again, here is the list, organized by organizational record...
White Sox: Duane Shaffer (2001)
First-round picks under Shaffer: Kris Honel (01), Wyatt Allen (01), Royce Ring (02), Brian Anderson (03), Josh Fields (04), Tyler Lumsden (04), Gio Gonzalez (04)
Best pre-2004 players drafted (yr-rd): Chris Young (01-16), Jeremy Reed (02-2), Brian Anderson (03-1)
Pre-2004 steals, or post-5th round picks: Chris Young (01-16), Brandon McCarthy (02-17), Antoin Gray (03-25)
I am giving Shaffer credit for running the White Sox draft since 2001, but there is reason to argue he has been doing so since 1991. On the White Sox site, it says, "Shaffer was the White Sox scouting director for 10 seasons (1991-2000) before serving as senior director of scouting in 2001. He was promoted to senior director of player personnel in February 2002." If you include the 90s on Shaffer's resume, it might be even more damning, as the Sox were very bad in the first round. Of the 20 picks they had in those ten seasons, Kip Wells, Rocky Biddle and Aaron Rowand are the best. Only five of the players were ever regulars. But Shaffer's strong suit seems to be finding players in the mid-rounds, and his first-round talents seem to have improved in recent years. The Sox don't lean in any direction in the first, though maybe the team has begun to learn from one too many pitching busts.
Orioles: Joe Jordan has been hired for the 2005 draft.
Red Sox: Jason McLeod (2004)
No first-round picks under McLeod.
The Red Sox did not have a first-round pick in Jason McLeod's first draft last June, but he sure made it count after that. Second round pick Dustin Pedroia looks like a potential everyday player up the middle. After that, players Andrew Dobies, Tommy Hottovy, Cla Maredith and Mike Rozier all look like potential contributors. Unsurprisingly the Red Sox veer towards college players, though their largest 2004 bonus was to Rozier, a player that slid due to economic concerns. Should McLeod be able to continue to stockpile college players early in the draft, and prep slippers late in the draft, the Sox should continue to bolster what was once a weak farm system.
Twins: Mike Radcliffe (1994)
First-round picks under Radcliffe: Todd Walker (94), Travis Miller (94), Mark Redman (95), Travis Lee (96), Michael Cuddyer (97), Matt LeCroy (97), Ryan Mills (98), B.J. Garbe (99), Adam Johnson (00), Aaron Heilman (00), Joe Mauer (01), Denard Span (02), Matt Moses (03), Trevor Ploufe (04), Glen Perkins (04), Kyle Waldrop (04), Matt Fox (04), Jay Rainville (04)
Best pre-2004 players drafted: Corey Koskie (94-26), Mark Redman (95-1), Jacque Jones (96-2), Matt LeCroy (97-1), Juan Padilla (98-24), Justin Morneau (99-3), J.D. Durbin (00-2), Joe Mauer (01-1), Jesse Crain (02-2), Scott Baker (03-2)
Steals: Corey Koskie (94-26), Doug Mientkiewicz (95-5), Mike Lincoln (96-13), no 1997 steal, Juan Padilla (98-24), Terry Tiffee (99-26), Jason Kubel (00-12), no 2001 steal, Adam Harben (02-15), Errol Simonitsch (03-6)
There may not be a scouting director more respected in the business than Mike Radcliffe. With apologies to Duane Shaffer, Radcliffe is the longest tenured director in the game. What amazes me most about him is that -- even with the Twins successful rebuild -- Radcliffe's name never comes up for General Manager or high-profile scouting director positions. Radcliffe has been remarkably solid with his first round picks in eleven years, with the only problem being Carl Pohlad's budget during that time. The Twins lean heavily towards high school players, though have proven that they will choose a college pitcher every once in awhile. Radcliffe has also had quite a few steals over the years, so be sure to always have your eyes on everyone Minnesota drafts.
Angels: Eddie Bane (2004)
First-round picks under Bane: Jered Weaver (04)
Despite having been a well respected scout in the Angel system for years, 'director' was not attached to Bane's name until late in 2003. Maybe the most famous scouting director for his recent involvement in the scouts v. stats debate, Bane was also named by Will Carroll as one of the next batch of Major League general managers. Bane's comments from the debate lead me to believe that the Angels will be high school-heavy in their draft efforts, but like in 2004, will recognize if a very good college player is left on the board. Bane should also benefit from Arte Moreno, who led the club to sign first round-caliber talents Nick Adenhart and Mark Trumbo in the later rounds.
Blue Jays: Jon Lalonde (2004)
First-round picks under Lalonde: David Purcey (04), Zach Jackson (04)
What is interesting about the Blue Jays is that of all the Major League teams I looked at, their general manager seems to have the most hands-on approach to the draft. Lalonde looks to be a product of philosophy more than anything else, a young man with a limited scouting history that buys into the Blue Jays college-first mentality. My belief is that J.P. Riccardi will continue to be top dog on draft day, which means that the team is not going to shy away from collegiate players. For more information on Lalonde, check out this Batter's Box interview shortly after his promotion.
Rangers: Ron Hopkins (2003)
First-round picks under Hopkins: John Danks (03), Thomas Diamond (04)
Best pre-2004 players drafted: John Danks (03-1)
Steals: Ian Kinsler (03-17)
With Grady Fuson gone this year, Ron Hopkins will finally get the chance to emerge from his shadow. Fuson pretty much led the Rangers' drafting efforts the past two seasons, but Hopkins has had the title of scouting director. Both men came from the Oakland A's, Sandy Alderson era, meaning that it will take a special high school player to make the Rangers not look to the NCAA. John Danks proves that they will do so, every once in awhile, but it would hardly be smart to go into the draft expecting it.
Yankees: Gordon Blakeley (2003)
First-round picks under Blakeley: Eric Duncan (03), Phillip Hughes (04), Jon Poterson (04), Jeff Marquez (04)
Best pre-2004 players drafted: Eric Duncan (03)
Steals: Tyler Clippard (03-8)
Another confusing title, as Blakeley is officially listed as "senior vice president of player personnel." He took over the position for Mark Newman in January of 2003, but Newman continues to have a presence over the Yankee drafts. The Yankees system went extremely bare under Newman, but has had two solid drafts in a row under new leadership. Look for the Yankees to use their extra dollars when it counts, and also expect (in the long run, maybe not this year) more high school players than those from college.
Tigers: Hired David Chadd for the 2005 draft.
Indians: John Mirabelli (2000)
First-round picks under Mirabelli: Corey Smith (00), Derek Thompson (00), Dan Denham (01), Alan Horne (01), J.D. Martin (01), Mike Conroy (01), Jeremy Guthrie (02), Matt Whitney (02), Micah Schilling (02), Michael Aubrey (03), Brad Snyder (03), Adam Miller (03), Jeremy Sowers (04)
Best pre-2004 players drafted: Brian Tallet (00-2), J.D. Martin (01-1), Jeremy Guthrie (02-1), Michael Aubrey (03-1)
Steals: Ryan Church (00-14), Luke Scott (01-9), Nick Pesco (02-25), no 2003 steal
While Mirabelli has been the product of an organization that stockpiles draft picks, the Indians have not received great return under his rule. His first three drafts went pretty horribly, and while 2003 could make up for it all, the Adam Miller injury certainly hurt. Mirabelli is in a young braintrust running the Cleveland Indians, run more supremely by GM Mark Shapiro and assistant Chris Antonetti. The Indians will always lean towards college players, but the team has shown they will never shy away from high schoolers in the early rounds.
Athletics: Eric Kubota (2002)
First-round picks under Kubota: Nick Swisher (02), Joe Blanton (02), John McCurdy (02), Ben Fritz (02), Jeremy Brown (02), Steve Obenchain (02), Mark Teahen (02), Brad Sullivan (03), Brian Snyder (03), Omar Quintanilla (03)
Best pre-2004 players drafted: Joe Blanton (02-1), Omar Quintanilla (03-1)
Steals: no 2002 steals, no 2003 steals
Kubota became scouting director before the infamous Moneyball draft, which of course was hardly the success that Michael Lewis boasted. The A's have actually struggled in the first round the past few years, though I'm not sure what influence Kubota has on the draft. There is very little question on what to expect from the A's, and that is all college, all the time.
Mariners: Bob Fontaine (2004)
No first-round picks under Fontaine
In his first draft atop the Mariner scouting department, Bob Fontaine had to wait until the third round to choose. However, it looks like he made the choice count, as Matt Tuiasosopo looks to be a solid prospect. It is hard to tell what direction Fontaine will take the Mariners, though Bill Bavasi has always tended to lean in the high school direction. Trying to interpret Fontaine is similar to the newest batch, as we simply don't have enough evidence to make any conclusive comments.
Devil Rays: Cam Bonifay (2002)
First-round picks under Bonifay: B.J. Upton (02), Delmon Young (03), Jeff Niemann (04)
Best pre-2004 players drafted: B.J. Upton (02-1), Delmon Young (03-1)
Steals: Joey Gomes (02-8), Chad Orvella (03-13)
Bonifay has taken the unconventional route to scouting director, having served eight years prior to the job as a general manager for the Pirates. Bonifay was blamed largely for the Pirates demise from National League contender to the bottom feeder that offers fans little besides a beautiful park. But, Bonifay (like Gord Ash in Milwaukee) seems to be succeeding in a new environment, having made his early picks count with Tampa. While he had inherited a good team in the Pirates in the early 90s, it appears that Bonifay may be best suited to be in rebuilding mode. It looks like Cam tends to lean towards choosing high school players, but numerous picks with the Pirates -- and the Niemann selection -- prove that he will also draft NCAA kids given the right scenario.
Royals: Deric Ladnier (2001)
First-round picks under Ladnier: Colt Griffin (01), Zack Greinke (02), Chris Lubanski (03), Billy Butler (04), Matt Campbell (04), J.P. Howell (04)
Best pre-2004 players drafted: no good 2001 choice, Zack Greinke (02-1), Mitch Maier (03-2)
Steals: no 2001 steal, Donnie Murphy (02-5), Luis Cota (03-10)
Ladnier has had an odd run with the Royals, struggling in the draft in 2001 and 2003, but looks like he will succeed in 2002 and 2004. The trick is that while the Royals picked four high school players from 01-04, there are fundamental differences between the all-tool combination of Griffin and Lubanski, and the cerebral Greinke and Butler. If Ladnier learns from his mistakes and starts choosing heady players, look for more successes down the road. Also not to be outdone, the team brought in well-respected Denny Rowland last August to help with the 2004 draft. Remember that there are always economic concerns in Kansas City, but if Ladnier can have his choice, he'd probably always draft a smart, high school prodigy.