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Pro Scouts Dissect The Draft

MLB.com asked several scouting directors to share their approach to the Draft

Reprinted from: Major League Baseball.Com
By Gregg Klayman
MLB.com

Q: How does your lineup on the field today affect your draft strategy?

It really doesn't affect our strategy. Our draft is different that the NFL or NBA because we are looking 3-4 years down the road. The other leagues are looking for immediate help.
Unnamed AL scout

At this juncture our strategy is not at all affected by our current lineup. Our strategy is more based on where our depth and weaknesses in our minor league system lie.
Bill Gayton, San Diego Padres

The current Major League lineup does not effect the strategy we use in the draft much. Mostly we use the best player available strategy. The exception to this is if an aging player on the ML club has limited time left and the draft would fill a void quickly.
Mike Rizzo, Arizona Diamondbacks

Our current lineup has no impact on our draft strategy. Unlike the NFL & NBA, MLB's draft is not a needs draft. It is a tools/ability draft. Due to the ever-changing landscape at the Major League level (trades, free agency, many forms of player movement), what might be a strength today could be a weakness in the near future.
John Mirabelli, Cleveland Indians

In most drafts, the Major League team's personnel makeup would not effect how the draft is approached. However, in 2001 with the organization having the first overall selection, the Twins' current lineup is a part of the equation. The 2001 draft crop does have a few players that can legitimately effect the makeup of the current 25-man and 40-man rosters, thus, with the first pick we must consider the ramifications of adding a talent that can possibly have very immediate impact on the Major League team.
Mike Radcliff, Minnesota Twins

I think you have to look at your concerns that need to be filled at the Major League level, but realize that this year's high draft picks are still 2-3 years away if they are college players. You still need to concentrate on taking the best prospect available.
Tim Hallgren, Texas Rangers

We try and focus on acquiring the best available player. What we have currently on our Major League team is not necessarily what will be here in five years.
Bill Schmidt, Colorado Rockies

I don't believe our lineup has a true impact on our draft strategy. I think our overall minor league system is a better indication of what our focus might be.
Greg Smith, Detroit Tigers

It does not affect the way we draft. We select the best players available when it is our turn to pick.
Al Avila, Florida Marlins

Today's lineup doesn't affect our draft strategy at all because by the time draft picks reach the majors, our lineup could be totally different.
Rob Holiday, Philadelphia Phillies

Q: What are the regions you scout the most?

You scout where the players are. When you go into the year, you have a game plan of what your guys have told you from the previous summer and fall. You focus on where the pockets of talent lie. You don't scout one region more than the other. It changes from year to year. A few years back, the Northwest was exceptionally good. Everyone scouted it, and there were quite a few drafts out of that area.

Typically it is the warm weather states - California, Florida, Texas - simply because they play more baseball. However, different years produce different players, such as the Northwest cited earlier.

You try to do an equal job everywhere, but the history of the draft tells you that the warm weather states produce the most players.
Unnamed AL scout

The regions that I have focused on more are California, Florida, Texas and the Gulf Coast regions that swing around up the coast to the Carolina's. We don't underestimate the importance of the other areas, but we can get a more polished prospect with better odds of overachieving and reaching the ML level. Bill Gayton, San Diego Padres

The regions scouted the most in order of importance are California, Florida/Georgia and the Carolinas. Mike Rizzo, Arizona Diamondbacks

We scout the areas where the best players are in that given year. Each draft year brings a completely different market of players.
John Mirabelli, Cleveland Indians

Every team must incorporate a strategy to effectively cover all of the regions of the country efficiently and thoroughly. Obviously Florida and southern California are and have been hotbeds for amateur talent available for the draft-we, along with every other team scout these areas early and often. Good players can come from anywhere; therefore, a good scouting department must employ a system that has flexibility to adjust and see prospects from all over the country. The quality and experience level of each of your scouts also effects the productivity of any particular region.
Mike Radcliff, Minnesota Twins

The top three are California, Texas and Florida. Due to weather, teams in those states get a lot earlier starts. However, it depends on the year as to which of these states has the better crop of prospects.
Tim Hallgren, Texas Rangers

Most of our time in the spring is spent in the "sunbelt region", not that we don't get up into colder areas. We will go were ever there is a player.
Bill Schmidt, Colorado Rockies

We focus our attention on where the premium prospects are coming from. Generally speaking, we do spend a lot of time in California, Florida and Texas, and also the Carolinas.
Greg Smith, Detroit Tigers

In February and March we scout heavily in Florida, California and Texas. In April and May we scout the Northeast, the North Midwest and the Northwest. That has to do with the weather and things like that.
Al Avila, Florida Marlins

We scout the Sunbelt and the other warm weather areas the most.
Rob Holiday, Philadelphia Phillies

Q: When it gets to the 30th or 42nd round, how do you know what you are doing?

You trust your area scouts. You ask them to do the best job they can, and you trust their judgments.
Unnamed AL scout

Preparation, read reports, composite overall future potential, pre-draft meetings.
Bill Gayton, San Diego Padres

In the later rounds I am mostly drafting on a needs basis, but there are many big leaguers still in these rounds.
Mike Rizzo, Arizona Diamondbacks

Every player we scout is ranked according to ability. We attempt to max-out, take the best player available, every round.
John Mirabelli, Cleveland Indians

A variety of factors impact how an organization perceives the later rounds of each draft. We have always used the motivating approach that there are still big leaguers on the board when the second day of the draft begins. Often it requires more analysis, more imagination, and more trust in your area scouts' evaluations; but our approach is to draft with the intention of signing Major League players. Position, age, makeup are also key factors in later round draft selections.
Mike Radcliff, Minnesota Twins

We stress to our area scouts that this part of the draft is very important, too. There is always someone selected in those rounds who will be a Major League player.
Tim Hallgren, Texas Rangers

When we get deeper into the draft, we are still looking to get a potential Major League player. You are still looking for a tool or potential tool that will allow that player to have value to our organization.
Bill Schmidt, Colorado Rockies

After our scouts have turned in their final draft lists and we have our meetings, we proceed to rank all players that we have in for the upcoming draft. After completing this ranking, which is done based on position played, then we draft accordingly. These rankings take us through the entire draft process. Greg Smith, Detroit Tigers

You have to trust your area scouts and what they have to say. We plan ahead with the info that they give us on the players that they see.
Al Avila, Florida Marlins

When we get to the 30th round or above we usually try to fill the needs of our minor league clubs or take a chance on a player with questionable signability.
Rob Holiday, Philadelphia Phillies

Q: If you have any "sleepers" or guys that you've scouted, that you don't think other teams have - do you wait to pick him and risk someone else taking him, or do you pick him higher up to avoid the risk of losing him to another team?

There are no real "sleepers" anymore. We are limited to 50 rounds, and a lot of people do a good job, so there aren't many sleepers. Just like any other player that you want, you have to wait on and gamble. You just have to make a gut call. That is what it comes down to.
Unnamed AL scout

It depends upon the "sleeper", the region he's from, the scout who is recommending, the type of tools the prospect possesses and many other factors.
Bill Gayton, San Diego Padres

The area scout is vital in these situations. If he is a true sleeper then it is possible to wait to a certain round, but if you really want and like this player, the risk does not often outweigh the reward. It is a real gut-feel situation and experience is the key.
Mike Rizzo, Arizona Diamondbacks

Part of identifying any prospect is to try and identify & gauge the competition. Ask - At what point (maximum & minimum round) would you consider selecting any player?
John Mirabelli, Cleveland Indians

The age of the "sleeper" is all but over. It is seldom that only one or two teams know of a hidden talent somewhere across the land. It is more common to realize that your staff might like or value a player more than the other teams, thus, it becomes apparent that you have a better chance to select a prospect. This allows a team to concentrate on a few particular players and thoroughly research them for potential selection.
Mike Radcliff, Minnesota Twins

You slot them in the draft based on information from your area scouts and crosscheckers. It is always better to overdraft these type of players to make sure you get them, because usually these type of players are the ones that your area guy works hard all year to get.
Tim Hallgren, Texas Rangers

If we a have a "sleeper" or a player that we know not many organizations are on to, we will select that player in an area of the draft that we feel comfortable with. We might let him slide a little bit, but we're going to make sure we get that player. Bill Schmidt, Colorado Rockies

I think the entire purpose of the draft is to select guys where you need to, in order to get them, whether it is in the first or second rounds or as late as the 35th or 36th rounds.
Greg Smith, Detroit Tigers

You wait till the later rounds, but not too late. You have to have a sense of when to pick them. However, you don't want to risk losing that player especially if you like him better than the rest of the players you have on your board.
Al Avila, Florida Marlins

With "sleepers" it depends on how much we like the player that will determine how quickly we'll take him.
Rob Holiday, Philadelphia Phillies


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