As most teams, if not all, we have all begun our formal draft meetings in preparation for the amateur draft (also called the Rule IV Draft) which takes place next Thursday and Friday. All teams prepare a bit differently, but over the next week I'll share some details as to how the Padres do it.
Before getting into a discussion about the draft, or even the players involved, I should begin with the scouts and the structure of the scouting staff. The average team has approximately 15 "area scouts" that are responsible for specific geographic territories in North America (the draft only covers players in the US, Canada, and Puerto Rico). The regions vary greatly in size, as player density is quite different around the country. For instance, I believe every team has two area scouts in Southern California - one for LA County and one for San Diego County. But in most organizations, one scout alone will cover Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico. These area scouts are responsible for creating a draft list of every player in their area that they would like to be on the final draft board. They're also charged with knowing each player in as detailed a fashion as possible, so they'll often see each player in their area many, many times over the course of a few years leading up to the draft in which the player will be eligible.
In addition to the area scouts, many clubs employ two or three "regional crosscheckers" or "area supervisors". These scouts are reponsible for overseeing a larger section of the country, like the East Coast. This scout will cut across the lines of all the area scouts in the East and see all the top players in that region. Obviously, this scout can't possibly get to know each and every player the way the individual area scouts can, but he can do a better job of comparing apples to apples when it comes to draft time since he maintains a wider scope.
Then there are the "national crosscheckers". As you can deduce, these scouts criss-cross the entire country breaking down the top players from every area and region. They are the ones we count on heavily to get the draft board in the right order for draft day. These guys log a staggering amount of frequent flyer miles every year and write hundreds of scouting reports every spring.
The Scouting Director acts as a national crosschecker as well while also coordinating everybody's activities. Often times the Director will help set the schedules of the national crosscheckers and even the area supervisors, as he has the most accurate picture of how the draft may be coming together. On draft day the Director is charged with making the final decision on each pick. This is not an easy task when you consider that we have nearly 1,000 players on our draft board, and the Director can't possibly see even half of them with his own eyes during the course of the spring. It's truly a team effort.
I have to get back into our meetings, but I promise more entries between now and Thursday. For me there is no more exciting time of the year.