Friday, May 30, 2008

Draft #1

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.


Chris said...

Thanks Paul,

This is great stuff. I wish the average fan had more appreciation for what goes on behind the curtain.

Instead, all we hear is "fire Towers, fire Alderson, sell the team"! Knowledgeable fans know better and realize that the players are performing well below expected projections.

We're all just hoping that the improved farm system starts showing dividends sooner rather than later.

field39 said...

How do you factor signability into a players's position on the board?
Can having the wrong agent take a player off the board?

Randy said...

Thank you so much for providing a glimpse into the life so many of us are curious about. This draft analysis is particularly interesting.

TheRevRun said...


Good post, fun to read a little about how the Padres run the scouting department and how that relates to the draft. Good luck in the next week, I am sure it will be very busy for you and your team. We the fans of the Padres are grateful for your effort. Sincerely.

As a fan, I am a little offset by our organization's insistence on bringing in good pitching. Obviously pitching is what wins in October. But pitching is always available and [I believe] more of a crapshoot with regards to a high draft pick becoming a solid major league pitcher for years and years.

I know KT is a former pitcher, so is our fearless manager. Does that have undue influence on the scouts to pay more attention to pitching than hitting? I hope not.

Nearly anybody could be a good pitcher if they start half their games at PETCO. In this years' draft I truly hope you find that POWER HITTER talent. Maybe the next decades' Albert Pujols or whoever that may be.

I like Adrian Gonzalez a lot because he doesn't waste energy on useless movements in the batters box or on the field. I think he will have relatively injury-free career and hopefully a long one for the Padres. He can hit.

Thanks again for this blog. Further evidence that the Padres really are the finest team in America, not just the team playing in America's finest city.


claude said...

Thank you Paul for taking time to interact with us and provide some insight on how organizations operate!

Aaron said...

Great post. I work as a part-time scout in Korea and the first thing I was blown away by is exactly what you're helping reveal in this post -- that the levels of scouting run deep and are so vital to a team. If, say, that Colorado/New Mexico scout doesn't do his job he prevents the entire organization from finding talent. In the end the GM probably takes heat for it, but it's a much more delicate process than most fans realize.
And of course, all of this takes money.

EricInBoston said...

how does one go about becoming a scout without a typical background in baseball?

say.. hypothetically a 26 year old guy in boston wants to work in baseball scouting and evaluating players.. how would i mean he go about that?

Unknown said...

i got to say, if headley, antonelli, venable and huffman are as good as i think they are, this team has a chance to be real good real soon. the pitching is already there.

shake'n'bake said...

Now do you have an alarm on your computer that goes off every time a amateur player's OBP hits .400?

/probably heard that one before

field39 said...

Does the use of corrective lenses raise a red flag, when you rate hitters?

Matt K said...

Great post! Thanks for the valuable insight into the world of the Front Office. It's a dream job for many of us.

I'm an Orioles fan and still find this blog to be tremendously exciting!

Coincidentally, I grew up in Mobile and went to UMS-Wright with a pitcher on your team...I'm sure you know who I'm referring to! Although he transfered to St Paul's!

bullpeners said...

Thanks for the interesting post on the draft. I find the whole thing fascinating and can't wait for Thur and Fri to see what happens. There is an obvious organizational weakness at SS. Do you address that need no matter what or pick the best available athlete when the pick comes up? We have read this is a stronger year for arms. Do you agree with that?

Steve Adler said...

Wish List:

4/5 Tool CF
Power hitting corner outfielder
and of course more pitching

da5id said...

Nit-picking here, but isn't it actually the "Rule 4 draft," rather than "Rule IV?"