Friday, June 27, 2008

Jonathan Galvez

There have been a few questions that have come in regarding Jonathan Galvez, a high profile signing by the Padres last year in the Dominican Republic.

Galvez (also known as Spraud) is an athletic 6'2" shortstop who just turned 17 in January. Galvez participated in the Arizona Instructional League last fall in Peoria as a 16-year old, and based on his play this summer, he must be anxious to get back there.

The Dominican Summer League (DSL) does not produce big offensive statistics. The DSL is not akin to amateur baseball in the United States in which players routinely have a .400 average with a bunch of home runs. Actually, it's the converse. These are young kids, anywhere from 16-19 who are not yet fully developed physically and yet are playing with wood bats on Major League size fields. Furthermore, the pitchers are usually much more advanced than the hitters, throwing with good velocity and mixing in some off-speed pitches, and they see these advanced pitchers day in and day out.

I would say that the first cousin of the Dominican Summer League is the Cape Cod League, the preeminent college wood bat summer league. As in the Dominican, the players in the Cape are essentially the all-stars from around the country, and they compete against each other every day (unlike a typical amateur schedule which is only a few days a week of games) with wood bats. Due to all of these factors, offensive numbers from the Cape are typically well below that of a normal minor league circuit.

So, imagine the Cape Cod League, but take four years of age and physical development of off the players, and you can understand why even the best offensive players post pedestrian statistics.

Jonathan Galvez is hitting .395 with a .544 obp and a .698 slg.

To be fair, Galvez has played in 18 games so far this summer, so these numbers have not been compiled over 500 plate appearances. That said, his performance to date is extremely rare. The most exciting part for us is that he is a well-rounded player with an advanced approach. He has hit for average and power all while drawing walks and also stealing bases. Our player development staff in the Dominican should be very proud of how they have been able to advance Jonathan's talent in a very short period of time.

We have a handful of other players currently playing well in the DSL, and we're hopeful that a number of them can take the step to the US next spring. Maybe sometime after July 2nd (the international signing date) I'll spend more time profiling a group of them.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Today's a Great Day

Every day that you get to go to the yard is a great day, but today is particularly special. Today is the first day that the Padres organization has a full slate of eight games. Our teams in San Diego, Portland, San Antonio, Lake Elsinore, Fort Wayne, Eugene, Peoria, and the Dominican Republic all have games today.

A couple of the games (Fort Wayne and the DR) are already over, two (San Diego and Peoria) and under way, and we have four more throughout the afternoon and evening. Though it doesn't come with the same fanfare, today is the equivalent of New Year's Day for college football fans, and I look forward to it every year.


Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Baseball is a trying game.

I've been ridiculously lucky on multiple fronts during the course of my career: 1) to be working in baseball at all, 2) to be associated with some great organizations and people, and 3) to have had the opportunity to go to the playoffs a bunch of times. In short, I'm spoiled.

That said, despite multiple 100-win seasons, and a bunch of Division titles, I have never had a season go smoothly from beginning to end. It's always been a rollercoaster. Of course, that is part of the fun, but it's not so much fun when you're in the trough section. People have often said things to me like, "You have the greatest job in the world" or "I would do anything to have your job." I jokingly say, "That's exactly what I thought before I got it." The reality is that these jobs are incredibly painful when you've lost seven out of eight.

At this point I'm not sure what is more frustrating: the fact that we're not playing the way we know we can or the fact that despite our disappointing play we're still just 8 games out of first. Don't get me wrong, we're incredibly fortunate to be that close given our performance, so we should be thankful, but it compounds the frustration because we should be in a better position.

I know our fans share our frustration. The last good stretch when we won seven out of eight was during our last homestand, so hopefully we'll be able to pull off a similar run during this homestand and get back to the fun part of the job.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

AA Rotation

At the beginning of the season, we sent three starting pitchers to AA San Antonio whom Baseball America had ranked among our top 30 prospects: Steve Garrison #6, Will Inman #7, and Matt Buschmann #21. All three have lived up to expectations, and another pitcher has forced himself into the group.

Right now four members of the San Antonio rotation rank in the top six in ERA in the Texas League. Will Inman is 2nd (3.00 ERA) , Steve Garrison 3rd (3.09 ERA), Stephen Faris 5th (3.46 ERA), and Matt Buschmann 6th (3.48 ERA). They have combined to pitch 302 innings while yielding 270 hits and striking out 282 batters. What's even more impressive, though, is what they have done in the month of June. Here are the splits:

Inman 2.01 ERA, 22.1 ip, 15 h, 10 bb, 21 k
Garrision 1.44 ERA, 25 ip, 20 h, 4 bb, 28 k
Faris 1.08 ERA, 25 ip, 18 h, 1 bb, 27 k
Buschmann 2.05 ERA, 22 ip, 19 h, 11 bb, 16 k

That's a 1.62 ERA in 94.1 innings. It looks like we have a good race for pitcher of the month.

What is particularly interesting about this foursome is that despite sharing a similar level of success, they are very different pitchers.

Will Inman is a 21-year old right-hander who was drafted out of Tunstall High School in Virginia. Over the course of his career Will has been a strikeout pitcher, posting 454 k's in just 395 innings. Though he doesn't have overwhelming velocity, he combines command, deception, and an excellent curveball to rack up the strikeouts. Furthermore, Will's feel for pitching belies his age, as he has an advanced feel for disrupting the timing and comfort of hitters. Inman had ERA's of 1.91, 1.71, and 1.72 in rookie ball and the two A-ball levels, respectively.

Though Steve Garrison is like Inman in that he's also just 21 years old, was a high school draft (from the Hun School in New Jersey), and came over to the Padres from the Brewers in the Linebrink deal, Garrison is the only left-hander among the four. Unlike Inman, Garrison hasn't been a strikeout pitcher per se during his minor league career, though he strikes out plenty of hitters. Rather, Garrison has a four pitch mix (FB, CB, SL, and CH) that he throws for strikes (has allowed just 2.1 walks per in his career) to keep hitters on the defensive. Very consistent, Garrison has allowed more than three earned runs in a start just twice this season while allowing zero or one run six times.

Stephen Faris is a 23-year old whom the Padres drafted out of Clemson in the 12th round of the 2006 draft. Always a good strikethrower, Stephen made a big jump this year to the Missions. Last year he spent the bulk of the season in low class A Fort Wayne, but Grady Fuson felt he could join the rotation in AA this year. He certainly hasn't disappointed, as his walks and hits allowed have gone down while his strikeouts have jumped. His moving fastball and command have stymied the Texas League so far, especially in June.

The oldest of the group at 24 (and the biggest at 6'3") Matt Buschmann was drafted by the Padres in the 15th round of the 2006 draft out of Vanderbilt. Matt features a sinker/slider combination that helped him post a 2.89 ERA in 149 innings last year as a starter at High-A Lake Elsinore. Though all four of these guys have impressive strikeout-to-walk ratios, Buschmann's is the best at 3.79 for his career.

These guys may all do it a little differently and with different pitches, but they are all very good strikethrowers just like our three young guys in AAA: Josh Geer, Cesar Ramos, and Wade LeBlanc. Hopefully, all four of these guys can continue to challenge each other and eventually make their way here to Petco.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


Jaff Decker is the newest member of the Padres.

Today we officially signed Jaff Decker, our second pick in the 2008 Draft and the #42 pick overall. As mentioned previously, Jaff was both a left-handed pitcher and left-handed hitting outfielder in high school. If you watch this clip, though, you'll understand why we see him as a hitter.

We feel Jaff's bat was one of the most polished high school bats in the country, so we're very excited to have Jaff signed.

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Past Week

While the past week has not been a good one for the Major League club, it's been quite the opposite for a trio of our young position player prospects who are all in AAA for the first time.

Over the past seven games Matt Antonelli, Nick Hundley, and Will Venable have been raking. Here is how it breaks out:

Antonelli: .407 avg, .484 obp, .481 slg
Hundley: .345 avg, .387 obp, .483 slg
Venable: .375 avg, .423 obp, .625 slg

Small sample size? Absolutely. Nonetheless, it's encouraging to see all of these guys playing well at this point in the year.

As players move up levels, there is usually an adjustment period. This doesn't always happen, but it's expected to happen, especially when we feel as though we are pushing guys. In this particular case, there was a fair argument for starting all three of these players in AA this season: Antonelli had just a partial season above A-ball, while both Hundley and Venable basically jumped High-A to go to AA last year which was a leap in itself. However, our player development staff believed all three were ready for the challenge of AAA.

When we make a move like that with a player, the month of June is an important one. If a player has struggled early for whatever reason (tougher league, bad weather, more travel, etc), we want to see some improvement as the season continues. For instance, when we pushed Hundley to AA last year his first three months looked like this:

April: .206 avg, .264 obp, .365 slg
May: .250 avg, .321 obp, .460 slg
June: .280 avg, .349 obp, .560 slg

It's usually not so obvious (or so linear), but by the end of June it was clear that Nick had found his stride in AA. Here's the key point: Nick's performance trend showed us that facing the better competition was making him better, not beating him down.

We talked about this a bit in the Headley discussion, and there were some great comments on the subject. In short, there's always a fine line between challenging a player so that he can continue his development and challenging a player to the point of frustration and loss of confidence. In the case of Antonelli, Hundley, and Venable, we're encouraged that all three are getting better by facing the tougher competition in AAA.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Calling Up Headley

First of all, let me say that I'm a little disappointed that I haven't received a bunch of questions about this so far, especially considering all of the talk on the subject. After all, these types of situations are perfect for this forum. I'll just assume that everyone wanted me to enjoy my trip to New York with my son. :-)

So, hit me with it. Hit me with all of your questions (just don't expect me to get to them before Friday).

I will say this, though. There is no such thing as the perfect time to call up a prospect. Do you do it when the team is winning? When they're losing? When the guys in front of the prospect are playing well? Playing poorly? When the prospect is playing well in the minors? For how long? Two weeks? A month? There are arguments for all of the above and many more. Incidentally, calling up Headley last year from AA straight to Wrigley Field wasn't ideal, but we thought it gave us the best chance to win so we did it.

My only answer is that in a perfect world (which rarely, if ever, occurs), I prefer bringing guys up when you have the reasonable hope that they'll never go back down to the minors. That is strictly my opinion, not anyone else's. This was the case with guys like Khalil and Jake. All too often, though, you see guys come up, struggle, then go back down. That roundtrip ticket can do a lot of damage to a player's confidence, and that confidence is a key ingredient to success at the highest levels. Along those lines, think about what it did for Kouz last year when Buddy stuck with him and kept putting him out there. We all expected Kouz would hit, but I'm confident that the decision to keep him in the big leagues throughout his struggles was an element in his eventual success, even if just a sliver.

There are examples at nearly every level. During spring training of 2003, Nick Swisher was having a monster camp. After being drafted in 2002 he had finished the season in High-A ball, and the plan all winter was to start him back there. Due to his great spring, some people starting pushing for Nick to go to AA even though he didn't even have a year's worth of minor league at-bats yet (I'm sure I was one of them). I specifically remember Keith Lieppman, the Farm Director of the A's, saying, "If he goes to AA and struggles to the point where we have to send him back to A ball, I won't even know where to begin to pick up the pieces." Nick Swisher was not a guy who lacked for confidence, by the way. So, Nick started back in A ball, killed it, moved to AA, and so on.

I'll never forget Keith making that stand, especially considering his experience in player development is second to none. We all want to get our players to the big leagues as quickly as possible, but we also need to be as prudent as possible (and Keith needed to remind us in that situation), because when the players get there we want to succeed. Not survive. Succeed.

If a player can experience immediate success, he can take a leap forward on the Major League learning curve. Hopefully that will be the case with Chase.

I look forward to your questions.

Monday, June 16, 2008

New York

I'm on my way to New York today to meet up with the Major League team. As the years have passed, I've traveled less and less with the Major League team, and now most of my travel is for the draft or to our minor league affiliates. This trip, however, is a must.

Since this is the final year of Yankee Stadium, our owner, John Moores, decided to take the entire Padres staff to New York to experience the city and the stadium. Though I've been to Yankee Stadium many times with both the Indians and the A's, including a bunch of raucous playoff games, I haven't been there in a number of years, so I'm glad to get the chance to go again.

What makes this trip even more special, though, is that I'm taking my oldest son, who is 4.

I debated whether or not I should take him, as I'm sure the City will be overwhelming. However, the clincher for me was that I know when he's fifty it'll mean something to him to be able to say that his dad took him to the OLD Yankee Stadium, the House that Ruth Built, where he saw ARod and Jeter and Trevor Hoffman (his favorite player). Cue Ray Kinsella.

I don't know how much he'll remember of the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, the Broadway Show, Grand Central Station (I haven't told him we're doing all of these things yet), or the Stadium, but I'll remember every minute of it.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Thinking Behind the Draft

With the importance of process in my mind, I want to share some of our thoughts from this year's draft.

Every year presents a different crop of players, and consequently the first evaluation is a macro one. What are the strengths and weaknesses of this draft class? It's commonplace to say, "This draft isn't very deep." That's usually true, though it may also be our subconscious managing expectations. Either way, a more detailed analysis can greatly inform a team's strategy for a particular draft. As I've mentioned before, due to the fact that baseball's draft does not immediately impact the Major League level, teams don't necessarily have to draft for need. This allows for more flexibility in the process on an annual basis.

This year our scouting staff determined that the 2008 draft class was particularly deep in high quality college hitters, thin in college pitching, and a bit disappointing in terms of depth at the high school level. In fact, there seemed to be an unusually high number of high school players who weren't terribly interested in signing (demanding top half of the first round money in order to forego their college experience).

In our search for more high school players we asked the room who had some players who were interested in signing. One particular scout jumped on the opportunity and rattled off a few players. According to our scout, the first two he mentioned weren't "interested" in school. When describing the third, our scout was quick to state that the player didn't have the grades to go to college. Someone asked him, "Doesn't anyone in your area have grades?" Without any hesitation, the scout quipped, "They're all NP's (non-prospects)." I don't mean to make light of the situation, but this was the best line of the week.

Approximately five days before the draft we started having conversations about the reality of the draft class and began formulating our strategy. What if we didn't take a pitcher the entire first day? Given the class, we decided, we were prepared to do just that. We weren't going to take a pitcher just to seemingly balance our draft. There were pitchers were liked, of course, and we would be prepared to take them. However, there was an unusual number of attractive hitters, so we wanted to take advantage of the opportunity and land as many of them as possible. We certainly didn't want to pass on some of these hitters, who in other years may be at the top of the class, in order to take a pitcher who was very similar to pitchers available in the following few rounds (or in any other year). As I've stated many times in this blog, we know we're not going to be right every time, but if we could secure a full group of top hitters, not just one or two, we felt that at least some of them will meet or exceed our expectations.

As a group we felt strongly about this evaluation of the draft class, so we spent a lot of time on the college hitters, trying to get them in the right order for selection. Ultimately, Grady Fuson and Chief Gayton did a masterful job of game planning the draft, and we truly maximized our number of targeted hitters.

One of the biggest complaints about most drafts is that certain players were "overdrafted". I'll be honest - I don't really believe in that concept. First of all, our knowledge in terms of where players will be selected is imperfect to put it mildly. Remember, it only takes one team out of thirty to step up and take a player, and then he's gone. There are no do-overs. We may really like a guy, think we can get him in the 4th round or so, and then he's gone in the second. It happens all the time. Therefore, I believe that if you like the player and want him in your system, just take him. My litmus test is how I'm going to react when I hear another team call the player's name: a) a grimace with a head bob, b) an audible "Gah!" with a twist of the neck, or c) nauseous. If (c), then take the player if he's available.

Though we had a strong conviction about the strengths of this draft class, it was not easy to maintain the discipline throughout the first day. After all, we were watching pitchers whom we liked go off the board round after round. Nevertheless, we were comforted by the names we were calling in each and every round. With each selection, we expected to lose some target players before our next selection, and of course we did, but the exhaustive planning paid off as we anticipated most of the "losses". Our decisions in each round, therefore, were factoring in these expected losses. I had some (a) reactions and a few (b)'s, but the (c)'s were more rare than usual.

The first round is always the most difficult, especially when you're picking in the bottom third. It's very difficult to predict the pool of available players, and the 5-tool, can't miss types are generally gone in the top 5 or 10 picks. This year was no different. It was telling though that so many college players, especially college hitters, were taken in the first round this year. If anything, this fact only strengthened our resolve, because it indicated that our analysis of this draft class was a common one.

All in all, we feel as though we were able to draft a number of hitters will both skill and power, and we were also able to get a handful of athletes with speed and defensive ability/versatility. Further, despite not taking a pitcher in the first four rounds, we're pleased with the pitching that we acquired throughout the draft. Who's going to be the best of the group? I wish I knew.

We will certainly look to continue to improve our draft process, but I can honestly say that we're thrilled with this year's class of new Padres. We, along with our fans, anxiously await the development process and the first Major League arrival. In the meantime, however, we're sleeping well knowing that we analyzed the situation (seemingly appropriately), devised a plan, and executed it with discipline. Let's hope we're rewarded with a positive outcome.


A lot of you have been asking...

Here are the signings that have already been completed:

Comp - Logan Forsythe
3rd - Sawyer Carroll
10th - Andrew Albers
11th - Tyson Bagley
14th - Robert Musgrave
16th - Thomas Davis
17th - Derek Shunk
18th - Nick Vincent
19th - Robert Lara
20th - Jason Codiroli
21st - Joseph Railey
24th - Eric Gonzalez
26th - Dean Anna
27th - Aaron Murphree
28th - Nick Schumacher
29th - Omar Gutierrez
30th - Robert Verbick
32nd - Kyle Heyne
33rd - Daniel Robertson
34th - Matthew Gaski
35th - Logan Gelbrich
37th - Matthew Means
39th - Gary Poynter
40th - Colin Lynch
42nd - Brad Brach

That's 25 total players. We're getting closer on a few others, and we have three draftees (Blake Tekotte, Erik Davis, and Matt Clark) still participating in the College World Series.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Draft Review - About Process

Now that we've had a few days to recoup (and since we've secured a few dramatic W's), I thought it would be a good time to do a quick review of our draft. However, first I'd like to write about the distinction between process and outcome, because this distinction permeates everything we do in baseball ops, never more so than in the draft.

Geoff Young from Ducksnorts wrote a comment after the draft saying that the tough part of the draft was that we won't know the outcome for five years or so. I couldn't agree more, so what I'm going to focus on is the process.

Many years ago I was playing blackjack in Las Vegas on a Saturday night in a packed casino. I was sitting at third base, and the player who was at first base was playing horribly. He was definitely taking advantage of the free drinks, and it seemed as though every twenty minutes he was dipping into his pocket for more cash.

On one particular hand the player was dealt 17 with his first two cards. The dealer was set to deal the next set of cards and passed right over the player until he stopped her, saying: "Dealer, I want a hit!" She paused, almost feeling sorry for him, and said, "Sir, are you sure?" He said yes, and the dealer dealt the card. Sure enough, it was a four.

The place went crazy, high fives all around, everybody hootin' and hollerin', and you know what the dealer said? The dealer looked at the player, and with total sincerity, said: "Nice hit."

I thought, "Nice hit? Maybe it was a nice hit for the casino, but it was a terrible hit for the player! The decision isn't justified just because it worked."

Well, I spent the rest of that weekend wandering around the casino, largely because I had lost all of my money playing blackjack, thinking about all of these different games and how they work. The fact of the matter is that all casino games have a winning process - the odds are stacked in the favor of the house. That doesn't mean they win every single hand or every roll of the dice, but they do win more often than not. Don't misunderstand me - the casino is absolutely concerned about outcomes. However, their approach to securing a good outcome is a laser like focus on process...right down to the ruthless pit boss.

We can view baseball through the same lens. Baseball is certainly an outcome-driven business, as we get charged with a W or an L 162 times a year (or 163 times every once in a while). Furthermore, we know we cannot possibly win every single time. In fact, winning just 60% of the time is a great season, a percentage that far exceeds house odds in most games. Like a casino, it appears as though baseball is all about outcomes, but just think about all of the processes that are in play during the course of just one game or even just one at-bat.

In having this discussion years ago with Michael Mauboussin, who wrote "More Than You Know" (a great book - a link to Michael's strategy papers appears on my blogroll), he showed me a very simple matrix by Russo and Schoemaker in "Winning Decisions" that explains this concept:
We all want to be in the upper left box - deserved success resulting from a good process. This is generally where the casino lives. I'd like to think that this is where the Oakland A's and San Diego Padres have been during the regular seasons. The box in the upper right, however, is the tough reality we all face in industries that are dominated by uncertainty. A good process can lead to a bad outcome in the real world. In fact, it happens all the time. This is what happened to the casino when a player hit on 17 and won. I'd like to think this is what happened to the A's and Padres during the post-seasons. :-)

As tough as a good process/bad outcome combination is, nothing compares to the bottom left: bad process/good outcome. This is the wolf in sheep's clothing that allows for one-time success but almost always cripples any chance of sustained success - the player hitting on 17 and getting a four. Here's the rub: it's incredibly difficult to look in the mirror after a victory, any victory, and admit that you were lucky. If you fail to make that admission, however, the bad process will continue and the good outcome that occurred once will elude you in the future. Quite frankly, this is one of the things that makes Billy Beane as good as he is. He is quick to notice good luck embedded in a good outcome, and he refuses to pat himself on the back for it.

At the Padres, we want to win every game we play at every level and we want to be right on every single player decision we make. We know it's not going to happen, because there is too much uncertainty... too much we cannot control. That said, we can control the process.

Championship teams will occasionally have a bad process and a good outcome. Championship organizations, however, reside exclusively in the upper half of the matrix. Some years it may be on the right-hand side, most years should be on the left. The upper left is where the Atlanta Braves lived for 14 years - possibly the most under appreciated accomplishment by a professional sports organization in our lifetimes. In short, we want to be a Championship organization that results in many Championship teams.

I'll touch on our draft in greater detail in the next day or so, but I will say that we are proud of our process and it was carried out with discipline. Will it lead to a good outcome? We don't know for sure, but we have confidence in the group of picks that were made. I do know, however, that our process gets better every single year, and we expect it to be better again next year.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Rounds 16+

16. Tom Davis, RHP, Fordham U - A good strike-thrower, Tom mixes a 91 mph fastball with a slider and a changeup. He attacks the zone with all of his pitches and forces the opposition to put the ball in play. Tom finished the year with a 1.90 ERA in 90 innings.

17. Derek Shunk, SS, Villanova U - A big, physical SS at 6'2" and 215 lbs, Derek just finished a stellar college career that saw him hit over .300 in each of his four seasons including over .350 in each of the past two.

18. Nick Vincent, RHP, Long Beach St - Nick has had a very good year for a talented Long Beach St squad, posting a 1.91 ERA out of the pen. Nick's fastball has both sinking and cutting action, so hitters have a difficult time squaring it up with any consistency. He complements the fastball with a good slider and an occasional changeup.

19. Robert Lara, C, U Central Florida - Robert is a strong defensive catcher with very good catch and throw skills. As an offensive player, he consistently puts up good at-bats and is a tough out. Importantly, Robert has a take charge personality behind the plate.

20. Jason Codiroli, CF, West Valley College - The nephew of former big leaguer, Chris Codiroli, Jason has the tools to play CF and be a leadoff type hitter. He is currently signed to attend Cumberland U in the fall.

21. Joseph Railey, 2B, U San Francisco - A scrappy and strong player, Joseph is a top of the lineup type that handles the bat very well. Though not a power guy, Joseph has always done a good job of getting on-base, posting a .400+ obp in each of his past three season at USF and also a .377 obp in the Cape last summer.

22. Chris Wilkes, RHP, Dr. Phillips HS, FL - A 6'4", 235 lb 19 year old, Chris has a future plus fastball. This isn't surprising because he has a scholarship to be a QB at Ole Miss in the fall. Chris also has a good feel for his secondary pitches. Given his size, arm strength, and feel, there is some projection left for Chris.

23. Nich Conaway, RHP, No School - Nich was the closer for U Oklahoma last spring during which he had a dominant season. His fastball has reached 97 mph, and he compliments it with a power curveball. Nich had shoulder surgery last fall and left school in the middle of the year, so he didn't pitch this spring. Neverthless, his big fastball and 85 k's in 63 innings last year enticed our scouts to keep in touch with him this spring.

24. Eric Gonzalez, RHP, U South Alabama - A senior starter, Eric previously pitched for Spain's National Team. Eric throws a fastball, slurve, and changeup, and his changeup in his go-to pitch. A great competitor, Eric has walked just 39 and struck out 136 in his past two college seasons.

25. Logan Power, OF, U Mississippi - The #3 hitter for Ole Miss, Logan has a short compact swing that helped him to a .329/.425/.502 line this spring. Logan has the ability to play all three OF positions, as he gets good jumps and is a fundamentally sound outfielder.

26. Dean Anna, SS, Ball St - Known as a hard-nosed and disciplined player, Dean put up a terrific junior season at Ball St. A tough out, Dean's strike zone discipline is outstanding, as he walked 46 times compared to just 17 strikeouts. Dean also banged 30 extra base hits, so he's also a threat with the bat.

27. Aaron Murphree, OF, U Arkansas - At 6'5" and 235 lbs, Aaron has big power. This season he launched 14 home runs in just 129 ab's.

28. Nick Schumacher, RHP, Wayne St College - A 6'4" right-hander, Nick throws up to 94 mph. He also throws a slider and a changeup and is a terrific competitor.

29. Omar Gutierrez, RHP, Texas A&M, Corpus Christi - Omar throws his fastball right around 90 mph, though it can go as high as 93. He also throws a curveball, slider, and changeup. We feel that Omar has a nice, loose arm that may have room for even more as a pro.

30. Robert Verbick, OF, Sam Houston St - A senior at Sam Houston, Robert has a good eye at the plate but is aggressive when he decides to swing the bat. This season Robert hit 14 homers on his way to slugging .630.

31. Sean Gilmartin, OF, Crespi HS, CA - A 6'2", 190 lb outfielder, Sean is currently committed to attend Florida St in the fall. Sean shows very good hitting hands and does a nice job covering the entire strike zone. Defensively, Sean has a strong arm that is playable anywhere in the OF.

32. Kyle Heyne, RHP, Ball St - A sidearming bullpen arm, Kyle has great sinking life on his fastball which he commands well. He also throws a slider and changeup, but his bread and butter is the sinker. He was drafted last year by the Twins but elected to return to school.

33. Daniel Robertson, OF, Oregon St - A real gamer, Daniel has a plan at the plate, will take a walk, and sprays line drives around the field. Defensively, he can play either corner OF position and has surprising arm strength. An intense competitor, his energy rubs off on his teammates.

34. Matt Gaski, SS, UNC Greensboro - A knowledgeable player with very good instincts for the game, Matt always seems to be in the right spot at the right time. He has terrific hands to take advantage of those instincts. Matt also walked more than he struck out this year and is a tough out at the plate.

35. Jacob Shadle, RHP, Graham-Kapowsin HS - At 6'3" and 180 lbs, Jacob is a projectable RHP. He has some deception in his delivery, and his fastball seems to jump on the hitter. Jacob's main secondary pitch is a hard slider.

36. Mathew Means, LHP, Sonoma St - A left-hander who can really pitch, Mathew keeps hitters off balance by throwing all of his pitches (fastball, slider, changeup, and split-finger) for strikes. Mathew posted a 1.39 ERA this spring in 51.2 innings.

37. Zachary Herr, LHP, U Nebraska - Though just 5'9" tall, Zach has a no-nonsense demeanor on the mound and goes right after hitters. His 2-seam fastball has nice tailing action, and his late-biting slider is very tough on left-handed hitters. Zach struck out 49 batters in just 34 innings this spring.

38. Gary Poynter, RHP, Lubbock Christian - A physical right-hander with a three pitch mix, Gary was drafted by the Texas Rangers last spring but decided to return to attend Lubbock Christian. This spring he compiled a 14-2 record.

39. Colin Lynch, RHP, St. John's U - A closer in college, Colin throws his fastball between 89 and 93 mph, and his slider is his main secondary offering. Colin approaches the game as a typical closer, attacking the zone with high intensity while remaining cool under pressure.

40. Zach Dascenzo, C, Laurel Highlands HS, PA - A member of the Padres East Coast Showcase team last fall, Zach showed solid catch and throw skills behind the plate. A very hard worker, he has the makeup we look for from a catcher.

41. Brad Brach, RHP, Monmouth U - A big, physical right-hander, Brad pitches aggressively with all three pitches (fastball, slider, changeup). Brad pitches to contact, allowing his defense to make the plays behind him, though his changeup can be an out pitch against left-handed hitters. He'll throw any pitch in any count, which keeps hitters off balance.

42. James Tunnell, SS, Oklahoma City Broncos - Son of former Major Leaguer Lee Tunnell, James has solid tools across the board, including legitimate power. A versatile defender, Lee could easily play the outfield as well as the infield.

There it is - 42 rounds and 45 selections. We won't sign all of these players, as we don't even have enough places in the minors for all of them to play. However, we will be making offers to many of them in the coming days, and we're optimistic about getting a number of them into Padres uniforms and out playing for our affiliates in the near future.

Time to get some sleep.

Rounds 12-15

Matt Clark, 1B, Louisiana St U - At 6'5" and 230 lbs, one would expect that Clark has big power, and he doesn't disappoint. Matt hits tape measure home runs and is a threat every time he steps in the box. I don't have all of the updated stats after regional play last weekend, but Matt was in the top five in the country in home runs.

Erik Davis, RHP, Stanford U - The Friday night starter for Stanford, Erik matched up against all of the other top starters in the Pac 10 this year. His fastball ranges from 86-90, but what separates him is his changeup. He can throw the changeup for strikes any time in the count, and he does a great job of keeping hitters off balance.

Rob Musgrave, LHP, Wichita St U - Rob is another pitcher with very good command and an excellent changeup, which is a true plus offering. Over the past two years Rob has allowed just 35 walks in 200 innings while also striking out 173.

Brett Mooneyham, LHP, Buhach Colony HS, CA - Brett is 6'5", 215 lbs, throws up to 94 mph and has a plus curveball. Furthermore, Brett's dad, Bill, was a first round pick in 1980. Sounds pretty good, huh? That's why Baseball America rates him as one of top 100 prospects in the draft, and many people believe that he is the best left-handed high school pitcher in the country. At this point, though, Brett is planning to attend Stanford in the fall.

Rounds 7-11

Adam Zornes, C, Rice U - A red-shirt junior, Adam is a strong defensive catcher with a plus arm that holds down the running game. Offensively, he's not a high average hitter, but he has power and can do damage.

Beamer Weems, SS, Baylor U - A slick fielder, Beamer is known as one of the best defensive shortstops in this draft with great hands, a plus arm, and above average range. Offensively, he's a switch-hitter who is more of a contact hitter who does a good job of controlling the strike zone.

Kyle Thebeau, RHP, Texas A&M -A strong RHP, Kyle's fastball normally sits around 92 mph. Used primarily as a reliever, Kyle features a fastball/slider combination, and both pitches grade out as above average at times.

Andrew Albers, LHP, U Kentucky - A left-hander with a deceptive delivery, Andrew is a good strike-thrower who keeps the ball down in the zone and generates groundballs and strikeouts. He has both started and relieved for Kentucky.

Tyson Bagley, RHP, Dallas Baptist U - A 6'8", 250 reliever, Tyson has an above average fastball. In the past two seasons Tyson has struck out 108 batters in 74 innings while yielding just 48 hits. Given his size and arm, he offers a lot of projection.

Day Two

The rounds are fast and furious today, so I won't be able to put up postings after every pick. However, I will try to give periodic updates throughout the day.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Cole Figueroa

Cole is the SS for the University of Florida, and he's the son of former big league infielder, Bien Figueroa. Cole is a draft-eligible sophomore, so he still has two years of eligibility left in school. Hopefully we can convince him to start his pro career, as he is a solid left-handed hitting middle infielder who has terrific instincts for the game. He's another player who seemed to raise his game when it counted the most. At the plate he is a handsy hitter who will hit the ball where it's pitched but also has the ability to hit the ball out of the ballpark. Cole hit .350 this year with a .422 obp and a .534 slg to go along with 20 stolen bases.

If I have the time tonight, I will try to provide a brief wrap-up of what was a very exciting day for us. We couldn't be happier about the group of players we selected today, as we managed to get a number of our targeted offensive players.

Anthony Bass

Pitching? We don't need no stinkin' pitching!

Actually there have been a few pitchers we had targeted who went before we wanted to take them. We were excited, though, to get Bass in this spot. Anthony is an athletic, 6'1" RHP from Wayne St in Detroit who had a terrific year. He throws a FB that will touch 94 mph, though he normally pitches around 92. He throws a breaking ball and a changeup as his secondary pitches and has very good command.

Jason Kipnis #2

Jason has played both CF and LF for ASU, though he has become the primary CF as the season has continued. He is a left-handed hitter who hits at the top of their lineup and has had a monster year, hitting .363 with a .484 obp and .677 slg. He's a pesky player who is a very tough out, hitting the ball to all fields and running the bases aggressively (24 bases so far this year). Over the summer last year, Jason hit .318 with a .505 obp and a .591 slg while stealing 24 bases. Despite a limited projection in terms of physical size, he plays very hard and is surprisingly strong - 13 homers this year and 9 over the summer.

Jason Kipnis

Jason is an OF for ASU who has always hit - leadoff type. More later. Swamped right now.

Sawyer Carroll

Sawyer is a left-handed hitting outfielder for the University of Kentucky. At 6'4", Sawyer had never hit for much power before this year, but he had always controlled the zone extremely well and had a sweet swing. This year, however, he added 20 lbs and his home run total jumped from 3 to 19. This is a guy who is a good hitter first who has begun to develop dangerous power. He has an inside-out approach and routinely drives the ball to left-centerfield.

Blake Tekotte #2

Blake is a true leadoff hitting centerfielder who is an above average runner and defender. The best part is that he's also a hitter. Going into the regionals last weekend, Blake was hitting .374 with a .487 obp and a .598 slg to go along with 25 stolen bases. Blake is an exciting top of the lineup guy who sets the tone for that Miami team. He always seems to be in the middle of the action.

Blake Tekotte

CF, U of Miami

James Darnell #2

Darnell is a big, strong 3B who is athletic and skilled enough to play all over the diamond. His strength is what separates him, as he has hit 18 and 19 homers in the past two seasons. The ball absolutely jumps off his bat, and it was no different with wood as he hit 8 homers in just 128 ab's on the Cape last summer.

Overall, this is a very toolsy player with a lot of life and power to his game.

Needless to say, we've added some serious power today.

James Darnell

3B from University of South Carolina

Logan Forsythe #2

Logan is a 3B for the University of Arkansas, though he played all around the diamond for Team USA last summer (he has also caught in the past).

Known for incredible makeup, Logan has been a coach and fan favorite. He played the entire summer for Team USA with a broken foot and refused to come out of games. Furthermore, he continually showed his best performances against the best competition and in the biggest moments.

A right-handed hitter, he has tremendous control of the strike zone while consistently hitting for high average and extra base power. At this point, he has been more of a doubles guy than a homer guy, but we believe his advanced approach and strength will translate to more home run power as a pro. Logan has also stolen 29 bases over the past two years. In short, we think this is a very well-rounded player with great intangibles.

Jaff Decker #2

Decker is a LHP/OF from Sunrise Mountain HS in Peoria, AZ. Though he throws 90 mph with a good curveball as a pitcher, we see Decker as a hitter and he's a pure hitter.

A left-handed hitter, Decker has fantastic discipline, big power, and a beautiful swing. More than anything though, Decker has a natural rhythm and timing to hit that is innate to all great hitters. He hit 14 homers this spring in just 72 at-bats while also maintaining his patience as the opposition pitched around him. Jaff plays CF in high school, though we expect that he'll be more of a corner outfielder in the long-term.

Though high school bats are always more risky, we think that Jaff has big bat potential and was worth the selection at 42. At present, he is committed to Arizona State. We were thrilled to get him.

Logan Forsythe

Skilled player, great makeup, very hard-nosed. More later.

Jaff Decker

Our scouts believe Decker may be as pure a high school hitter as there is in the country. More later.

Allan Dykstra

As I wrote the other day, this isn't a need-based pick. Allan is a San Diego native from Rancho Bernardo HS who has been an All-American at Wake Forest. He's 6'5", almost 250 lbs and has monster power. Most importantly, he has skills to go along with that raw power.

Allan has had an unbelievably consistent collegiate career, as he's hit at least 15 homers while also drawing at least 50 walks in each of his three seasons - something nobody else in this draft has done. Allan also produced in the Cape Cod League batting over .300 with walks and power, so he has also proven his skills with a wood bat. In short, his track record is impeccable.

Given his size, power, and patience, comparisions have been drawn to Jim Thome.

30 Minutes and Counting

We're finally getting close to our first pick here.

There was a time when there was no clock in the MLB draft. Teams selected immediately after the pick in front of them was announced, so the entire first round took about 15 minutes. For all of us who lived through many years of that pace, the five minutes that is now between picks seems amazingly long. Nevertheless, it's great that ESPN is doing more coverage on the draft now, and hopefully more and more fans are following it.

Draft Day

It's here, and it started earlier for us than most. Actually, we just left the draft room (around 3:30 am) to get a little bit of rest before reconvening in a few hours for our annual pre-draft breakfast.

Preparing for all of the possible contingencies is a difficult task, which is made even more difficult with the additional picks. That being said, we're not complaining. In fact, we're very excited about what the day could bring for the Padres.

The first pick will be around 11:15 am pacific time, so our first pick will likely occur between 1:00-1:30 pm - a short eight hours from now.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

A Few Words on "Ceiling"

There seems to be a strong sentiment among fans to draft players with a high "ceiling" - players who can impact the Major Leagues with exciting tools.

First, some perspective: fewer than 10% of all the drafted players become solid Major League players (not stars, simply solid). Therefore, if a player reaches the Major Leagues, even as an extra player, that is a HIGH ceiling. Do we want to draft players who will not only make the big leagues but also have a chance to be a cornerstone player? Absolutely. However, that level of "ceiling" or "upside" is rarified air. Furthermore, it's not always so obvious during the draft process.

When most people talk about ceiling or upside what they're really talking about is the gap between the player's current ability, call it his polish, and his ultimate ability. A bigger gap indicates bigger upside. Let's think about that for a second - is that such a good thing? The answer is that it all depends on the ultimate ability as well as the likelihood that the player will reach that level. That ultimate ability, though, can be very difficult to measure.

Here are a few examples from Oakland, where Grady Fuson was the Scouting Director. Tim Hudson was drafted by the A's as a senior out of Auburn where he was the SEC player of the year (making the SEC All-Star team as a pitcher and an outfielder). However, Tim was 6'0" and about 160 pounds. Most people viewed him as a very good college player. Did anyone envision 142 Major League wins and counting? No chance. The A's liked him enough to draft him and believed he had big league potential, but Tim's "upside" wasn't evident.

Another example was Barry Zito. Forget about Barry's recent struggles and go back to 1999 when he was pitching for USC. When the A's drafted Barry with the #9 overall pick in the draft, it was viewed as the biggest overdraft in the first round. How could the A's take a guy with a below average fastball with one of the top ten picks in the country? Sure, Zito was "safe", because he would likely pitch in the big leagues, but there wasn't any upside! Now Zito is a 3-time All-Star and a Cy Young Award winner with more than 100 Major League wins under his belt. Did we expect that type of success when we drafted him? Very simply... no. Before anyone dwells on this one because of Barry's current stats, there are dozens of other examples.

The point is that players will often surprise you (in these cases positively, but it more often goes the other way), and if we take players who we believe have Major League potential, there is plenty of upside.

As far as drafting polished players versus unpolished players, which is the more relevant question, we've done both at the Padres. Remember, just because a player is from the college ranks, that does not make him polished. One comment referred to our selection last year of Brad Chalk and said we paid too much for a low ceiling player. Chalk is actually an example of the opposite. Though a successful college player at Clemson with above average speed and defense in CF, Chalk was a guy who hadn't done the offensive damage in college that we believe is in there. If he hits like we believe he can, his upside is huge. Chalk, Andrew Cumberland, Matt Latos, Cedric Hunter... we've taken plenty of players in the past few years with high picks that weren't considered polished products, but who also have exciting skills. There is nobody in our draft room selling a player by saying, "This guy is going to be a really good minor league player and should help our A-ball team win games."

Just like everyone else, we want upside, which is to say that we want big leaguers.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Draft Strategy

The NBA and NFL drafts are vastly different from the baseball draft. In addition to having a relatively small number of rounds (two in the NBA and seven in the NFL compared to 50 in the MLB draft), teams in the NBA and NFL often select with the immediate needs of their current club in mind. Need an offensive tackle? You don't necessarily have to venture into the trade market or even free agency, as you might be able to solve your problem in the draft. Of course, such a setup comes with its own set of issues.

In baseball there is plenty of talk regarding need, although that usually refers to organizational need as opposed to immediate Major League need. For instance, a team's farm system may be thin at the catcher position, even if they have a solid catcher at the Major League level, so they will target catchers in the coming draft. Therefore, don't be alarmed if your favorite team takes a guy who plays the same position as the best player on the current ML team. Every team out there always needs more good players at every position, especially at the lower levels of the minor league system. Rarely do teams target players in the draft with their immediate Major League needs in mind, with the one exception being a top end reliever. In recent years more and more college relievers have been selected in the top rounds of the draft in hopes that they could get to the big leagues quickly to fill a role.

Fortunately for the Padres, Grady Fuson and Bill Gayton have had three very strong drafts in a row which has significantly bolstered our minor league system. Though we haven't picked in the top half of the first round in any of those years, we have been able to procure extra compensation picks due to the machinations of the free agent market. These extra picks have afforded us the opportunity to stock our system in an aggressive manner, and we've been able to fill many organizational needs over those years ranging from starting pitching to outfielders to catchers. Once again this year we have three extra picks (#42, #46, and #111 overall)... so we got that goin' for us, which is nice. This year, though, it's time for "best talent available", and we're excited about being in that position.

I have received a lot of questions regarding our strategy for this draft - will it be college oriented, what about players with tools, pitchers with velocity? Fortunately, I can answer these questions without giving anything away to our competitors. We're taking what we feel is the best talent available at the time - college, high school, pitcher, position player.

There's always a balance between impact potential and safety. However, the reality is that none of these picks are "safe". We're trying to predict the future performance of human beings five or even ten years into the future, at which time they'll be playing under circumstances that they can't even imagine right now (we hope). Safe? No chance. The business of baseball in general is a constant tug-of-war with uncertainty, and the other side of the rope never pulls harder than in the draft.

That's what makes it so much fun.

Monday, June 2, 2008

What Day Is It?

It's groundhog day in the draft room.

The days definitely blend together as we continue to go through all of these names and scouting reports. Fortunately for us, all of our amateur scouts gather at Petco to participate in the "war room" draft discussions, so the room stays pretty lively. Unfortunately, we're missing our primary source of comic relief this year, as our premier joke teller, Joe Bochy, is now one of our professional scouts and consequently is absent from the draft room. I'm not sure anybody in baseball tells a joke quite like Joe (yes, he is Bruce's brother). If you happen to run into him at a ballpark, tell him to call the draft room with a joke - we need it.

Believe it or not, many (if not most) teams only have the supervisors, crosscheckers, and directors meet in the Major League city, while the area scouts stay home and participate via phone. The group in the big league city will then hold separate conference calls with the area scouts to go over each area one by one. Once the calls are complete, the central group assembles all of the information and puts together their draft boards. At that point the area scouts sit at home waiting for word that one of their players is in line to be selected.

In San Diego, though, we break down the country by position rather than geographic region. The best part is that everyone is there to partake in the discussion. Every area scout must present each of the players in his area to the room at the appropriate time and then all of the other scouts (crosschecker or area) who saw the player as well will add their thoughts. This makes for good debates and some unforgettable moments. Most importantly, we have a tremendous amount of first-hand knowledge all in one central location.

We're fortunate that our scouts are so respectful of one another or else we'd never be able to do it this way. Look, every scout wants their players to be the ones selected, so everyone pushes the players in their area, but our guys do an unbelievable job of being selfless in this setting. Just tonight we had a number of occasions when one of our area scouts told the room to take another player over one of his own players based on the discussion that was taking place. That attitude allows us to have honest and frank discussions.

We've made excellent progress over the last two days, and hopefully we can continue this pace. As any scout will tell you, though, the right-handed pitcher board is a real bear, and we just dug our teeth into that one tonight. We've been meeting for approximately 12 hours per day, so the stamina can run low as the days continue (today was day #5) especially considering the trash we all eat. Nevertheless, as draft day approaches the adrenaline will begin to fuel the room. Plus, we're starting to accumulate the dish from other draft rooms as we try to strategize with our first few picks. It's getting good...