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...


Unknown said...

Great post
Good luck!!!

Andy said...

thank you for this blog. Its unbelievable insight.

Unknown said...

Hey Paul I was wondering if you could map out the difference between giving a guy a ML contract in the draft or just the normal contract? I've had this debate a few times on various forums and nobody seems to actually know for sure what the differences are?

Everyone seems to agree they go to your 40 man automatically and have to stay but I thought it started their arb clock earlier which means they are potentially FAs faster. Also most seem to agree you use an option when you first place him on your roster but I thought you use an option every year.

Any answers would be much appreciated. Thanks and good luck Thursday/Friday.

tad swifty said...

I was interested when you stated the padres break down the country by position rather than geographically.

Does this somewhat reflect your organization's draft strategy, is it just an arbitrary way to sort the player pool to figure out the master list come draft time, corporate culture, a bit of most or all of the above, or something I'm not smart enough to think of at the moment?

Sounds pretty cool that so many people can participate on draft day without things getting overwhelming or mass confusion breaking down communication.

Oh and do you have any opinions on how well the current draft rules including the new rule on draft and follows will work out or affect drafting strategies in general? What do you think about the slotting system as is?

(Feel free to edit out any of this post to just answer part of it.)

Cpt Top Off said...

Thanks Paul, love the blog. One more thing, PLEASE stop taking "pitchability" guys with our top picks. I think the club should strive for more than Cesar Ramos with a 1st round pick. We need impact guys, not good AAA players.

Anonymous said...

It makes sense to organize people by position than by geography as, I would believe, you would like a shortstop who can hit a curveball from who-knows-where over a catcher from your backyard who can't.

Paul said...

Is it strictly pride that makes a scout want to have his players chosen or is there a financial incentive? Seems a bonus type structure around scouts runs contrary to the mood you described so I'm guessing it's just pride. Are the area scouts ever/often from the areas they scout? Does "hometown pride" ever creep in?

Eric Clark said...

Should be interesting.

The thing I love about the MLB draft and farm system is the way it provides unlimited depth and drama for the fan that chooses to become so involved.

It all begins with draft day, when most fans are hearing these guys' names for the first time. We start looking into who they are, what we can expect out of them, etc. And over the next 2-5 years there's the process of maturization in which we'll see most of these prospects either underperform, get traded, stall in AAA, leave the game, or fail for one reason or another.

For our emotion and time invested, we're rewarded with seeing the select few make it all the way up to the big league club. Some of them will have short or sporadic MLB stints, while the very select few will become starters and stars. Having followed these guys through the draft, 4-5 levels of minor league ball, and watching the majority of their counterparts fail, there truly is an emotional bond developed by the time you see a guy make it to the bigs.

I know that when I see a guy playing in the majors who I've followed all the way from the draft, I care about his performance way more than anyone should care about someone who they've never met.

It is an exciting time, indeed. I think we're all ready to see a new batch of youngsters challenge the gauntlet that is professional baseball. Good luck, Paul. Hope they're all winners.

Oh yeah... and bring up Headley, please. :)

Paul DePodesta said...


A Major League contract places the player on the 40-man roster and immediately uses a minor league option if you place the player somewhere in the minor leagues (which everyone does). However, arbitration is dependent solely on Major League service time, which is only accumulated by being on the 25-man roster (or Major League disabled list or expanded roster in September). Therefore, placing someone on the 40-man, but not the 25-man, doesn't start any sort of aribtration or free agency clock.

Paul DePodesta said...


There is no financial incentive for a scout to have his player selected. However, the scouts work all year, away from the ML team (and often away from their families), so it's tough to go through a draft and have no attachment. Imagine an entire year of work without something tangible to show for it. Nevertheless, our guys know that it's something they can't control. Sometimes they'll have big years - five or more players - and other years they may only get one.

Unknown said...

Thanks Paul.

If that is the case then what is the big deal with giving players a ML contract? It allows you to break up their bonsus which could make it easier on you. If the only draw back is you use an option quicker, I don't see why it is such a problem especially with college bats/arm that should already be somewhat advanced.

fred45 said...

Wow. Excellent post on the draft prep. Sounds a wee bit grueling with the 12-hour days. But fun also I'd imagine.

Paul, it's clear to me that we're finishing somewhere in the worst five this season. With that said, will the team prefer to let Giles, Maddux, and Hoffy play to the end of the season with us and collect compensation picks...instead of trading them during this season?

thank you,

zino said...


"Paul, it's clear to me that we're finishing somewhere in the worst five this season"... Them are fighting words.. I think we still have an outside chance at winning the division, you are giving up way to early. I would like to see us at 6 games behind Arizona at the all star break and all could be well... So lets not talk about trading anyone just yet...