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AL West MLB Draft Tendencies

by Steve Garrity on May. 27, 2010


Something tells me most baseball fans have heard of Oakland’s General Manager, Billy Beane. He was one of the first general managers to utilize lesser known stats like OBP (On-base percentage) and use it towards the draft and free agents. He targeted lesser known players who had performed well in college and could be had for cheap. However, now Beane’ strategies are used throughout Major League Baseball and teams have moved on to the next strategy. The Athletics thinking may be somewhat dated now but Billy Beane still knows how to use the draft and his farm system to improve the team. Yet by trading prospect commodities and pushing players through the minors it has become a somewhat middle of the pack system. However, in the last few drafts Oakland has targeted some useful bats which could help them jump back into the top ten, such as shortstop Grant Green and catcher Max Stassi both from the 2009 draft, and second basemen Jemile Weeks in 2007. Everyone knows Oakland draft philosophy; they target college talent especially bats. They like to stay within slot recommendations but if a top talent falls they will take a chance like they did last year when Stassi fell to the fourth round and the A’s gave him a $1.45 million dollar bonus. In the past three drafts (2007-09) Oakland has only taken one high schooler in the top five rounds (Max Stassi), which is not surprising. With a top ten pick in this year’s draft, I expect Beane and the Athletics to target one of the top college bats.



Jon Daniels became the youngest General Manager in Major League Baseball history when he took over Texas in 2005. However, with it he inherited one of the worst run teams in the league. The organization had handed over some terrible contracts, the minor leagues were middle of the pack with no real difference makers on the horizon, and the team was stuck in last place. How five years and smart moves at the amateur level can turn a team around. With Daniels help, the Rangers are now contenders in the AL West and the farm system ranks as one of baseballs best if not the best. In the past few years the system has graduated prospects such as outfielder Julio Bourbon, short-stop Elvis Andrus, first-basemen Chris Davis, and top prospect Justin Smoak, all of whom were selected or signed during Daniels tenure. Even with the promotion of these players from the minors, the system is still very deep due to several successful drafts. The Rangers do not lean one way more than the other when it comes to selecting college or high school players. They take a best player available approach and are not afraid to spend to sign talent (Justin Smoak received a $3.5 million dollar bonus in 2008, and their second rounder that year received $1.575.). The target as of late has been pitching. In the 2008 and 2009 drafts, Texas has taken eight pitchers with their first eleven picks. Since the Rangers were unable to 2009 first round pick, Matt Purke, they have an extra pick in the first round and now have four picks in the first and supplemental first round (15,22,45.49). The 2010 draft class is richer in pitching than bats, and I suspect the Rangers will target the stronger hitters early since the pitching depth will allow them to wait for the arms in the supplemental round.



Jack Zduriencik, was the Director of Scouting for the Milwaukee Brewers from 1999-2006 and Director of Amateur Scouting from 2006-2008. While there he helped the Brewers build one of the better systems graduating bats such as Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks and Matt Laporta. His strong system allowed the Brewers to make key trades at the big league level such as the one in 2008 that brought CC Sabathia, helping the Brewers to make the playoffs. He did such a great job while with Milwaukee that he was the first non-GM to win Baseball America’s executive of the year award. In 2008 the Seattle Mariners tabbed Zduriencik to be their next General Manager and he got to work right away rebuilding the Mariners farm system. In the 2009 draft he selected Dustin Ackley second overall and gave him a $6 million dollar bonus. Ackley might now be the top prospect in the Mariners system. Zduriencik continued his trend in Seattle of targeting top college bats with the first pick in the draft, and the Mariners are again likely to lean towards the college talent in the draft. He also isn’t against taking an arm early if need be. Seattle usually likes to stay within slot but they will pay to sign top talent early. The Mariners do not have a pick until #43 in the supplemental first and with some of the top college bats off the board already I expect them to take a top arm and use a wait and see approach towards offense.



Bill Stoneham was the General Managers of the Angels from 1999-2007 and oversaw the team's first World Series Championship. During Stoneham’ tenure the Angels were not a team known to make the major trades or transactions. When Tony Reagins took over as team General Manager in the winter of 2007 that all changed. He signed Tori Hunter to a five year deal, and at the 2008 trade deadline he made a move that brought in Mark Texeria. Despite their differences at the major leagues level, their philosophies towards the draft have been pretty similar. Under Stoneham and Reagins tenure, the Angels have been known as a team that has fallen in love and gone after the upside of high school players especially high school bats. In 2009 the Angels had back to back picks at 24 and 25 and took Randal Grichuck and Mike Trout both who were prep outfielders. Both also received bonuses of at least 1.2 million and both are now top prospects in their minor league system. However, due to the trades for Mark Texeria and Scott Kazmir, the system has been somewhat gutted of pitching. Thus it has become a target in the draft under Reagins, taking often from the college ranks. In the two drafts under Reagins, Anaheim has had fourteen picks in the top five rounds and have selected eight pitchers, six coming from the college ranks. The Angels have five picks in the first and supplemental rounds (18,29,30,37 and 40), and some top prep talent will be still be available at each pick, so I would look for the Angels to try and grab some of the more athletic players in the draft.