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NL West MLB Draft Tendencies

by Steve Garrity on Jun. 6, 2010


Josh Byrnes took over the Diamondbacks in 2005 and his philosophy has been to focus on the Major League level, making the draft a somewhat secondary entity. However in 2009, Arizona had one the better drafts of any team, taking two highly ranked prep bats in the first and supplemental round, third-basemen Robert Borchering and shortstop Chris Owings. Although the Diamondbacks went heavy on the bats in the early rounds of 2009, they have traditionally been a team that targets pitching, mainly college in the early rounds under Byrnes. In his four years in charge of Arizona they have used their first pick on a pitcher three times, including Max Schrezer in 2006, Jarrod Parker in 2007 and Daniel Schlereth in 2008. Arizona is also a team that is not afraid to spend and go over slot if needed to sign their high round picks. In 2006, 2007 and 2009 the Diamondbacks went over slot to sign Schrezer ($3 million) as the eleventh overall, ninth overall pick Parker ($2.1 million) and supplemental first rounder Owings ($950,000.00). The Diamondbacks continued their big spending ways by paying out the fifth highest total of bonuses of any team in 2009. Arizona picks sixth overall and I would expect them to take a college arm like Drew Pomeranz or Chris Sale. However if a bat like Michael Choice falls to them at number six, he will be in the picture as well.



In his almost eleven year tenure, General Manager Dan O’Dowd’s philosophy toward the draft seems to change year to year. One year the Rockies will focus on hitting early and the next year they could go heavily after pitching, thus making a prediction of what direction they will go in quite difficult. The Rockies do seem to slightly favor college talent and pitching in the first round. Four out of the last five drafts Colorado has used its first round selection on a college player, three of which were pitchers. The lone exception was last years draft when the Rockies selected high school pitcher, Tyler Matzek, eleventh overall. O’Dowd and the Rockies are also known to be tight spenders in the draft, usually trying to stay at slot or below recommendation, and sometimes reaching to do so. For instance, in 2006 they took Stanford pitcher, Greg Reynolds, with the second overall pick to save money. Therefore 2009 was a surprising draft for Colorado, after first giving Matzek an above slot bonus of $ 3.9 million dollars and then continuing on to spend the seventh most of any team in the first ten rounds. The Rockies went heavy after hitting early last year so it could mean a return back to pitching this year. They have been linked to a number of arms such as Barrett Loux, Stetson Allie and Seth Blair. They hold the 26th overall pick this year and most of those names should still be available in that range.



Brian Sabean is the longest tenured General Manager is the NL West, holding his job since 1997. Having been around for so long and sticking to a routine, his strategy and philosophy is easier to pinpoint than others. The Giants are a college heavy team and they usually target hitters in the early rounds like 2008 first rounder, Buster Posey. Normally though when it comes to the first round San Fran goes after pitching regardless of which level they play at. In the first round of the eight drafts since 2002 (in 2004 and 2005 they did not have first round selections) they have taken a pitcher, with 2008 being the lone year a hitter was taken. In 2009 they went back to this trend taking high school pitcher, Zach Wheeler sixth overall. Also like the Rockies, the Giants try to stay close to slot, with Wheeler being the exception when he received an above slot bonus of $3.3 million. San Francisco holds the 24th overall pick this year and they actually have been rumored to be locked on more to hitters, although if a name like Anthony Ranaudo falls past the Red Sox at 20 he could be hard to pass up.



The Dodgers have traditionally been a team that loves upside players. Though Ned Colleti has only been with the Dodgers for four years as General Manager, he seems to have kept that philosophy intact with first round picks like high school pitchers Chris Winthrow and Ethan Martin (picked in 2007 and 2008 respectively). In 2009 however Los Angeles went pretty heavily after college players early on, using five of their first six picks on collegiate talent, including their first pick (Supplemental round at #36) on Baylor University pitcher, Aaron Miller. Under Colleti the Dodgers have been a team that loves taking pitching early and often, as he has used his first pick in all four drafts on a pitcher. Like a lot of teams in the draft LA tries to stick within slot recommendation and are not usually huge spenders, tending to stay in the middle of the pack in terms of bonuses. The Los Angeles Dodgers hold the 28th overall selection this year and in a class where pitching is its strength, particularly high school pitching, the Dodgers will likely try to continue their trend and take pitching early.



Jed Hoyer and Jaron Madison are brand new to their respective positions as San Diego’s General Manager and Director of Scouting. Hoyer was hired in the winter of 2009 and soon after, completely retooled the Padres scouting department, reassigning former Scouting Director, Bill Gayton, and adding six more scouts to the amateur scouting department, as well as installing Madison to Scouting Director. Hoyer also brought along former Boston Red Sox Scouting Director, Jason McLeod, to act as his new Assistant General Manager and he will be heavily involved in the draft process. For Hoyer and Madison, 2010 will be their first draft in charge. Madison’s drafts were pretty college heavy, while the Assistant to the Scouting Director in San Diego and then the Assistant Scouting Director in St.Louis from 2006-2009. In three of those four drafts a college player was selected with their first round selection, 2009 being the lone exception when the Cardinals took high schooler, Shelby Miller. In McLeod's experience his team was able to select the best player available regardless of level or price tag, although his drafts have also leaned slightly towards college in the first round with picks like Jacoby Ellsbury, Daniel Bard, Nick Hagadone and Clay Bucholz. By bringing in names like Madison, McLeod, holding on to Gayton, and expanding the amateur scouting department, it is clear Hoyer will be a GM that is very committed to the draft. San Diego was also a big spender in 2009 and coming from Boston, another big spender, I would look for Hoyer to continue that trend. The Padres have the ninth pick this year, and without the men in charge ever having had complete control of the draft room before, it is tough to say what direction the team will go. Based on Hoyer and McLeod's past experiences, I expect them to not be afraid of taking risks in the draft. The Padres have been connected to a lot of names including high school pitcher, Karsten Whitson, high school third-basemen Nick Castellanos, and college bats, third-basemen Zack Cox and second-basemen Kolbrin Vitek. Vitek is the name said most but if Cox is available he will most likely be the pick.