Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Draft, Moorad

Quick and not-so-quick hits from the recent Padres draft:

* New CEO and minority owner Jeff Moorad has brought an extra dimension to the draft.

* The best amateur players advised by Scott Boras no longer are off limits, a change from how the Padres usually did business under majority owner John Moores.


* Breaking from their culture under Sandy Alderson -- who did some good things for the farm system from 2005-08 -- the Padres are no longer predisposed to drafting a college player in the first round.

* The club's push for athleticism and power pitchers is stronger than it's ever been under Moores, who in late 1994 inherited a major league roster loaded with power arms.

* Center fielder Donovan Tate's $6.25 million deal covers four years, the annual sums ranging from $1.25 million to $2 million. The present-day value of the deal is $5.95 million. "This year, he gets about $2 million," said agent Scott Boras, who advised Tate. Because Tate had a football scholarship to North Carolina, his "two-sport exemption" allowed the Padres to defer payments without having to put him on the 40-man roster. "That helps from a cash-flow standpoint," said Padres GM Kevin Towers.

* The Padres have reached terms for $450,000 with a 16-year-old outfielder from the Dominican Republic -- Fabel Filpo, who's shown power from both sides of the plate. So, between the draft and signings in Latin America, the Padres have guaranteed more than $10 million this year to amateur players, Towers said.

* The Padres likely won't tinker much with Tate's swing anytime soon. However, they'd like for him to regain the same swing he showed two years ago. As a senior in Cartersville, Ga., Tate had a monster year, but his hitting stroke wasn't quite as appealing as it was in 2007. "From a fundamental standpoint," said scouting director Bill Gayton, "my eyes tell me he was in a better position to hit when he was a sophomore. But it’s not a big concern. It’s still very good."

* What did Gayton see in Tate when he first scouted him in 2007? "I said he possibly could be a No. 1 pick in 2009, but there was a Stephen Strasburg that we didn’t know existed. And a Dustin Ackley. When I saw Tate as a sophomore, I was in awe. I was excited. I saw him hit 35 out in batting practices in one day. And some of those were hit with wood."

* The Padres probably won't say it publicly, but White Sox GM Kenny Williams made it easier for them to sign not only Tate -- drafted third overall --- but the two other prep draftees that they rated as first-round talents, outfielder Everett Williams and pitcher Keyvius Sampson. The architect of Chicago's team that won the World Series in 2005, Kenny Williams isn't afraid to make bold moves, and he likely was the only GM willing to assume Jake Peavy 's 56-million guarantee while Peavy was on the disabled list. To help persuade Peavy to accept the trade -- which he did on July 31 -- the Padres gave him $1.5 million to cope with expenses relating to the move to Chicago.

* How are outsiders viewing this Padres draft? Here's a successful evaluator from an American League club: "I thought it was the best they've done in years. I thought Donavan Tate was a big risk at the third pick. I'm not convinced he's going to hit. I do think there's a lot of swing and miss there, and a little bit of Showtime. There's no denying the athleticism, though. He's got power. I do think the Mike Cameron comparisons are fair. For $6.25 million, it's a lot to hang on him, but I commend them for going for the upside on him. He's got tools galore, and the body's awesome."

* The same AL evaluator said: "Everett Williams, I liked a lot. He's kind of like a 5-foot-10ish kid, but he's strong, he can hit, he's a good athlete -- with a much better chance to hit than Donavan Tate. Keyvious Sampson has a big arm. He's another kid who's real athletic. He is 6-foot and right-handed. They definitely went big upside with those two picks and Tate. Throw them in the mix and odds are, they'll hit on one of those guys. "

* Boras and some scouts liken Tate's body to that of a young Carlos Beltran.

* Credit Alderson for helping to lay the groundwork to the Tate deal. Last winter he said that despite the Moores edict to slash payroll, the Padres were pushing to budget $6 million for their first draft pick in 2009. That's the same amount that Boras had extracted from the Royals for prep slugger Eric Hosmer, the No. 3 pick of the 2008 draft.

* Whether Alderson would've approved $6 million for a high school player, though, is questionable. The Padres took a college player first in all four of his years as CEO, and I'm told that wasn't coincidental. Alderson believed strongly in the club's statistical analysts, especially, as it pertained to the draft, their ability to find value among college hitters. In the draft's first round, prep players were pretty much off limits from 2005-08.

* The Padres' investment last year of a first-round pick and $1.15 million in Allan Dykstra, who's been a disappointment, convinced Towers that the pendulum had swung too far toward statistical analysis and a college-dominated profile of potential first-rounders. Dykstra also was strongly recommended by some scouts. Ironically, the Diamondbacks of Moorad were prepared to take Dykstra if the Padres didn't.

* As a Diamondbacks executive, Moorad endorsed the first-round selection of "high upside" prep players such as Justin Upton and Jarrod Parker. He also OK'd the first-round selection of a top-end Boras player, pitcher Max Scherzer.

* Moores, like many owners of baseball clubs, would rather have nothing to do with Boras. A former player agent himself, Moorad is more pragmatic about dealing with Boras.

* Moorad didn't back down after Boras made it known it would cost at least $6 million to sign Tate. "Jeff was very straightforward in the fact they are making the commitment they are making," Boras said. "That's why they drafted the player they drafted, and they certainly followed through on that. The talks were very amicable." Moorad's experiences as a player agent may portend other aggressive plays in the draft. "I don't think there's any question that Jeff, of all people, understands the value of the premium draft picks," Boras said. "He understands that there are a great number of success points, if you are selective and choose the right athletes."

* Towers said Moorad's past as an agent strengthened talks that netted several deals, notably the $775,000 and $600,000 commitments to Williams and Sampson, who, partly because of signability concerns, had dropped to 52nd and 114th in the draft. "Jeff was very involved, and he's been on the other side before," the GM said. "He provided a lot of useful info on maybe where the agent was, the approach and the timing of the negotiations. It's not often you have a guy on your side who's been on the other side of negotiations."

* His dealings as an agent gave Moorad firsthand knowledge of why a few of the Padres' bigger draft decisions hadn't panned out. Moorad represented Troy Glaus, the Carlsbad High star drafted in the second round by Towers in 1994; Jake Gautreau, taken 14th overall by Gayton in 2001; and Matt Bush, the failed No. 1 overall pick in 2004.

*Moorad recently gave his perspective on those moves. "The Glaus circumstances were distinct from some of the (Gautreau and Bush) circumstances," he said. "Hindsight is 20-20. I'm sure if the Padres could again do it, they would have offered Glaus $50,000 more, or $100,000 more, or whatever. But there are limits, and I appreciated those limits on the other side of the table, as I do today." Not put off by the Glaus outcome, Moorad said, "That's the kind of aggressive drafting that we intend to do as an organization going forward. There are times when you won't sign your top picks."

* As the agent to Gautreau and Bush, Moorad saw how the Padres suffered for cutting financial corners on a first-round pick. A deal between Moorad and Towers enriched Bush, who got about $1 million extra by accepting a predraft deal for $3.15 million. But Padres scouts wanted Florida State shortstop Stephen Drew, a Boras client who, after the Diamondbacks drafted him 15th, would get $5.5 million. Moorad said the Padres, for the most part, "couldn't have known" of the "characters issues" that would plague Bush.

* Gautreau, selected 14th overall by the Padres in 2001, developed colitis as a Padres minor leaguer. Still, among the major league personnel who saw a healthy Gautreau take batting practice at Jack Murphy Stadium the week he was drafted, he already was viewed as a suspect first-round pick. Moorad confirmed that he and Towers struck a predraft deal of sorts on Gautreau's signing bonus. Padres scouts, meantime, preferred Mike Fontenot, an infielder who would have a strong year for the Cubs in 2008. Advising Gautreau much as he would Bush, Moorad got his player more money than he would've gotten lower in the first round. "Jake Gautreau was overdrafted," Moorad said.

* Towers said the Padres are trying to replicate the success of the Marlins and Twins, two scouting-strong franchises that strongly value upside in the amateur markets. Along those lines, he admits to not seeing much light at the end of the tunnel as recently as spring training. "But we've got some good young players on our team -- Will Venable, Kyle Blanks, Mat Latos," he said today. "And picking as we did in this draft, we got some guys who, if they reach their potential, they'll be impact guys. I think the last four or five years, we were probably, other than with Mat Latos, selecting more players who should advance quickly through our system, but their top end maybe was not as good as that of Tate or Williams or Sampson."

9 comments:

  1. A nice look at the behind the scenes aspects of the draft. Thanks Tom.

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  2. Wow, that was a whole week's worth of great draft tidbits, and I appreciated all of it. My thanks too!

    Despite all the stuff here that gives Pads fans optimism for the future, one thing really struck me. We basically bribed Jake with $1.5m to accept the trade? Wow. I can't say I've ever heard of anything like that before, and it makes me dislike the trade even more.

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  3. "The club gave him (Peavy) $1.5 million to help cope with expenses relating to the move to Chicago."

    That must be one expensive U-Haul truck.

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  4. Trading Peavy before he ends up in Rehab. will go down as our best deal yet.

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  5. Nice edit job.

    Being able to edit your post after it is published sure is a nice feature isn't it?

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  6. @Websoulsurfer
    Too bad you don't have that editing luxury:

    http://www.gaslampball.com/2009/7/15/947740/a-response-to-tom-garfinkels-q-a#18266583

    "Enough said"

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  7. @Axion@Websoulsurfer
    "Enough said"
    Since I was in that thread, all I can say is: Too bad the Friars didn't beat the Redbirds today. HaHa

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  8. @Axion HAHA I love it. Where's the rec button on this site???

    Web is just a bitter schmuck on every blog & message board. I enjoyed this post Kras.

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  9. Hey guys, know what THE most popular event was at Padres games in 2011? The only event that drew to capacity every time? Thats right, breakfast.

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