Draft Philosophy Shifts

The Oakland A's went against their standard practice of selecting polished collegiate players, taking two high schoolers with their first two picks and a junior college pitcher with their third pick. More inside...

Out of all the components to the controversial yet best-selling book "Moneyball," the one that stood out most -- and was copied most by other teams -- was the A's philosophy of drafting polished, low-risk college players in the amateur draft.

Three years after the book came out, that philosophy is nearly obsolete.

In this year's draft, the A's selected a high school pitcher with their first selection for the first time since Todd Van Poppel in 1990, followed that with a prep outfielder compared to Mark Kotsay, and a junior college pitcher who missed 2005 with a torn ACL.

They later drafted a college pitcher coming off "Tommy John" surgery, another prep pitcher, and an outfielder from the Puerto Rico baseball academy high school.

In past years, most of those players would be off-limits to the A's, but their strategy has clearly changed. Last year, the A's drafted high school players with six of their first nine.

"There were always high school guys we liked, but we liked the college guys more," scouting director Eric Kubota said.

"In the past couple years, it's changed, where the high school guys we liked were head and shoulders above the college players we liked."

The Van Poppel selection turned into a disaster. The A's hope that changes with right-hander Trevor Cahill, who had so much competition on his Vista High (San Diego County) team that he didn't start pitching regularly until this year.

Area scout Craig Weissmann followed Cahill for over a year. General manager Billy Beane, who loves San Diego draftees having been one himself, saw him in person.

The A's loved his athleticism, delivery, body type, four pitches, intelligence, and baseball savvy.

Kubota called him "the best high school pitcher I saw all year" and the A's were pleasantly surprised he was still available.

"It still hasn't hit me yet," Cahill said. "I'm excited, but it's not real."

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