Oakland A's Draft Q&A: Eric Kubota

The Oakland A's 2009 draft created a fair amount of buzz thanks to a few high-profile picks. We caught-up with A's Director of Scouting Eric Kubota to discuss the draft. Inside, find out more on Grant Green, Justin Marx, Max Stassi, Stephen Parker, Ian Krol, Sam Dyson, Michael Spina, Josh Leyland and more...

OaklandClubhouse: You selected a few guys in Grant Green, Max Stassi and Sam Dyson who were considered possibly big money picks going into the draft. Is that a concern for you guys as you head into this negotiating period, or do you know what you are getting into when you take those guys?

Eric Kubota: I think our feeling is that all three of those guys want to go out and play pro ball. We are going to spend this next period of time trying to come to an agreement where we are going to get them out there. Certainly we understand that in certain cases they slid a little in the draft not on their baseball abilities, but on some other reasons.

OC: What drew you to [first round pick] Grant Green? Was he someone who you had been following for a long time?

EK: Grant Green has been one of the more high-profile kids out there that we've seen. He was a guy we really liked out of high school. We've seen him for three years at USC and he's always hit. He's been a top performer at the Cape Cod League for two summers. He is a guy who we have seen ton of and we've always liked.

OC: Would you be able to compare him to anyone or does he have a pretty unique skill-set?

EK: I have been telling everybody that I go back to my childhood a little bit and he reminds me of Robin Yount a little bit. Kind of a rangy, athletic shortstop.

OC: Assuming that he signs in time to actually play this year, is he the kind of player who is advanced enough to skip over short-season and go right to a full-season affiliate?

EK: That's hard for me to say right now. I don't think that has been discussed right now. But he is certainly an advanced college player.

OC: How about [third round pick] Justin Marx? I think because of [fourth round pick] Max Stassi's profile, people were skipping over him a little bit. What kind of pitcher is he?

EK: First off, we were thrilled to get Justin Marx where we got him. He was one of the guys that we hoped would get to us at that pick. He is a polished, college, left-handed pitcher who has a four-pitch mix and really knows how to use it.

OC: What about Max Stassi? He was the big story going into Day Two of the draft because he hadn't been picked yet. Was it an advantage for you to have that break between rounds three and four to be able maybe to talk to Stassi, or was he a guy you would have taken in the fourth round regardless of the break?

EK: From an evaluation standpoint, he was way up there on our list. I guess, if anything, the break gave us time to discuss it more. It wasn't so much a situation where we talked to Max. It was more of a situation where we talked internally about what we wanted to do.

OC: Was it different this year to have that break after such an early round like round three and have the draft over three days instead of two?

EK: The hard thing about the first day was really just the long wait. It was a long, long day to, in our case, only have two picks. But actually, as it worked out, the second and third days, I think the pace of the draft was nice. We were able to stay fresh enough. In the past, we've sort of crammed it all in there on the second day and that has been a really long day, too, so it was good to have that day essentially spread over two. It was just that first day that was a little bit excruciating with the length of the day and the fact that we only had two picks in all of that period of time.

OC: You picked a couple of guys from BYU – [fifth round pick] Stephen Parker and [23rd round pick] Kent Walton. Walton was a re-draft from last year. Did you come close to signing him last year and was he a guy that you always thought you'd try to get again if the opportunity presented itself?

EK: Last year, we had a chance to sign him, and, for one reason or another, it just didn't work out. But everything was left very positively. We did have a chance to sign him, but it just didn't work out last year. We were excited to get him again this year.

OC: What kind of player is Stephen Parker? Is he someone who you expect to stick at third base?

EK: Yeah, definitely. For us, he is a potential profile third-baseman. He's got power. He's got a nice stroke from the left-side. And he can throw and play defense. He's a good baseball player. He was a guy we targeted fairly early and we saw a lot of and we were very happy to be able to get him.

OC: Speaking of power, there were two picks, one from college and one from high school in [11th round pick] Michael Spina and [16th round pick] Josh Leyland, who are supposed to have massive power. Can you tell me a little bit about each of them and whether you think their power will translate to the pros?

EK: Spina is a pretty polished college player. He has hit for power throughout his career at Cincinnati. He is a guy that we liked last year and we didn't have an opportunity to take him and I think that his track record speaks for itself. We think he is going to be able to hit and that his power is going to be able to translate. He's a strong kid. We think he has a chance to be a profile corner player in the major leagues.

Leyland is a really strong high school kid. We've seen him workout and we've seen him in games and he definitely has a lot of power potential. The catching is a work-in-progress, but certainly he has one tool that is verging on dominant, really. One really good tool.

OC: For some of the high school picks like Leyland and [29th round pick] Michael Zunino, are those players that you are going to follow throughout the summer before deciding how aggressively to pursue them?

EK: I think Leyland is a kid who we have a chance to sign relatively quickly. His demands are close to being in-line with where he got picked. Zunino is more of a summer follow and we'll see how it goes as the summer moves along. We'll scout him some more and see where we are at later in the summer.

OC: I assume that [10th round pick] Sam Dyson is going to be a similar situation to Brett Hunter last year where you are going to get to see him play some more this summer before deciding what to offer him?

EK: I'm not entirely sure that he is going to pitch that much more this summer. He does have an injury history and he did throw a lot of innings this year. We are pretty comfortable with what we scouted and what we have seen from him. It's just going to be a matter of our camp and their camp kind of talking as the summer goes along.

OC: Ian Krol was an interesting pick in round seven. He is obviously coming into this with some off-the-field issues [he was suspended for his senior high school baseball season]. Is that something that you and your area scouts have talked through and are comfortable with at this point?

EK: Definitely, definitely. For us, it was one incident and we've been told basically the background and we've met with the kid and with his family and we are comfortable that this is a good kid who just made a mistake.

OC: You drafted three younger brothers of current A's players – Bobby Crosby [42nd round pick Blake Crosby], Michael Richard [ninth round pick Myrio Richard] and Corey Brown [34th round pick Dylan Brown]. On top of the Ryan Doolittle [Sean Doolittle's younger brother] pick last year, is it fun to bring in families when that works out that way?

EK: [laughs] I guess it is nice and I am certain that they appreciate it. It wasn't necessarily by design. It just kind of worked out that way. I hadn't even thought about it that way, actually. But it is nice and I do think that the guys who are in the organization already appreciate it, so I think it is a good thing all the way around.

OC: Did you have a chance to see Blake Crosby a decent amount being that you live in Sacramento? What kind of player is he?

EK: I did see him. He hit .400 this year, so he definitely had a good season with the bat. He is a good baseball player who comes from a good baseball family. Not only does Bobby play here, but his dad Ed was a scout for us in the past. He had a good year and deserves an opportunity to go out and play pro ball.

OC: Myrio Richard was announced as a centerfielder, but he has played some infield too. Do you see him more as a centerfielder than as an infielder?

EK: Yes.

OC: He is a bit more of a power hitter than his brother is, right?

EK: Yeah, he is a little bigger and his skill-set is a little different than Michael's. He is bigger, a little more physical, and there is some real power to his game. He is probably not as far along just in terms of being a baseball player as Michael was at the same stage.

OC: You took a number of college picks from local universities. Do you get to see local players pretty frequently?

EK: We try to see them as much as possible. It is important for us to do a good job in our backyard. We try to do as good a job in Northern California as it is possible to do. I live in Northern California and our area guy obviously does and we have a few guys in the office who go out and see players, so, yeah, we scout the local kids pretty heavily.

OC: How do you feel coming out of the draft? I know that until everyone is signed and out on the field, it is hard to judge a draft, but do you feel pretty good about it at this point?

EK: Yeah. We are excited. I would say that we are always excited the week after the draft, but I would say that we are definitely excited and we feel good about the way things went. We are looking forward to getting these guys out there and getting them on the road to the big leagues.

OC: One last question, I don't know if you were aware that there was a live shot of your draft room right before you made your first pick on the MLB Network coverage. It looked like everyone was relieved when Kansas City took Aaron Crow. Were you worried that they were the team that was going to take Grant Green right before you had a chance to?

EK: You know, the live shot that they show is not really a live shot. They do take a shot of our room, but it's not actually when they show it what is going on in real time with the draft. [laughs] So I wouldn't read too much into what our reactions were.

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