Oakland A's 2010 Draft Q&A: Eric Kubota

What drew the Oakland A's to Michael Choice? What kind of pitcher is fifth-round pick Tyler Vail? Who are some sleepers in the A's draft class? We got those answers and more from Oakland A's Scouting Director Eric Kubota in a conversation on Monday.

OaklandClubhouse: How do you feel coming out of the draft? Did it go the way that you hoped it would?

Eric Kubota: I'm not sure you can ever really predict how it is going to go, but we were certainly pleased with how things fell.

OC: What drew you to Michael Choice [the A's first pick]?

EK: Just the power, first of all, the power and the strength and the hand speed. We felt as far as that goes there probably wasn't anyone else in the draft quite like him. Bat speed and hand speed is just tremendous and should translate into very good power at the major league level.

OC: How long had you been looking at Yordy Cabrera [A's second pick]? What do you project for him?

EK: Yordy's a guy who has been at the showcases for years, so we've seen him for probably two or three years quite a bit. He's another guy whose power is really his calling card. He is a very good athlete. He runs very well for his size. He's a big, strong kid who is only going to get bigger and stronger. He can really throw. We think he has a chance to play the infield and have very good power down the road.

OC: Do you feel like his father's experience as a hitting coach helps him?

EK: Yeah. It's certainly nice. Yordy's been around the game his whole life. His dad is not only a hitting coach now in the Tigers organization, but he was also a big prospect for them, as well. As far as pedigree and bloodlines and being around the game, Yordy scores very well in all of those categories.

OC: When I spoke to Aaron Shipman, he said that scouts had compared him to Denard Span of the Minnesota Twins. Do you think that is an accurate comparison?

EK: Well, I didn't see Denard Span in high school so I can't really say, but [Shipman] is certainly very athletic. He can really run and throw. We were really impressed with his hitting approach, which was really advanced for us, in our opinion. The one name that really came up when we talked about him was Curtis Granderson.

OC: Do you feel like he would be able to develop the power that Curtis did?

EK: We do think that there is a chance that he will come into some power as he matures and grows as a player.

OC: Was your familiarity with Marina High School something that played into your selection of Chad Lewis [A's fourth pick]?

EK: [laughs] I don't think that necessarily played into it. We certainly have scouted a lot of games at Marina High School over the past seven, eight or nine years or however long it has been since Daric [Barton] was there. But Chad's the same thing. He's a guy that we saw in the summer showcases and we've seen a lot of him. He's got profile corner, third base tools. He's got power potential. He's a very good athlete and he's a very good defender.

OC: Are you optimistic about signing those top four picks?

EK: Yeah, we feel good about our chances of getting them all signed.

OC: Tyler Vail [A's fifth pick] signed pretty quickly out of a Pennsylvania high school. What kind of pitcher is he?

EK: He's kind of a typical projection high school right-hander. He's a guy who our scouts in the Northeast kind of compare to Vinny Mazzaro. In fact, Jeff Bittiger, who signed Vin Mazzaro and is one of our pro scouts, has been around Tyler for quite awhile because Tyler and Jeff's son have played together on the same teams over the years. Jeff strongly recommended him.

OC: Are you concerned at all that Vail isn't your typical 6'4'' right-hander [Vail is listed as 6'1'']?

EK: We think he is big enough. When you look at starters in the big leagues, they really come in all sizes. The prototype is the big, tall right-hander, but that is not necessarily what reality is. When you look across the board they come in all different shapes and sizes.

OC: [A's sixth pick] Tony Thompson's season at Kansas was derailed at the beginning with a kneecap injury. Did you scout him more on what he did last year?

EK: Winning the Triple Crown in the Big 12 [Thompson did that in 2009] was a big deal. He certainly commanded our notice a year ago. And yeah, we gave him some benefit of the doubt this year coming back from the injury. We've seen him a lot over the years and we know the coaches up at Kansas really well and everything was very positive in what we saw this year even though the numbers weren't necessarily there to add up to what he did last year.

OC: A.J. Kirby-Jones [A's ninth round pick] has already hit a homerun for Vancouver. Is his power at the top end of the scouting scale?

EK: [laughs] Yeah. As you can kind of see a little bit, we made a conscious effort to add power into the system and Kirby-Jones is a perfect example of that. The guy probably out-performed anyone at the college level for the past few years. We have scouts who went in and said that the power was real. It wasn't due to college baseball and it wasn't due to aluminum bats or anything. They strongly felt that the power was real and that it would translate to our game.

OC: I've seen Rashad Ramsey listed as both an outfielder and as a pitcher. Which position is he going to tackle with the A's?

EK: Outfielder. He's a very athletic kid. He was signed to play football, quarterback, at West Georgia. He's a middle-of-the-diamond athlete who really showed me a knack for making contact. He's a little green around the edges but the fact is that this kid made consistent hard contact at the games that I saw him.

OC: Were you able to sign him in a similar arrangement to how the team signed Rashun Dixon in 2008 because Ramsey had a football commit?

EK: No. It was a different situation. This kid really wanted to play baseball.

OC: He was one of several picks from the state of Georgia. Was this Georgia's best talent year?

EK: Georgia was great. Georgia – it's hard to say that it is underrated – but it doesn't often get mentioned in the same breadth as California, Texas and Florida, but we think they are right there with them on a yearly basis. We think that it was an exceptional year there.

OC: You had a chance to re-draft Ryan Lipkin out of San Francisco. Were you pleased to see him still available when the 24th round came along?

EK: Yeah, definitely. We've obviously seen a lot of Ryan over the years. We think he is a very good value for us for where we got him in the draft.

OC: Were there any sleeper picks who didn't get a lot of press that you are really excited about?

EK: I think Ramsey is one of them and we've talked about him. Jordan Tripp [A's seventh-round pick] is another one. He is a tremendous athlete. He's an above-average to a plus, plus runner. He's got power potential and he can really throw. His tools are comparative to really just about anybody in the draft as far as tools across the board. So we are excited to see what will happen with him once we get him out in our player development system.

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