MadFriars' Chat: Chad MacDonald

Chad MacDonald is the vice-president and assistant general manager for the San Diego Padres and with it has one of the most important jobs in the organization.

To provide the talent for the minor league system through the amateur draft on June 4. In short, unless the Padres have a strong minor league system that can provide them quality players before they are eligible for free agency, it's going to be pretty tough to win.

And in order to have a good minor league system, you have to have the horses.

Chad's job is to find the horses.

How does this year's draft look compared to other years?

Chad MacDonald: Every year is always different but there are players all over and its our job to find them.

For this year's draft its not as top heavy as last year, but there is some depth in the high school ranks. For college bats it should be a little lighter than in other years, but every draft has good players that can help the organization.

There has been so much talk about the new collective bargaining agreement. How much is that going to play into your selections if at all? Are you still going to take the best player at every round regardless of signability issues?

Chad MacDonald: You have too and especially at this time of year we are really still working on evaluating players both on and off the field. We have to be able to know what is out there before you can start determining how you are going to allocate funds.

But in reality you can't even do that because you don't have any control about where players will be. What you can control is how you put together your information and that is what we are doing right now.

Your predecessor Jason MacLeod was very much into taking "impact players" particularly when compared to the Alderson/Fuson regime.

Your record with the Mets seems to indicate that you have a somewhat similar philosophy. You aren't just looking for who might make the majors but who could be a star?

Chad MacDonald: "Impact" is really a tricky word because a player can have an effect in the big leagues in so many ways. If you are using the word to mean like a superstar there are very few of those guys out there and even fewer of them that end up making it.

As you can imagine quite a few teams are interested in players like that.

On the other hand I'm not really sure what a "safe" pick is either because there is always an element of risk and reward.

Again, you can't really dictate what the draft class is going to do; some are going to have more impact than others. But at the same time we are not a group that is going for vanilla either. We're looking to take someone of substance that can help the organization win.

The pick you took last year in the first round with the Mets Brandon Nimmo was really interesting. How do you scout someone that is from a state where they don't play high school baseball and more importantly rank him above so many other players?

Chad MacDonald: You can go from game to game and all of them are intriguing in some way and you want all of them in your system. But you have to choose because we can't have them all and they aren't free.

We try to take a look on a variety of different levels. For example how much depth is there at the position? If you see a left-handed pitcher you like you better grab him early because there aren't that many of them out there. Same with catcher and shortstops.

On the opposite end of the spectrum there are a lot of right-handed high school pitchers but then again its also a matter of degree. How good is this pitcher compared to others and where would he rank overall?

PETCO is such a unique place. The last group put a particular emphasis on speed and athleticsm. Is it the same way with you?

Chad MacDonald: I've heard about the PETCO profile and I don't buy into it. When you think about it what team doesn't want athleticism and speed?

I know its harder to hit balls out of right field in our park but I am not going to walk aways from good left-handed hitter because of it. We also play half of our games on the road and there are always trade opportunities.

I know I'm repeating myself a little but you can't make the draft into something it isn't. The draft has to come to you and we do our best to get the best possible players.

With pitchers especially there is so much concern about injuries. What types of precautions can you take?

Chad MacDonald: You can try to take a bunch of them but nothing is foolproof. They all are going to break down to some degree not matter how tall, short, strong, athletic or non-athletic they are.

There have been many smart guys in the game that have tried to analyze it and they still haven't come up with a great answer either.

We try to look at the sequence; the delivery action, the effort that goes into the pitch, who throws strikes easier - the more strikes you throw the less pitches you need.

We get a lot of questions if the Padres are going to draft for a certain position, say shortstop as compared to a better player who may be a corner OF/1b type. Is it always about taking the best player regardless of position?

Chad MacDonald: I know its the oldest cliche in the book, but its about taking the best player available. You can never have enough pitching, shortstops, catching or more importantly good players.

If all things are equal, or there is any doubt, you like to stay in the middle of the field for position players; shortstops, catchers and center fielders. For pitching you like lefties.

But you know when it comes down to it I like pitchers that get people out and position players that can hit.

Most importantly I like good players.

The trick is to find them.


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