MadFriars' Chat: Chad MacDonald - Part II

On the eve of amateur draft, Chad MacDonald, the Padres' Vice-President and Assistant General Manager, was gracious enough to give us some time to talk about the organization's philosophy going into Monday's big day.

The Padres will have four picks in the first 55 selections and seven in the first hundred. As with every major league team the Padres' will take the "best player available" but as San Diego fans have seen in the past that can mean many things to many people.

If I talked to any of your 29 other counterparts they would nearly all tell me they were going to pick the best player available.

I know this is tough but how do you define best player available?

Chad MacDonald: It can really be defined in quite a few ways. Which player is most likely to get to the big leagues or what player once he gets to the big leagues is the most likely to have the biggest impact?

Or you could go by position, especially if you believe getting one of the positions up the middle - shortstop or a center fielder is more valuable. Or you could want corner guys with power. Really, as you said, there are many different ways to look at it.

For us we are really looking at a variety of factors that I talked about above but once we process that information we are going to take the best player on our board and not the player who could be perceived as more "signable."

I know you guys are really big on working as a team and to coming to a consensus. Who makes the final call on the players that you take?

Chad MacDonald: That would be me.

I'm not sure if you can do this but can you tell us any of the players that you have been working out and what you tend to be looking for as opposed to watching them in games?

Chad MacDonald: [laughs] As for who we are or are not bringing in we kind of want to not publicize that too much right now. But I will promise your readers that everyone we have brought in is very good.

As for what we are looking for its usually something that we haven't seen them do yet. Some guys we may have only seen hit in a cage and want to see how they look against live pitching. We could ask a hitter to hit some to the opposite field or want to find out how a player could look at different positions. Get a chance to see someone's arm.

Really its just an attempt to fill out and complete the rest of the information that we have on the player.

When we have talked in the past you have come across as an information junkies, stats and as many different "looks" or opinions as possible.

Two questions:

One, when you guys talked about getting multiple "looks" at different players are both the scouts, cross-checkers and front office personnel looking for necessarily the same thing?

Chad MacDonald: Everybody speaks a little different language. There is usually some divergence - maybe someone has an infielder's arm rated as a 50 [this is on the scout's scale of 20-80 where major league average is usually considered a 50] while another one might have it at 55.

When you start to see bigger divergences then you have some problems.

You also have to get a feel from your scouts what they tend to like more than others. Some guys may have a little more emphasis on speed others on power. But to me what it always comes down to is getting the information from the scouts and then statistics. You may even get into other factors like a psych test if we give one to the player but everything is mainly driven by our scouts.

If I am going to really invest in a player, I need to hear it in the voices of these guys and to be able to look into their eyes. You have to trust what they see because if you don't, then you need to get new scouts. We have a really good bunch here and Jaron [Madison] does an outstanding job of leading them and making sure they are where they need to be.

Two, once you get all this information, since you are the main guy, how do you start to organize it to create a hierarchy?

Chad MacDonald: Different kinds of information is going to be important but the person I always want to talk too is the guy that has seen him the most. It doesn't mean that I don't want to talk to the guy that may have seen someone pitch for one inning but the guy that has seen him several times is going to be able to tell me a lot more usually.

In the San Diego Union Tribune on Friday, Bill Center reported that the organization ranks the top 100 players and then it starts to go by position.

How does that proceed?

Chad MacDonald: We try to rank our big board by several factors by role, by impact but everything is about risk/reward. For example maybe someone may have a tougher time reaching their potential but if they do they could have much more impact.

Once we get done with our top one hundred prospects then it becomes who is the best player available in a certain category. How many left-handed pitchers have we taken. How many catchers? How many middle infielders?

You want to make sure that you got everyone possible.

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