Kiley McDaniel on the 2014 draft

In the fourth, and final segment, of our post-draft coverage we interview Scout.com's expert himself, Kiley McDaniel, who has been working with Scout.com for the past two years.

Previously he has worked in the baseball operations department for the Orioles, Yankees, and Pirates He has also been a contributor to ESPN, Baseball Prospectus, and Fangraphs.

He was the best so Fox/Scout hired him to be our National Baseball writer.

What do you think sets you apart from other experts when it comes to evaluating talent for the draft?

Kiley McDaniel: I think the biggest thing is that I don't just look at prospects the year leading up to them being drafted. For both high school and college players, I will see them as freshman and sophomores and start to come up with preliminary reports on them well before they are draft eligible. This way even if an injury were to happen , I still have a larger body of work to work off of.

In addition, when I talk to teams' scouts, they are pretty tight lipped when it comes to players that could be drafted by their team that year. But if I were to ask them about a player that wont be drafted for another year or two they will give me their honest evaluation, there is no strategic benefit to them withholding information on a player that wont be drafted for a few years. Most experts will start evaluating talent for the next years draft around now that this years draft is over and summer leagues are starting. I already have a top 50 list for 2015 as well as an even further out list for 2016.

Does that make me necessarily better? I don't know, but it at least gives me a wider scope to work with when evaluating talent.

Do you evaluate your own mock draft?

Kiley McDaniel: I am not sure about evaluate. I will go through and see how many I got right in the first round and check them off. I think I got four or five of the top ten, and the ones I didn't it was my number two option. Once you get passed the top ten or so picks it just becomes an educated guess for most of the teams.

Picks 15-30 your usually lucky if you get three of them right. This was one of those years especially where there was a huge range, not necessarily of premier talent, but rather players that all evaluated as low first early second round players.

When fans look at your big board, I think we expect a team that selects 13, 51, 86, 117 etc.. to pick a player in that range on your board. Obviously it is not even close to that. Is it just a signability issue? Or teams having different opinions on whose better?

Kiley McDaniel: Part of it is that my board in particular is made by me. There are thousands of players in the country and for a lot of them the last time I see them might be in January or February. A team's scout might have seen something completely different when they saw them in April or May.

Another thing is that there is not a huge difference between players in the 60's and maybe a player in the 120's. Once you get to the second round or later a team could select a player that was number 121 on my list and the next team could select a player that is 121 on my list and I wouldn't think of it as an overdraft or a bad pick.

In football every player is within one or two years of eachother and nearly all of them have played in the national spotlight (or at least ESPN once). With baseball you have 17 year olds from a small town in the middle of nowhere all the way up to 23 year olds from major colleges. After the first round if your team selected a player that was lower or higher than their pick you cant really read much into it other than the team really liked that player.

Does signability affect the rankings?

Kiley McDaniel: It does, but it shouldn't. I try to rank them on ability not on signability, but I know there were players that I have had in the past in the top 50 and I look at Baseball America and they have the same player listed at 130 just because he probably wont sign, but say the player has top 50 talent.

Well if they have top 50 talent and you are ranking based on talent why wouldn't they be in the top 50? So I try not to let it affect my rankings, but it does a little.

You were one of the few experts to have Trea Turner as a top 10 player. Do you buy into him as a top 10 talent?

Kiley McDaniel: Turner specifically is one of the guys that give the greatest benefit to scouting them before they were draft eligible. I saw him as a freshman, I saw him a lot as a sophomore. I saw him over the summer and this spring. When all the scouts were bearing down on him, I already knew his trajectory. I was with the Pirates a few years ago and he was one of the guys we were strongly looking at to draft out of high school. So I already have a history with him.

His trajectory was originally the unknown guy who is a good athlete to a guy who added some strength but was primarily speed. All the way up to a guy who has great speed, some power, and the ability to be a good to great hitter at the plate. He matured a lot at college and started hitting lights out, breaking every record, and almost never was caught stealing while stealing 60 bases a season. It was kind of unbelievable just how good he was his freshman and sophomore year.

Then he got hurt at the very end of his sophomore year. It wasn't really enough to make him sit out, but he played through the injury. He stil performed well, but as summer ball and his junior year started he wasn't performing at the elite level he was previously. Of course this is the time that all of these national scouts start looking at him for the first time, and he is showing less than ideal ability.

Why do you think other writers were so down on him?

Kiley McDaniel: It really is amazing how little national scouts and writers pay attention to underclassman. When I talk to them the reaction is always, it doesn't matter how good an underclassman is our readers want to know about this years' draft class.

So when they started finally looking at Tuner, he wasn't healthy, didn't have the same range that he did previously, and moved to second during the team USA league. Which automatically led scouts to believe he wouldn't be able to stick at short even though when healthy he is one of the best shortstops defensively in the draft.

After the summer leagues they already went into spring ball with a negative feeling towards Turner. I think the injury caused his mechanics at the plate to change, even though he was finally healthy and he didn't hit well. I mean the numbers were still good but it wasn't what you would expect out of a top ten talent. The scouting indicators including his mechanics were off, which led to an even lower opinion.

Finally the last month or so everything clicked back into place. If you evaluate him from a high school senior to a college junior you come up with the opinion that he got hurt, fiddled with his mechanics, then got back on track.

Overall a really good talent. If you looked at him just while he was playing through the injury you would see an overhyped guy that really didn't have any skills other than great speed. Even the national cross-checkers really won't see a player again after one or two looks at the beginning of the college season. So when the teams come up with their big boards they look at Turner and have a negative feeling with him because of the small injured sample size instead of his whole body of work. Its also why I believe in my ranking system.

Were the Padres always connected with him even after the struggles?

Kiley McDaniel: He was a player that the Padres really liked at the very preliminary stages of the draft, but thought he would be taken ahead of him.

As he began to fall the Padres were still really high on him and connected with him. Even when some experts were saying he would fall to the 20's San Diego was still connected with him. I have a lot of respect the Padres and their front office so their still being linked with him, didn't necessarily change my evaluation of him but gave me more confidence in still sticking with him as a Top Ten talent. Of course Turner helped us both out by having a really good final month where everything clicked back into place.

How similar of a comp to Michael Gettys is Donavan Tate? Is this another boom or bust pick?

Kiley McDaniel: I like to stay away from comps especially when it is with a player who failed, but you're not too far off.

Gettys is another player I have seen a lot, and have talked to him a lot off the field. He is unbelievably talented, top few rounds talent as a hitter and if he wanted to be a pitcher would still be a top five round pick. I wasn't covering the draft on a national perspective during Tate's draft, and he wasn't someone we were scouting.

From what I know Gettys has a more compact and quicker swing than Tate, whereas Tate was more of a power hitter. But they are built similar. Both were boom or bust picks

I was talking to a scout a few days ago about the Brewers draft, as they drafted Harrison and Gatewood who I had back to back to back with Gettys.

All three of them are boom or bust picks, and they were saying that chances are one of them will reach their potential. While that might be true for the money you will be paying them, you'd like to make sure you are getting something in return. I think Gettys will cost the least of the three so I automatically like him a little more, and he is the only one that has a back up option to switch to the mound.

In my opinion I think Gettys has the best chance of the three of them to hit, although it is pretty close. You can argue that Gettys has the best bat speed and the best defender of the three.

Harrison already signed for 1.8, and Gettys will probably come in a little below that. Gettys is a boom or bust guy, but considering where he was taken, and assuming he doesn't ask for more than 1.5-1.6, I don't have any issue with the pick. Especially when you combine it with the value of other picks in the draft that I like. In this way even if Gettys becomes a bust it is still a solid draft.

Is there any other pick in the draft for the Padres you were particularly high on?

Kiley McDaniel: Lemond is a really interesting pick. Obviously the Padres took him there because they think they can sign him, but he will be an over-slot guy. I'm very curious what his number is.

Just as a background nearly every pitcher at Rice that has been drafted in the top five rounds has needed major arm surgery. Its kind of amazing the track record that Rice has with major arm injuries with pitchers.

It mainly stems from the track record of overuse that is known to happen at Rice. Lemond is a slightly different story as he was in the bullpen his first two seasons. This year he started in the pen but due to injuries moved to starting which he had never done before in college.

He is a power pitcher 93-95, decent breaking ball, doesn't really throw a change. I had a scout tell me that his first start he was sitting 94-98, was throwing an outstanding change that no one had seen, and the ball was just exploding out of his hand.

By his second start, scouts were already thinking that he could move up to a top 15 pick in the draft. Then he got hurt right after that. New broke that after his second start he complained of elbow soreness, but was told to go out there anyway. After his fifth start he was done for a more serious injury, and many thought it was going to be Tommy John.

Then he came back in relief the last month of the season, so I guess he didn't need the surgery, and came back out of the pen and was still throwing 96. It looks like this coach tried to screw him up, and try as he might, Lemond didn't need the surgery.. yet.

Lemond has legit #3 starter stuff, if he gets stretched out properly and can stay healthy. Or he can be a really good 8th inning guy throwing 96-98 in the pen. If his medicals check out, and he pitches some this year and stays healthy, he could be a really interesting pick.

I'm not sure if I like him better as a starter or a reliever, but he has definite big league value if he can stay healthy, and not a bad gamble for a third round choice.

He is a boom or bust pick, because of injury. I would think between him and Gettys one of them would come through. If Lemond succeeds you have a legit mid rotation starter or back end reliever, although if Gettys comes through you have a perennial all star. Those will be the two guys to really watch from this draft, especially developmentally.

Any make-up or mental issues with anyone in the draft?

Kiley McDaniel: Not that I know of. Both Gettys and Turner are really good make-up guys. They are hard workers and guys you want to have on your team. I don't know Lemond as well but I would assume he is too, if the Padres were going to draft him so high. If they fail it shouldn't be because of a lack of effort.

What did you think of the Manziel pick?

Kiley McDaniel: My initial thought was that at least one team liked him over Bortles and Bridgewater. Not sure if the other baseball people got the joke though.


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