Logan White hadn’t reached platinum status on his frequent flier program by the end of February. But he’s getting there.
White, the long-time Dodgers head of scouting, is settling into his second year with the San Diego Padres. Though White’s dual title with the club is “Senior Advisor to the General Manager/Director, Pro Scouting,” he has been tapped for insights in a wide variety of areas of the scouting and player development operation.
White discussed his approach to the position and the vision he shares with General Manager A.J. Preller for building a foundation for long-term success.
MadFriars: Your title obviously is pretty vague. Can you give us a sense of how you balance your time between the different aspects of scouting?
Logan White: Obviously, it depends on now AJ feels and where AJ thinks I need to be most utilized. It’s also dependent on the season. As we go into spring training, I’ll spend some time there, but with the draft coming up in June, obviously I’ll spend more time on the amateur side than I would in the summer or fall. The summer would be more professional and Major League teams. It’s kind of seasonal or cyclical depending on what’s the most important and pressing need at that moment. If we’re getting ready for the trade deadline, it’ll be more professional. If it’s the international stuff that’s more pressing in the fall and winter, we’re going to do that. The same with the amateur side – it kind of depends on the season.
MadFriars: How do you fit in with what Mark Connor’s doing on the amateur scouting side?
Logan White: My role of here is to assist and advise, and provide good input from wherever. Obviously, it’s a collaboration. Certainly, Mark runs the department, and I’ve been in that seat before myself and it’s great when you have people there to feed off of. And that’s not just from a player [evaluation] standpoint, but maybe more from a ‘when you were here, what did you do with something?’ My role is to be more of an assistant or advisor, like my title suggests. There’s great communication between Mark and AJ, and we all communicate really well so it’s worked quite well so far.
MadFriars: There's a sense that between the amateur side and the unique window on the international market, this year could be a very big one for the Padres in terms of acquiring talent. Does the way things are lining up this year shift how you go about your work?
Logan White: I think it’s always kind of been our plan – particularly form AJ’s direction since we came over – to try to make our big league club as competitive as we could, but also to try to rebuild the system. So, I think with the Kimbrel move, you saw us able to bring back some really outstanding young players that have moved up to some of our best prospects and some of the better prospects in the game. So, I think the plan is sort of unfolding the way that AJ saw that it would be, and with the fact that we have a large number of draft picks and the way the international market is working out – and with AJ’s background, my background, with Mark and Chris Kemp – we’re all just trying to be really aggressive. It’s just in AJ’s nature and mine to be aggressive and go after and acquire as much talent that can come through your organization.
MadFriars: It's hard not to notice that virtually everyone who's come in on the international side is someone with whom you've had a long relationship.
Logan White: I think that’s more of a coincidence – I’ve certainly had say, but AJ obviously has a great reputation on the international and scouting. From my side, I’ve had a long-time working relationship with Acey Kohrogi who came on board last year, and having known Nomo and Takashi Saito and those guys, I think it was a collaborative effort from the top on down, but certainly with some input on my part that we need to continue to get better. And one of the things we wanted to do, I think, from day one, was improve our presence in Asia and establish more of a presence there. But really, I think that’s a testament to AJ’s background, and like I said, for me, I’m just along to go along and provide advice.
MadFriars: There's obviously a lot of speculation that the rules around the international market are going to change significantly in the next CBA. Do your conversations about strategy for now include trying to predict what that might look like in the future?
Logan White: We certainly try to take that into account. AJ’s as sharp as anybody in the business when it comes to this stuff and we certainly try to look at the landscape and the future. It’s just like human vision – they say you’ve got perfect vision if you’re 20/20. But that means you can see what’s right in front of your face. But you’ve also got to see way down the road, what’s hundreds of yards ahead of you. To me, that’s the same way looking at a baseball franchise. We have to try to see what’s in front of us, but also what’s on down the road. And that’s definitely something we try to collaborate and do, to see where we are in the present and where we’re going to be on down the road and how it’s going to affect everything. The biggest thing is the long-term health of the franchise.
MadFriars: It seems that getting scouting and player development on the same page, both at the director level, but also with individual local guys and instructors at each level, is something that is both important and hard to do. How do you approach building those bridges?
Logan White: That’s something AJ’s done a great job of. Whether it be Chris Kemp and the international scouts, they’ll sit down and talk, there’s a lot of dialogue. I don’t know that there’s anyone who does it as well as AJ – making sure that we are, as a staff, on the same page from player development to scouting. He spends a lot of time with each individual department. With Mark Conner, I’d say they do a great job of identifying the grading scale and how we’re going to do this, and how do we improve that. We just had a meeting not long ago with our young scouts, and one thing we want to do is make sure it’s the same message that comes from the top all the way through.
In a formal sense, yes, we have a lot of meetings where that goes on, but there’s also a lot of private, one-on-one, and I think that’s the fun part for me, being able to be out and spend time with scouts and the player development side.
He’s very hands-on in a good way. He looks at every detail, reads every report, and then there’s dialogue between him and Mark and Chris, myself, Don [Welke], whoever else, and I think you’ll continue to see some good things he’s put together. And I’m not just saying it because I work for the guy – you can see it for yourself on the back fields every day.
MadFriars: How do you use that loop as a scout to help a guy on the player development see and believe in what you’ve seen as the reason for optimism with a player and conversely hear what they’re dealing with on the field with guys, and take that back out the next time you’re watching an amateur?
Logan White: Most of my experiences, the good player development guys are the positive ones. Honestly, I’m more likely to be the one who says ‘Man, this guy’s not gonna hit. He’s can’t touch a slider that he’s swung at eight million times.’ I think you have to have that positivism from the development people. As crazy as it sounds, they have to be the most positive when it comes to players.
What I’ve watched over the years with development people of the years, if they’re real negative, and they say ‘ah, this guy can’t do anything, you know what, I’ll go work with that Kershaw guy, he’s gonna be great.’What I’ve seen is that the development people who are really positive, that like players, they tend to work with players, they want to improve them, they give the extra effort, and I think that’s why Luis [Ortiz] is so good. He sees the positive in everyone. I’ll watch sometimes and think, ‘That guy’s never going to hit, Louie, I don’t care how good an instructor you are.’ And there’s that scouting side of me – in scouting you get jaded because you know the odds of making the Majors are tough. I’ve always been fortunate to have those positive guys who from a development, who’ve believed that this guy’s going to do this or that player can do that, that we’re going to fix this.
What I’ve seen is that the development people who are really positive, that like players, they tend to work with players, they want to improve them, they give the extra effort, and I think that’s why Luis [Ortiz] is so good. He sees the positive in everyone. I’ll watch sometimes and think, ‘That guy’s never going to hit, Louie, I don’t care how good an instructor you are.’ And there’s that scouting side of me – in scouting you get jaded because you know the odds of making the Majors are tough. I’ve always been fortunate to have those positive guys who from a development, who’ve believed that this guy’s going to do this or that player can do that, that we’re going to fix this.
To me if in your system, you make the player the priority and he really knows that and feels that, and you care about him, you’re going to have success. It is still a human game, with emotions and training players and raising them right – especially if you’re dealing with young players. I’ve seen it too many times, players who I signed and drafted who, when they were young, they spent time at my house, I helped them on their way, and I don’t need to. But they always know there was a scout, a coach, someone who believed in them. Everyone in the organization has to genuinely care about each other and if you bring in the right talent and the right mindsets, it’ll happen. And hopefully, that’s what I’ll be a part of here and I think that was part of the success I’ve had in Los Angeles.
Everyone in the organization has to genuinely care about each other and if you bring in the right talent and the right mindsets, it’ll happen. And hopefully, that’s what I’ll be a part of here and I think that was part of the success I’ve had in Los Angeles.