Padres find gold in ranks of undrafted

One of the highlights of the winter months for Padres minor league fans is the yearly prospect rankings by <i>Baseball America</i>. This year Kevin Goldstein of <i>Baseball America</i> will be ranking the top thirty prospects in the Padres' system, sometime in late January/early February. <br><br> We caught up with Kevin and got the skinny on many pressing questions. What is the process that Baseball America goes through to rank the players, and with whom in baseball are you conferring with?

Kevin Goldstein: We are really looking at a combination of a player's ceiling and his likelihood to reach it. We don't take into account opportunity. For example, if we thought the best player in the Padres system was a shortstop, we would rank him the number one prospect regardless of the fact that the Padres have Khalil Greene.

As for sources, I talked to everyone in the Padres organization who would return my call, which was everyone. So I talked to plenty of people in the scouting department, plenty of people in the player development department, and even Kevin Towers. I also speak to a number of scouts from outside the organization who saw the various Padres' farm clubs. Any surprise on who was left on the 40-man roster or who was left off?

Kevin Goldstein: Not really. The 40-man roster doesn't have a lot to do with who might be the best player, just whom you are worried about losing in Rule V. What stands out most about the Padres and their ability to scout talent and how would you rank the system overall?

Kevin Goldstein: One of the things that strikes me most about the Padres is just how many guys they sign as free agents, which is real testament to guys like Chief Gayton and their scouts. The Padres do a really good job of scouting the Independent Leagues and signing undated guys out of college. This year you will see quite a few of their top 30 players were acquired that way.

They've had a couple bad drafts recently, but I wouldn't just make that assumption based on two years. While the Bush pick was a bit of a fiasco, he was still a top ten talent, and they got some good '04 picks in (Billy) Killian and (Daryl) Jones, as well as some interesting arms in the mid-rounds. What was your opinion on the Padres draft in 2004?

Kevin Goldstein: Well there is definitely room for criticism on the draft. Essentially the Padres were told at the last minute that they wouldn't be allowed to spend money on who they were thinking, which led to kind of a rushed decision. I don't have a problem with them taking a high school player, I just think you would find it difficult to find anyone in baseball who would take Matt Bush over Chris Nelson. I do like the selections of Killian and Jones and the Padres desire to get younger throughout the organization. There are a few people who state that college baseball right now may be the equivalent to high-A in the minors or possibly even Double-A. What are your thoughts on this?

Kevin Goldstein: I really don't understand that logic at all. It's not even close to any pro level. . For example, a good college team may have four or five guys that will be EVEN drafted by a pro team. Leagues such as the Midwest League are full of former college stars. Then you have to deal with the change from an aluminum to a wood bat, which is huge.

Does that mean you shouldn't sign someone like a Stephen Drew or a Jared Weaver? No, but if you're going to give that much money you're basing your evaluation on their tools, not on their performance.

MadFriars Top Stories