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Josh Boyd has, very simply, a great job. He writes about minor-league baseball for a living, and as a National Writer with Baseball America, he does it for the Bible of the minor-league baseball world. He’s young (31), recently married (to Michelle, last fall), and filled with tremendous enthusiasm for the game of baseball. How can you beat that?

So when we went looking for an expert to comment on the Blue Jays’ farm system, we didn’t have to look very far. And when Josh responded to our cold-call e-mail asking for his time and insight, he didn’t hesitate in agreeing. Pleasant in conversation, deeply knowledgeable about his subject matter and unafraid to offer strong opinions, Josh was great to correspond with, and we’re delighted that he agreed to become the latest person to sit down for a Batter’s Box Interview.

Josh got his start the way most minor-league experts did: a lot of hard work and dedication. He began by writing scouting reports on prospects for Torontonian Mike Mittleman’s “Extra Innings” page for STATS Inc., back when the service was on America Online. Josh remains deeply grateful for that initial break. “He gave me my first chance to write for anyone, when I pestered him with e-mails about seven years ago,” he recalls. “I had no experience, but I was an avid follower of prospects, and Mike allowed me to cover [them] on his site. I really owe a lot to him for taking that risk.”

That in turn led to writing the Angels’ major-league reports in STATS’ own Scouting Notebook -- “still one of my favourite books every year,” he says. Josh eventually created his own Website and began ranking prospects across the minor-league spectrum, back before that became the widespread practice it is today.

Then came his big break. Josh had met Jim Callis, one of BA’s most respected minor-league experts, a few years back, and Jim remembered Josh when BA needed someone to write a Phillies’ Top 30 Prospect list. “I can’t tell you how excited I was to have the chance to write for BA, which I’ve been reading since high school,” Josh recalls.

“I’ve always been interested in reading and writing about young, up-and-coming players,” he says. “I guess as a kid, it was always fun to know about the future stars before everyone else. I still have old Mazeroski magazines where I have the Farm Report section all marked up. BA helped spur my interest through the years.”

But Josh has a key advantage over many of us amateurs banging away on keyboards: he sees the players in action, and he sees them often. Living in North Carolina, a hotbed for minor-league teams, he attends two or three games a week, and circles the dates when his “target prospects” play. “I really believe this is critical to what I do, and hope that it brings a little extra to my prospect reports,” he says. Moreover, the game attendance has helped him develop a long list of contacts within baseball. “The more players I see, the easier it is to talk about them with scouts and player development people.”

Not only that, but Josh is one of the few fortunate folks who’ve attended the Major League Scouting Bureau's legendary Scout Development Program (aka “Scout School”) in Arizona. He wrote about the experience -- what he calls “absolutely one of the best I’ve been fortunate enough to participate in during my career” -- in a series of widely read articles at Baseball America last year.

What’s so great about Scout School? Pretty much everything, reports Josh. “It gives you a foundation, or builds upon your foundation, for evaluating and projecting players,” he says. “There is a wealth of experienced scouts to learn from, and the contacts and friendships I made there were worth the price of admission. If the Major League Scouting Bureau ever decides to open the school to the public, it would be a tremendous experience for hard-core fans and people who have aspirations to scout.”

One of the first lessons Josh learned, and one that he still takes into consideration when evaluating players in person, is that scouts look for “players who make the game look easy. They’re the ones who have an easier time repeating things -- be it deliveries or swings -- and they tend to have the longer careers. Athletes don’t always make the best baseball players in the world, but players who play with a ton of effort in everything they do don’t enjoy careers as long as those who play the game effortlessly.”

Josh’s many long nights at the ballyard, assessing players in person and chatting with the wise men of the game, have had a strong impact on his approach to player evaluation. “I have been heavily influenced by traditional scouts,” he acknowledges, but that doesn’t make him a Luddite. “I also have an appreciation for statistical analysis, so I’m not scared of change or opposed to new and unique philosophies.”

But when it’s suggested that the current Blue Jays regime is ahead of the curve in emphasizing skills over tools, he’s quite clear in his assessment. “I strongly believe that above-average tools will help you win championships in the long run,” he says. “I’ve been told that Pat Gillick, one of the best ever, burned the following mantra into his scouts' heads: ‘Average tools make average players make average teams.’

“Reducing risk is all good in the draft, and necessary for many teams these days,” he agrees. “But it’s going to be difficult to build a nucleus along the lines of Carlos Delgado, Vernon Wells and Roy Halladay without taking those risks. I believe the Athletics’ and Jays’ college-only draft philosophy will result in players who will get to the big leagues quicker, [but] with less payoff.”

Under Pat Gillick, Tim Wilken, Chris Buckley and others, says Josh, the Blue Jays scouting staff was geared to take the best player available. “There was more flexibility, which meant they could produce a high-end talent like Wells, Halladay or Alexis Rios out of high school, or solid baseball players with plate discipline skills like Reed Johnson or Gabe Gross from college. They were able to draft based on where the best talent is, regardless of high school or college. They also worked the draft-and-follow process as well as any club, and had a tremendous presence in Latin America. I don’t see how cutting off half of the talent pool should be considered ahead of the curve.”

That said, Josh is also quick to praise the acumen of the Jays’ current regime. For example, he notes, “Chris Buckley is still a huge part of the scouting process … it was his draft that we graded as the best in 2002. Keith Law is very intelligent and brings a different perspective to the organization. Jon Lalonde is a hard worker with very good administrative skills, from what I’ve heard. They don’t have the experience that most people around baseball have in their respective roles, but I think we’ll have to see in the next few years if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.”

As Josh observes, Baseball America rated the Blue Jays’ 2002 draft as the best in baseball, and followed that up with a Top Five ranking for the 2003 draft as well. Does that mean that the Jays’ organizational standing will have risen accordingly when BA’s 2004 Prospect Handbook is released? He’s not so sure.

“For us, they will still rank fifth or sixth,” Josh predicts. “They were sixth last year, and most of the prospects that earned them that ranking are still in the system. The upside of Alexis Rios, Dustin McGowan and Guillermo Quiroz as the top three -- not necessarily in that order -- measures up with most of the strong organizations’ impact prospects. They’ve added more depth than impact potential under their new draft philosophy, but Aaron Hill, Russ Adams, Josh Banks and David Bush are good prospects who will contribute.”

Josh thinks it’s difficult to determine which team had the best draft so soon after the fact. “The immediate impact [that] college players can have in the lower levels of the minors certainly helps the Jays’ last two classes look very strong right out of the chute,” he says. “I think you can make a case that they will develop a good number of big leaguers from those two drafts, but looking back to 2002, I would take the Cubs and Diamondbacks before I took the Jays, and I really like the Dodgers’ effort.”

Josh goes into more detail on some of the pitchers from 2002: “David Bush had a breakthrough season after a move to the rotation, but most scouts will still tell you that he is a middle- to back-of–the-rotation starter, if not headed back to the pen eventually [though Josh personally thinks Bush is more likely to stay in the rotation because of his command]. We liked the arms they were able to add to the system, and Chad Pleiness looked like a steal in the fifth round; we expected a better first year. Instead, it was Adam Peterson who emerged. I think this year’s crop is similar, and I don’t think 2002 will hold up as one of the best, because I don’t see a lot of late-round gems that year. In 2003, they again loaded up on pitching, but it just doesn’t stand head and shoulders above other drafts for me.”

How about 2003? Josh is reluctant to assess the pitchers from last June’s draft -- it’s early, the sample sizes are very small, and he’s particularly inclined to reserve judgment on pitchers who don’t possess overpowering stuff. But he allows that he likes what he’s seen and heard of Josh Banks, Kurt Isenberg and Jamie Vermilyea.

Josh also thinks highly of Aaron Hill, the shortstop the Jays drafted in the first round last June, though he’s unsure whether that will be his eventual position in the majors. “He does project or profile better at third than short, especially since the Blue Jays have to play half of their games on turf,” he notes. “If they played on grass, I think it might be a different story. While I believe defence is a lot more important than sabrmetricians do, I think guys can get written off unfairly before they’ve had a chance to prove themselves in the field. When you look at a shortstop like Rich Aurilia, it leads me to believe a steady, athletic player like Hill can play short.”

So what does that presage for Hill’s predecessor as first-round draft choice, Russ Adams? “He looks like a solid player, maybe even an occasional all-star, but probably a second baseman, not a shortstop,” says Josh. “Some scouts have told me that because he doesn’t have the arm for the position, he tends to rush his throws to make up for a lack of arm strength.”

Josh was surprised and interested to hear of the controversy at Batter’s Box over Adams, and the debate over whether his upside more closely resembled Chuck Knoblauch or Brent Abernathy. “I think the Knoblauch comps are fair,” he suggests. “I don’t necessarily see him as the perennial All-Star/MVP candidate that Knobby was in Minnesota. You know, a player like fellow UNC grad Brian Roberts comes to mind, as a switch-hitting middle infielder who plays the game the way it’s supposed to be played. Roberts can play short in the bigs, though, and I don’t think that Adams will be able to stay there.”

We asked Josh to play a little game of “word association” with ten other Blue Jays prospects. Here’s what we came up with.

(a) Brandon League
“Cheddar. Gets electric movement from low arm slot; just needs to learn a better feel for pitching.”

(b) DJ Hanson
“Overpowering, oft-injured and undersized.”

(c) Dave Gassner (recently lost to Minnesota as a PTBNL)
“Finesse, command, limited upside in the majors. [You have] to be so fine to succeed at that level without plus stuff.”

(d) Tyrell Godwin
“Wish he would have started his baseball career one of the first ten times he was drafted. Good athlete.”

(e) Jorge Sequea
“One of the best minor league Rule 5 picks from 2002. I see him as one of the poster boys for what statistical evaluation can bring you -- and I mean that in a good way.”

(f) Vince Perkins
“Explosive stuff, but raw. Great example of what scouts can uncover. The risk involved was low, the ceiling is high -- a heckuva pick. May be trade bait in the next couple years because of his lack of command.”

(g) John-Ford Griffin
“I expected more bat out of him when the Yankees drafted him out of FSU in 2001. The lack of power and athleticism in the outfield concerns me, and clouds his future -- where will he play? What role will he serve in the majors?”

(h) Adam Peterson
“Emerging, live arm.” What of the suggestion that Peterson could lead the Jays in saves next year? “It would be a little overzealous to say that…. That could ultimately be his role, but I don’t see a lot of rookies who can step in and succeed in that role. Of course, Aquilino Lopez did it last year, but he’s not a traditional closer and I don’t see him holding up in that role -- which isn’t what they’re trying to do with him anyway.”

(i) Jayson Werth
“Athletic and versatile, [but] he may have a tough time ever securing a full-time job. I think his swing can get long, and he may be able to be exploited by good major-league stuff. His wrist injury obviously didn’t help him, but I think he’ll find a home elsewhere at some point if he doesn’t get one with Toronto as an insurance policy. I’d like to see him make better adjustments.” Josh adds that an Eli Marrero comparison is a fair one here.

(j) Francisco Rosario
“I rated him as one of the best five pitching prospects in baseball before his injury, which might make me as high on him as anyone was. I’ve heard that he was dominant in Instructional League, throwing back into the mid-90s. Ramon Ortiz is a pretty good comparison, because Ortiz was confident with his changeup at a young age, as Rosario is. [But] Ortiz doesn’t regularly throw as hard anymore, and I project Rosario as more of a strikeout/overpowering type pitcher than Ortiz has become.”

And finally, how about the cream of the crop? We asked Josh to briefly rate the Jays’ five best prospects from among Dustin McGowan, David Bush, Alexis Rios, Gabe Gross and Guillermo Quiroz. But he threw us a slight curve and ranked the Top Eight.

“I would take Rios, McGowan and Quiroz 1, 2 and 3,” he says. “I would have Francisco Rosario in this discussion, along with Vince Perkins and possibly even Brandon League, but I would take Gross, then Bush out of those two, because I still see Gross as a starting right fielder.”

We appreciated Josh’s insights and the time he took to speak with us about his own position and the Blue Jays’ minor-league system overall. And although modesty almost prevented us, in the end we also asked him to assess Batter’s Box’s own Farm Reports, and were pretty darn happy when Josh described them as “tremendous; good insight and analysis.” That’s about as nice a Christmas present as this Bauxite needs this year. Once again, our thanks to Josh Boyd of Baseball America.
An Interview with Josh Boyd | 58 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Pistol - Wednesday, December 17 2003 @ 12:00 PM EST (#79554) #
Nice job, interesting stuff.

What does Cheddar mean?
_Jordan - Wednesday, December 17 2003 @ 12:01 PM EST (#79555) #
Cheddar is a seriously good fastball.
_Robbie - Wednesday, December 17 2003 @ 12:08 PM EST (#79556) #
I have to admit that I do agree with his belief that you need to take risks in the draft in order to get the best players. Since the Jays do have some additional picks this year, hopefully they'll use a couple of the first/supplemental/second/2thirds for some quality high school talent that could develop to be good.
Mike Green - Wednesday, December 17 2003 @ 12:13 PM EST (#79557) #
Great interview, Jordan. Those were interesting and heartening comments about Rosario's performance in the Instructional League.

Josh Boyd and John Sickels come at this work from different perspectives, but both feel that a mix of high school and college draft picks make sense. While I might disagree, the opinions of those thoughtful analysts leads me to the view that this is surely a topic on which reasonable people can come to different conclusions.

I can't agree that Chuck Knoblauch is a fair comparison for Russ Adams, and I don't think Josh is really suggesting this. At age 22, Chuck hit .281/.351/.350 in the bigs. At age 23, Russ Adams has had half a season in double A. By age 26-27, Chuck was slugging .500. I assess Adams' chance to do that as essentially nil.

On the other hand, the Brian Roberts comparison that Josh makes is a fair one. Roberts last year at age 25 had his best year and hit .270/.337/.367. Roberts is OK, but the O's have a double A ballplayer Mike Fontenot, who went .325/.399/.481 and is likely to be their second baseman alongside Tejada for years to come.
_Mike B - Wednesday, December 17 2003 @ 12:21 PM EST (#79558) #
I have to agree with Boyd that the Jays' strong emphasis on selecting college talent in the draft could potentially lead to an absence of superstar prospects (though I make this statement for different reasons than Boyd). I'm not of the belief that more superstars come from the high school ranks as compared to college; however, as more and more clubs choose to emphasize college talent in the draft, the greater the probability that potential superstar college talent might not be available by the time the Jays get to select (i.e. presumably the supply of potential superstar college prospects will not change too much from year to year; however, if more teams emphasize college talent, then there will be less "superstar" prospects to go around and the teams with the higher position in the draft will take these prospects off the board). Conversely, potential superstar high school talent may stick around longer in the draft.

Were I in a position to do so, I would recommend that the Jays keep more of an open mind with their draft philosophy (as Boyd has suggested). Though the Jays haven't exclusively focussed on college talent in each of their last two drafts, I believe a greater emphasis on high school talent in the earlier rounds is a worthwhile risk for a franchise which has to gamble a little bit in hopes that they may produce major league talent which is comparable to the talent which their divisional rivals purchase on the FA market or via salary dump trades. IMO, a greater emphasis on college talent is far from unacceptable (particularly since this approach has provided the system with some solid prospects in the last two years); however, the Jays should be well served by gambling somewhat on high school talent in the earlier rounds.
_Nigel - Wednesday, December 17 2003 @ 12:22 PM EST (#79559) #
I think his description of the drafting philosophy is an interesting one. It's a view that I'm coming more and more to share. Having said that, I still think it was the right strategy for JP to have in the last two drafts. The system above A ball was bereft of pitching and not much better for position prospects. The draft philosophy has accelerated the restocking of the upper levels of the system and that is a very good thing. However, I agree that over the long term you need high end prospects and I personally do not see a single high end prospect out of the last two drafts. I would like to see a return to a more balanced drafting philosophy in the future.
_Jordan - Wednesday, December 17 2003 @ 12:29 PM EST (#79560) #
It's also fair to add that the front office has intimated that high-school picks may become more common once the system is fully restocked and self-sustaining. As Nigel suggests, you need to walk before you can run. But Josh's points in this regard are well-taken.
_Nigel - Wednesday, December 17 2003 @ 12:41 PM EST (#79561) #
Just to emphasize Mike's point about Adams. Which one of these three is not like the other (to steal someone else's turn of phrase)?

career lines:

Knoblauch - .289/.378/.406
Roberts - .258/.316/.348
Abernathy- .245/.295/.327

Also remember that Knoblauch's career lines are hurt considerably by his terrible career decline in his last 2-3 years. It's a long way from Chuck Knoblauch to Brian Roberts.
_Scott - Wednesday, December 17 2003 @ 12:45 PM EST (#79562) #
Doesn't the fact that JP signed an 18-yr old from Taiwan suggest that he does see the need to take the occasional risk on a high schooler.
_Mike B - Wednesday, December 17 2003 @ 12:48 PM EST (#79563) #
Doesn't the fact that JP signed an 18-yr old from Taiwan suggest that he does see the need to take the occasional risk on a high schooler.

I think we're referring to draft philosophy.
_ainge_fan - Wednesday, December 17 2003 @ 12:52 PM EST (#79564) #
Thanks, Gideon. Great interview.
Lots of good insights from Josh.
Bit of a curve but probably not too surprising to hear his rankings - with the BA slant towards tools, emphasized in high ranks for Rosario and League and Perkins, and a Box slant for production. Mostly, I'm thrilled to *finally* hear something tangible about Rosario actually pitching. He's heard or seen something that I haven't had much access to, which is cool. Mid 90's - giddyup....hope he likes Manchester. And I think it's now official - David Bush *is* Jason Arnold.
Interesting comments on Pleiness, who's stock seemed to drop this year d/t high bb rates, and low K rates. He was much better in the first half than the second, so its maybe a reminder I think to not write off too much too soon. Similar comments were made about this year's 5th rounder as well (Justin James) being a steal.
His comments about the Jays drafts are fair. That said, we can anticipate that future Jays drafts will be closer to what Boyd looks for - since the system is now in pretty good order top to bottom(though more hitters are in order). JP has stated this will likely be the case - a few more investments in *upside* guys will be more closely considered, though he also said that another pitching heavy draft might be necessary to get the Jays to the *self-sufficient* point. IMO that time is not far off - around mid '04 to be precise. And I don't really see Ricciardi being shy about either adding or moving the "quicker arriving" guys to fill needs.
Would have loved a few words on Chris Leonard, but I'm not complaining.
Thanks again to Josh and Gideon both.
_Scott - Wednesday, December 17 2003 @ 12:56 PM EST (#79565) #
Yes, but if he is willing to do it outside of the draft why wouldn't he also do it on draft day, if he feels there is somebody worth the risk.
_MatO - Wednesday, December 17 2003 @ 01:03 PM EST (#79566) #
Rosario. Mid 90's. Drool.
_Mike B - Wednesday, December 17 2003 @ 01:05 PM EST (#79567) #
Yes, but if he is willing to do it outside of the draft why wouldn't he also do it on draft day, if he feels there is somebody worth the risk.

Ricciardi may well just do that but hasn't as of yet. As Jordan has reminded us, JP has said that early high school draft picks are forthcoming; however, I'd like to see this balanced approach take place in 2004 rather than "at some point in the future."
_John Neary - Wednesday, December 17 2003 @ 01:12 PM EST (#79568) #
From today's Baseball America Prospect Report email:

Baseball America In The Media

* There is an excellent interview with our very own Josh Boyd at, a fantastic Blue Jays fan site.

Congratulations, Jordan!

(By the way, if you're reading this and you don't get the BAPR, you should be.)
_Rich - Wednesday, December 17 2003 @ 01:12 PM EST (#79569) #
Terrific interview. I'm not sure that it's fair to assume that the Jays will lose out on high upside players due to their emphasis on collegians. The A's managed to draft Giambi, Hudson, Mulder, and Zito within a span of just a few years, and they're hardly the only stars that came out of college (Nomar, Glaus, Pujols, Bonds, Randy Johnson, Kevin Brown, etc.)

Even if the assumption is correct, the Jays already have stars in Wells, Halliday, and Delgado (if he stays), so how many more do they need if they can fill the rest of the roster with solid, quality major-leaguers?

My "stud" count:

Marlins: I-Rod, Beckett
Angels: Glaus, Percival, Anderson
D-Backs: Johnson, Schilling, Gonzalez
_JOhn Ducey - Wednesday, December 17 2003 @ 01:22 PM EST (#79570) #
I agree with the comments on draft philosophy. Make good steady picks now, take more higher risk high schoolers once the system is stocked better. I do note that the Jays did take two high school pitchers fairly early in 2002 (Brian Grant 7th round, Russel Savickas 9th round). However, I do fear that JP is a little too in love with the Mike Bordicks of the world (this is how I see Adams/ Hill)

It is interesting to reflect that drafting is still such a crapshoot. Rios (despite being a first rounder), Quiroz and Perkins, listed by Boyd as some of the top baby jays, have certainly not held that position for very long (in my limited memory).
Pistol - Wednesday, December 17 2003 @ 01:28 PM EST (#79571) #
Cheddar is a seriously good fastball.

Is Sharp Cheddar a fastball with good movement?
_Jordan - Wednesday, December 17 2003 @ 01:30 PM EST (#79572) #
And Old Cheddar = Nolan Ryan
Coach - Wednesday, December 17 2003 @ 01:35 PM EST (#79573) #
Thanks very much to Josh for doing this, and to Jordan for presenting it so well.

I'm very encouraged about Rosario and League, but no matter how often I hear the Adams-to-second reports, I remain optimistic that he's a shortstop. He looked terrific there when I saw him on TV, and at least one esteemed scout (who is now one of the best GMs in the game) likes him a lot.

Of course the Jays will gradually start drafting more 18-year-olds, along with signing more of them from other countries as free agents. Nigel said it well -- the system was "bereft," and the "restocking" of the past two drafts has been accomplished. Mixing in a few high-risk, high-upside youngsters seems more logical now that the urgency has diminished and there is time for them to develop.

Taking a high-schooler early in 2004 just to demonstrate a flexible philosophy doesn't make sense; nor does selecting more position players just because they went pitching-heavy in the last two drafts. I think the system is in good enough shape now to implement a "best available player" approach. That said, I'm not expecting the Jays to use their first-rounder or sandwich pick on a teenage catcher.
_salamander - Wednesday, December 17 2003 @ 01:41 PM EST (#79574) #
Great interview, nice presentation. Encouraging comments on Rosario. If several of the pitching prospects continue to emerge--esp. McGowan, Rosario, Bush, Peterson, League, Perkins--the future looks bright indeed.
Craig B - Wednesday, December 17 2003 @ 02:10 PM EST (#79575) #
I do fear that JP is a little too in love with the Mike Bordicks of the world (this is how I see Adams/ Hill)

I'm flabbergasted. Mike Bordick played 1720 games in the major leagues, Mike Bordick was an All-Star, Mike Bordick was an everyday starting shortstop on an NL champion and two other playoff teams. He had over 150 win shares in his career (a figure I think is low... Bordick's evaluation by defensive WS seems a bit low to me).

If I could make a Mike Bordick pick every time I had a mid-first-round choice, I'd be ecstatic. To use a guy like Bordick as a negative example, just blows my mind.

Of course, Bordick himself was an undrafted free agent, while guys like Adams and Hill were consensus first-rounders with more talent in one hand than Bordick had in his entire body.

Just for shits and giggles, though, let's look at what sort of players are typically picked from mid-first-round selections. We'll use Bordick's year, 1986, as out first example, since those guys are all near the end of their careers. Baseball Cube only lists those guys who actually made the majors, so all the picks aren't there...


1 10 Shawn Boskie Chicago Cubs P R R 6-3 200 Modesto Junior College

1 11 Thomas Howard San Diego Padres OF B R 6-2 205 Ball State University

1 13 Ryan Bowen Houston Astros P R R 6-0 185 Hanford (CA)

1 16 Roberto Hernandez California Angels P R R 6-4 235 University of South Carolina-Aiken

1 16 Scott Hemond Oakland Athletics C R R 6-0 205

1 17 Scott Scudder Cincinnati Reds P R R 6-2 180

That's just ugly. Of the 10-20 guys, one was a decent long-term player... but Hernandez was not quite the equal of Bordick. Moving on (again at random) to 1988...

1 10 Robin Ventura Chicago White Sox 3B L R 6-1 198 Oklahoma State University

1 14 Tino Martinez Seattle Mariners 1B L R 6-2 210 University of Tampa

1 15 Royce Clayton San Francisco Giants SS R R 6-0 183 St. Bernard (Playa del Ray,CA)

1 17 Charles Nagy Cleveland Indians P L R 6-3 200 University of Connecticut

1 19 Dave Wainhouse Montreal Expos P L R 6-2 196 Washington State University

Well that's more like it. Four good players in those 11 picks, a .364 batting average. Two of those guys were better than Bordick, two others (Clayton and Nagy) not quite as good but close. How about 1990?

1 10 Carl Everett New York Yankees OF B R 6-0 190 Hillsborough (Tampa,FL)

1 11 Shane Andrews Montreal Expos 3B R R 6-0 220 Carlsbad (Carlsbad,NM)

1 12 Todd Ritchie Minnesota Twins P R R 6-3 222 Duncanville (TX)

1 13 Donovan Osborne St. Louis Cardinals P L L 6-2 195 UNLV

1 14 Todd Van Poppel Oakland Athletics P R R 6-5 210 St. Martin (Arlington,TX)

1 17 Jeromy Burnitz New York Mets OF L R 6-0 205 Oklahoma State University

1 18 Aaron Holbert St. Louis Cardinals 2B R R 6-0 160 David Starr Jordan (Long Beach,CA)

Everett, clearly, is going to pass Bordick. Andrews and Ritchie and Van Poppel won't. Burnitz still has time... he's probably as good a player as Bordick was.

The success rate is not good. If you think you can get Mike Bordick out of a mid-first rounder, I say take it!
Pepper Moffatt - Wednesday, December 17 2003 @ 02:28 PM EST (#79576) #
14th Overall Draft Picks 1983-2002
Rich Stoll
John Marzano
Tommy Greene
Greg McMutry
Cris Carpenter (not the former Jays player)
Tino Martinez
Steve Hosey
Todd Van Poppel
Cliff Floyd
Ron Villone
Derrek Lee
Jason Varitek
Reggie Taylor
Dee Brown
Brandon Larson
Jeff Weaver
Ty Howington
Beau Hale
Jacob Gautreau
Russ Adams

Some good names in there, as well as some players who never saw the show. If Adams turns out to be the next Mike Bordick, that's a really good haul.

Mike Green - Wednesday, December 17 2003 @ 02:44 PM EST (#79577) #
Nice work, Craig and Mike M. For all my criticisms of Adams, I still think he's at worst a good backup and at best Mike Bordick, with not quite as good D but a better eye. That makes him a fine 14th pick overall in my book.
_Jabonoso - Wednesday, December 17 2003 @ 02:59 PM EST (#79578) #
Thanks to Josh and Gideon for this treat!
Ainge fan I agree with your post but for one single exception: your equation Bush=Arnold, Bush is slightly ahead because of his fine control. Both may end in the pen and hopefully the Ward-Henke duo will be somewhat back as an Arnold-Bush-Peterson trio.
_logan - Wednesday, December 17 2003 @ 03:07 PM EST (#79579) #
I think we're referring to draft philosophy.

If we are, then why is Boyd talking about Carlos Delgado, who was signed as a free agent before Puerto Rico was part of the draft?

Is it possible that Boyd is just parroting what other scouts and scouting directors have told him?
_Jonny German - Wednesday, December 17 2003 @ 03:30 PM EST (#79580) #
Great interview, Jordan, and a thank-you to Josh.

I believe the Athletics’ and Jays’ college-only draft philosophy will result in players who will get to the big leagues quicker, [but] with less payoff.

This is very powerful when coupled with a shrewd GM... Already the Blue Jays are reaching the point where there will be a crunch for spots on the 25-man roster, and already we've seen J.P. flip a spare part with little future in Toronto (Lurch) for an immediately useful piece (To steal somebody else's line, just inspired, that move). If you can produce decent major leaguers in bulk, you can flip them (3-for-1 if need be) and get what you need from teams that gamble most of their picks away. And as Rich points out very well, superstars can indeed come out of college.

And I think it's now official - David Bush *is* Jason Arnold.

Ainge fan, go check out Tim Hudson's minor league career. It's too soon to write Arnold off, and way too soon to try to slap Bush by equating him to Arnold.
_SportsmanTO - Wednesday, December 17 2003 @ 03:43 PM EST (#79581) #
Interesting comments by Boyd (BTW great interview!) I don't really have much to say about the prospects but I did want to comment on the drafting philosophy as some othere here have already done so. I agree with Boyd's assessment to a point. As Jordan said the HSers will come when the system is fully restocked. I don't think that the Jays should go out and draft a high schooler early on in the '04 draft just to show they're willing to take risks. I'd rather have them gamble with draft picks in '05-'06 when the farm should be fully stocked.

JP isn't a sabrmetric nerd, he knows he will have to take some risks in order to achieve success. In fact I believe that when the Jays get to the A's level of success that JP will gamble far more then Beane has done. Beane has done a good job with the A's and he's made some good acquisitions and such but he's never really done anything to really shake up the team and get them geared up for the playoffs. Of course this could all be economics related but a high price rental player is worth breaking the bank for if it gets you a WS.
_Rich - Wednesday, December 17 2003 @ 03:54 PM EST (#79582) #
Also keep in mind that JP was in Oakland when they made Chavez a top 5 pick out of high school.

Beane has ... never really done anything to really shake up the team and get them geared up for the playoffs.

I'm not sure about this, Sportsman. This is a guy who has acquired Damon, Dye, Durham, and Guillen down the stretch the past 3 seasons, and also threw Zito and Harden into the fire late in the year. It seems to me like Beane has been one of the most active GMs in the game in the latter half of the season.
_Robbie - Wednesday, December 17 2003 @ 04:11 PM EST (#79583) #
In response to everyone's comments about Arnold, I think it is really unreasonable to tear his abilities apart due to 2-3 months of average AAA performance. Some players have difficulties making the jump from AA to AAA while others have problems making the jump to the majors. While Arnold's statistics did suffer at AAA, this is no reason to doubt his abilities as a prospect. Someone mentioned Tim Hudson earlier --- keep in mind, he had a 4.56 ERA at AA as a 23-year-old. This is not to say that Arnold will or won't turn out like Hudon, but regardless, it is not reasonable to completely diminish any previously regarded top-notch prospect because of a 4.33 ERA and a 82:46 K:BB ratio in 120IP in his initial AAA showing. Peter Gammons constantly makes mention of the Blue Jays "Big Three" of McGowan, Arnold and Bush --- and there is very little tangible evidence thus far to discredit this assertion. All of these pitchers have at least a low 90 fastball with great command of their other pitches, and I think they will all turn out just fine...
_SportsmanTO - Wednesday, December 17 2003 @ 04:12 PM EST (#79584) #
True Rich but i'm thinking more along the lines of maybe trading one of the "untrade-ables". Sometimes you have to take away a vital piece of the franchise in order to gain the ultimate goal of a championship. It is true that the A's have lost a lot of their top tier players but the replacements have all been typical Beane Ball types. I'm thinking along the lines of trading one of the Big 3 and acquiring a big bat or something like that. It would give the impression that no one is exactly safe and that there should be some production.

Of course it could also be because they've had some rather laid back managers in Howe and Macha.
_Jordan - Wednesday, December 17 2003 @ 04:21 PM EST (#79585) #
Both Hudson-Bush and Hudson-Arnold are reasonable comps:

Tim Hudson
266 minor-league IP
23 at AA

H/IP: 0.80
BB/IP: 0.48
K/IP: 1.01

Jason Arnold
442 minor-league IP
24 at AA

H/IP: 0.75
BB/IP: 0.37
K/IP: 0.94

David Bush
193 minor-league IP
23 at AA

H/IP: 0.82
BB/IP: 0.19
K/IP: 1.01

Arnold and Hudson compare quite well, albeit Jason's slightly older. Now, Hudson's one bad minor-league season was at Double-A -- he dominated the Pacific Coast League the following year -- and neither Bush nor Arnold have succeeded at AAA yet. I'm not predicting a 20-win season at age 25 for either Jays farmhand. But I am suggesting it's way too early to be giving up on Jason Arnold.
_Rich - Wednesday, December 17 2003 @ 04:21 PM EST (#79586) #
Interesting theory. Joe Sheehan wrote a good column about a month ago suggesting the A's look at trading Zito:
_Jordan - Wednesday, December 17 2003 @ 04:22 PM EST (#79587) #
Once again, beaten to the punch by a younger Bauxite. They say the fingers are the first thing to go....
_Jabonoso - Wednesday, December 17 2003 @ 05:34 PM EST (#79588) #
Jordan: Hudson-Arnold-Bush, again David has a very special command of his pitches and that, at least in his survival race to the majors is a significant advantadge.
Logan: Drafting is used loosely for both "the draft" of US and PR players and signings for the rest of the world young players. Your clarification about Delgado signing is inconsequential and can be very well counted as a HSer drafting...
Calling our special guest as someone parroting somebody else does not sound like belonging to this blog. If you read the interview with more care you will realize that Mr Boyd has more prospect related field experience than all of us togheter and even Mr Lalonde and Mr Law togheter. He is entitled to his very own and very sound comments.
_Robbie - Wednesday, December 17 2003 @ 05:38 PM EST (#79589) #
Here's a CHAY transcript from today:

Q: Andy from San Francisco asks:
Josh, the Dodgers farm system seems to be flourishing after some down time in the late '90's - How would you compare the LA system w some of the other better farm systems around - What in your opinion are the 5 best systems in the baseball today ? thanks

A: Josh Boyd: Not in order, the Dodgers, Indians, Angels, Blue Jays, Brewers are the strongest.
_Robbie - Wednesday, December 17 2003 @ 05:39 PM EST (#79590) #
**Chat transcript**
_JOhn Ducey - Wednesday, December 17 2003 @ 05:39 PM EST (#79591) #
Craig, I suggest you have a low flabbergast threshold ;-)

I realize that Bordick played for a long time and I understand he was dependable defensively but I just would not be excited if Hill/ Adams turned out to be his equivalent. You make some good points but just because he played a long time on some good teams and lots of guys didn't make the show doesn't mean I would be "ecstatic".

Bordick numbers show he hit .260/.330/.363 lifetime. He hit 83 HR in 5342 AB (1 every 64 AB). He had 6 seasons where he hit less than .250. He only hit double figures in HR 3 times. He did get to an all star gam but it was from the 2001 Baltimore team.

If Hill/ Adams come up and hit .260/.330/.363 for their career I would not be real pumped.

Look at this fella:
2002 .276/.330/.468
2003 .261/.316/.395

He is our own Chris Woodward. The general sentiment around here has been less than ecstasy abount his play. (Granted some of that is his defence).

I would have been happier had the Jays taken a power pitcher in their slot. Hopefully they will this year.
_Josh Boyd - Wednesday, December 17 2003 @ 05:47 PM EST (#79592) #
I do note that the Jays did take two high school pitchers fairly early in 2002 (Brian Grant 7th round, Russel Savickas 9th round).

I'd like to point out that, while I wasn't in the war room, Chris Buckley and Tim Wilken still had some control of the draft at that time in 2002, where last year's draft was J.P./Keith dominated.
Mike Green - Wednesday, December 17 2003 @ 05:54 PM EST (#79593) #
Thank you Josh for the interview, and for the follow-up comment. Come back, anytime.
_Josh Boyd - Wednesday, December 17 2003 @ 06:00 PM EST (#79594) #
Thank you guys for considering me for this interview. Jordan did a really nice job with the article and probably made me sound too good, but I really appreciate it and enjoy your site. It seems like you have some very insightful readers here.
_Jabonoso - Wednesday, December 17 2003 @ 06:28 PM EST (#79595) #
Any commentary off the text about Alvarez and Sequea fielding abilities?
_ainge_fan - Wednesday, December 17 2003 @ 07:34 PM EST (#79596) #
Jabonoso - indeed Bush's control is somewhat better, as you point out; over their respective stays at AA Bush walked about one less batter per nine albeit in fewer innings, and everything else is pretty close. I was talking more about profiles - drafted near the same spot, similar college careers (closed in college), both performed very well at AA at least at about the same age, analysts project as mid-back end starters but potential bullpen studs. I'd not be surprised to see the bullpen trio you project (power!), but I'm even more excited by a quartet that includes Vince Perkins... maybe '06?
Jonny German - I think you got the wrong impression from what I posted: I'm not slamming Arnold, and I'm not slamming Bush. Just pointing out there are alot of similarities in their profiles and how they've been described at various points in their respective developments. And for every Tim Hudson (or equivalently encouraging) minor league stat comp that fits a player who's enjoyed ML success, there will be several more matches of stat/age comps for players who had less or none.
re. Draft Strategy - I don't think the Jays have neglected picking high schoolers over the past two years, they just have: a) been selective, b)played the odds/managed risk, and c) haven't gone overboard signing them. In '02 there was Savickas and Grant, but also a reported full-court press by JP to sign Randall Braun. Of course, in '03 exactly zero drafted high schoolers were signed. The signings of Edward Rodriguez (DR) and Chi-Hung Cheng are evidence that the Jays won't be afraid of high schoolers, but will still be selective. Now that the system is in better balance, we will likely see more selective risks, along with a more balanced draft this year.
_Jabonoso - Wednesday, December 17 2003 @ 08:39 PM EST (#79597) #
ainge_fan: What happened to Randall Braun? just missed his whereabouts all together.
_Will aka Reagan - Wednesday, December 17 2003 @ 09:47 PM EST (#79598) #
I'm wondering if there really is a difference between the college and high school talent pools at all except for size (i.e., of the pools themselves) and for age. Meaning, there are more high schoolers, so the rare event--finding a star amongst them--may happen more so than with college players (in terms of totals and not rates). Also, meaning that because the high schoolers are young and have not played the two to four additional years, we can ascribe to many of them high ceilings in the abscence of evidence to the contrary.


Of course, Josh is correct here: ignoring huge segments of the talent pool is silly. I remember here Henry Rollins talking about the rumours that he was gay or bisexual, and him saying that he would love to be bisexual: imagine walking into a room and potentially digging anyone. Awesome!
_ainge_fan - Wednesday, December 17 2003 @ 09:55 PM EST (#79599) #
Its understandable that you missed Braun, he hasn't done much to get himself noticed. Two (very) non-descript years- 181/222/257 last year in 40 games *repeating* rookie ball. Ugghh.
_Rich - Wednesday, December 17 2003 @ 10:21 PM EST (#79600) #
there are more high schoolers, so the rare event--finding a star amongst them--may happen more so than with college players

I wondered that too, and recently found some now misplaced links on the web that actually showed the opposite.

This BP article discusses a related topic, but also concludes that at least for pitchers, collegians are a better bet to succeed in the majors.

I also remember one reporter discussing it with JP and suggesting the numbers supported drafting high schoolers. JP's response, if I'm not mistaken, was that the Jays had related stats that "blew those numbers away", but that he wasn't about to reveal them.
_steve - Wednesday, December 17 2003 @ 11:39 PM EST (#79601) #
from spencer's article on simon pond

Alexis Rios, one of Toronto's top prospects, is tied with Pond in homers, second in batting average (.345) and first in slugging percentage (.718).


Pond pops up several times on the league's leaderboard. He's batting .292, and he's tied for first in home runs (10) and second in RBIs (28).

also very good
Craig B - Wednesday, December 17 2003 @ 11:40 PM EST (#79602) #
If Hill/ Adams come up and hit .260/.330/.363 for their career I would not be real pumped.

I would if that career lasted 1700 games and they could pick it like Mike Bordick. I'd be ecstatic. Only half of the 10-20 picks in the MLB draft make the majors for anything more than coffee, as I demonstrated above.

It's not uncommon for fans to have very little comprehension of how long the odds are against prospects. A typical draftee will not only not make the big leagues, a typical draftee will not make it out of A ball. What's more, only three to five players, or seven to ten percent of a draft class, make the majors for more than a hello-goodbye (I'm talking 50 major league games, 20 for pitchers). Half the time, the first-round pick is not one of those guys.

Why don't we baseball fans get this? Why is every prospect hyped as the next so-and-so? Part of this probably stems from the other major professional sports, whose miniscule or nonexistent farm systems lead to the impression that minor leaguers are a single step away from the majors. At any rate, I think there is a general impression (even among quite hardcore followers) that all young players are better than they really are, and are likely to do more than they really are.
_Rich - Thursday, December 18 2003 @ 09:06 AM EST (#79603) #
A typical draftee will not only not make the big leagues, a typical draftee will not make it out of A ball.

Not to state the obvious, but this is one of the main reasons the Jays draft college players.
Gerry - Thursday, December 18 2003 @ 09:44 AM EST (#79604) #
Baseball America analyzed the success rates of college versus high school players back in the spring. The series is available to subscribers at the Baseball America website. Moneyball was published in the spring and leading up to the draft there was a lot of discussion about college versus high school players taken in the draft. The major conclusions of the report have been widely reported so I will repeat them here.

Of their study group (first 10 rounds of the draft) 8.8% of College players became major league regulars, compared to 8.4% of high schoolers. This difference is not statistically significant.

A lot more college players made it to the majors but were only part timers. High schools won the race for above-average players. They came out ahead in terms of good regulars (3.2 percent vs. 1.5 percent) and stars (1.1 percent vs. 0.9 percent).

Other factors:

College players are cheaper to sign, they have fewer other options. High schoolers can generally go to college

High school pitchers taken early in the draft are a poor choice

So the Blue Jays are not wrong by drafting college players. They are taking the cheaper, safer route. I believe the Jays will focus on college players for one more draft, and then turn to a mix. Just don't expect to see many high schoolers taken early in the draft unless the Jays have contract terms in place before the draft.
_sef - Thursday, December 18 2003 @ 11:05 AM EST (#79605) #
Craig B., by most accounts, neither Hill nor Adams can "pick it like Mike Bordick", rendering that a bit of a moot point ;)

"Mike Bordick played 1720 games in the major leagues, Mike Bordick was an All-Star, Mike Bordick was an everyday starting shortstop on an NL champion and two other playoff teams." (from an earlier Craig B. post)

So he gets points for durability...the rest of that sentence is essentially meaningless, AS voting being the sham that it is (and hey, Alex Gonzalez was the everyday shortstop on last year's world champs..)

yeah, Bordick has put together a tidy little career, but given how often teams get a chance to draft young 'uns, I don't see why it doesn't make sense to take a chance on one of the better high school hitters in the first round. As you demonstrated, "only half of the 10-20 picks in the MLB draft make the majors for anything more than coffee"..a 50% success rate? I'll take that.

oh, and if Adams gets the chance to play 1700 games while hitting .260/.330/.363, I'll be stunned.
_R Billie - Thursday, December 18 2003 @ 02:26 PM EST (#79606) #
We've gone over the college/high school debate quite often. I expect the Jays will mix in more prep picks as their college picks (particularly the pitchers) start making the upper minors.

I don't think they'll ever put a tremendous amount of money into 18 year old pitchers except on the international market as we've seen with Rodriguez and Cheng the past two years. In fact, by focusing on affordable college talent in the draft they can probably afford to spend a bit more than they normally would internationally. I expect they'll start being a lot more liberal with choosing high school hitters after maybe another year or two of saturating the system with college players.

I don't think there's any specific advantage to picking high school pitchers pitchers seem to yield just as highly as far as productivity with the rare prep pitcher managing to hit their high ceiling (Halladay and Beckett). I do think there are definate advantages to drafting high school hitters if you have scouts who are very good at projecting future ability. Tim Wilken seemed to be excellent in that respect and as much as I respect the A's ability to put together pitching it's been a long while since they produced an impact hitter, though Crosby may change that.

In baseball terms, it doesn't matter if you have a balanced 25-man unit of above average but unspectacular players or whether you have two or three excellent superstars supported by a rag-tag cast. Individuals can carry a greater portion of the load but the team that is solid at every position will have the advantage over a team with obvious weaknesses.

And the focus on college talent does cut off much of the talent but it allows the Jays to spend nearly twice as much time examining that pool of talent. Knowing every player more in depth is just as valuable if not more so than knowing a greater breadth of players but less in depth. There weren't a lot of late round gems for the Jays from 2002 but 2003 is looking more promising in that respect.
_Jordan - Thursday, December 18 2003 @ 05:10 PM EST (#79607) #
Any commentary off the text about Alvarez and Sequea fielding abilities?

Just saw this now ... no, we didn't get around to covering that, unfortunately. I'm not sure if Josh would have seen either of these guys in person anyway, which is pretty much the only way to get the measure of a prospect defensively. I don't think either of them is considered a slick glove man, necessarily. FWIW, Alvarez played the great majority of his games at shortstop, Sequea at second base, though each also spent time at each other's position. From this, one might conclude that Alvarez likely has the better arm and perhaps more range. Spring training will no doubt give us a better idea.
_Jabonoso - Thursday, December 18 2003 @ 05:51 PM EST (#79608) #
Is there a way to send a mail to ( say ) Malave to clarify items of this sort ? I wonder if the Jays have a e-PR to handle or re-direct stuff like that...
Gerry - Thursday, February 05 2004 @ 04:38 PM EST (#79609) #
We got him to talk just in time!

Baseball America national writer Josh Boyd will now be getting even further inside the game.

Boyd, better known as BA's prospect maven, accepted a job as an area scout with the Padres. He'll be responsible for scouting amateur players in Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.

Boyd, a lifelong Yankees fan, came to BA in April 2001. It seems appropriate that his first issue featured Drew Henson on the cover right after he had given up football to become the Yankees' third baseman of the future. He leaves after Henson finally gave up on baseball.

"We have mixed emotions about Josh leaving," Baseball America managing editor Will Lingo said. "We're sad we won't have his fellowship and knowledge in the office any longer, but it's a great opportunity for him to continue his professional growth and for us to keep improving our coverage."
_Roger Davis - Thursday, February 05 2004 @ 11:20 PM EST (#79610) #
The interesting thing now is - Basball America has to get a new Blue Jays "expert" which one of us is gonna apply?

Seriously, BA's new guy will have to get up to speed. In doing so he may talk to different scouts etc. It'll be interesting to see the new guy's slant on our existing players. Hope he doesn't just parrot Boyd.

On the HS vs University drafts; I think the pitchers JP has found at the U level are looking VERY good. Even down 10 to 15 rounds. JP keep it up.
_Roger Davis - Thursday, February 05 2004 @ 11:21 PM EST (#79611) #
The interesting thing now is - Basball America has to get a new Blue Jays "expert" which one of us is gonna apply?

Seriously, BA's new guy will have to get up to speed. In doing so he may talk to different scouts etc. It'll be interesting to see the new guy's slant on our existing players. Hope he doesn't just parrot Boyd.

On the HS vs University drafts; I think the pitchers JP has found at the U level are looking VERY good. Even down 10 to 15 rounds. JP keep it up.
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