Clearly, the overall success of this draft begins with those three high school arms. What did you think of the approach the Padres took in going so heavily in that direction?
Frankie Pilliere: I think it sounds like hyperbole a little bit, but I really can’t see how they could have done better getting those three arms. Especially as low as they got Weickel. I never would have imagined that a team could pull off getting those three guys. I would have figured that they’d all be off the board in the top 25 and that the same team wouldn’t be getting them. All their best-case scenarios are front-line starting pitchers. Obviously it never seems to work out that way. But that’s all you can ask for, and by odds, one of those guys at least is going to hit their ceiling and be a an outstanding big league starter.
If you had been sitting in that war room and Mark Appel slipped to you, would you have taken the chance on a guy you probably hadn’t vetted as much?
Frankie Pilliere: I don’t think it was a scenario teams in that range were really considering. I think it would be unfair for anyone to say “oh, they should take that guy.” They don’t want to waste that pick obviously with the new rules that are out there. I don’t blame the Pirates for trying at eight, but you have to decide as an organization whether you want to take that gamble. If I’m in that seat, I wouldn’t do it because I like Fried and I know I can get him signed and I don’t know how much I want to take that gamble. Clearly the Padres had a plan going in and they thought they had a shot at Weickel and that excellent group up top. Getting a guy like Appel, they probably would have had to revamp that entire plan.
What do you make of Jankowski as the first position guy off the board?
Frankie Pilliere: I got to see him probably as much as anyone out [in the Cape]. I put a lot of credence in guys who hit with wood and guys who hit up there. You see the numbers up there and guys don’t hit – but he did. If it was my board, I consistently was trying to rank him top 30, top 25. Obviously, consensus needs to be weighed in, so I had him a little lower. But he’s a guy I would be very comfortable with someone taking 20 to 30, so I think they got a good bargain where they got him. He’s a guy that you can be pretty sure that he’s going to hit. It’s just a matter of exactly what his profile is going to be, exactly what his power is going to be. Whenever you can get a guy that you feel very strongly that he’s going to swing the bat and he’s going to advance quickly, you’ve got to get him, and he’s a guy like that.
In some ways, that sounds like the descriptions we were hearing 12 months ago of Cory Spangenberg. Can you do a side-by-side on them offensively?
Frankie Pilliere: It’s funny, I just saw Spangenberg the other night in the all-star game and that’s an interesting comparison. I’ve seen Jankowski hit a little more consistently, a little bit more of a consistent line drive stroke. I think Spangenberg can get there and I’ve never considered the comparison, but Spangenberg I had my questions even though I liked him. Jankowski’s always been a guy. There are always certain players that you see you know never really let you down and Jankowski’s that type of guy. He’s always going to make something happen, even if it’s with his speed or something. His swing is very compact, he’s very relaxed at the plate. There’s not a lot of noise in the swing, there’s not a lot of extra movement and he’s very quick to the ball. I’m not sure that Spangenberg has been quite as consistent as that, so if there’s a difference, I’d say it’s probably the consistency.
Obviously Dane Phillips very much thinks he’s a catcher, but he’s had trouble getting other people to believe that? Do you?
Frankie Pilliere: I don’t. I really like his bat and I think he’s a 25 home run power type guy, but I don’t think he’s a catcher. I saw him play the position a lot and I think he’s got the right mentality for it and makeup you look for, but I just don’ think he can make it work. He’s a pretty good athlete. I think he could probably play a corner spot. I don’t think his bat is going to be dynamic enough to be a modern first baseman.
In this year of transition as everyone is trying to figure out how best to manage the cap and slot system, the Padres seem to have been aggressive deeper into the draft with guys who have at least one or two really good tools rather than purely going for signability guys. What do you think of the strategy they took?
Frankie Pilliere: You look at all the draft results, and it just looks different than other years. I’ve said the draft just got a lot harder for me to cover. If teams are going to be drafting these small college seniors, that’s kind of how it’s evolved. We’re going to have to see how it goes next year and see if everyone was just being overly cautious, or if this is how it’s going to go. If you look at the Padres, I think it’s one of the teams that still looks like what a draft class looked like last year or the year before. And signability hasn’t been a problem for them yet, so it shows you can still do it. You can still go out and get a lot of good players and still stay within the bounds of the rules, but it’s a lot more difficult. What it takes – and teams that pull it off deserve a lot of credit – it takes a lot more homework on the part of the scouting director and area scouts to know exactly what these guys are going to want so you can knock guys off your list and not get burned by not signing them or having to totally punt.
People don’t realize, scouting isn’t just about seeing the guy on the field. It’s seeing everything about him. I think the whole getting to know him thing just got a lot more important, because you better know exactly what sort of price tag. It’s not like in the past when you could just take a gamble.
The key unsigned high schooler at this point is Andrew Lockett. Have you gotten a chance to see him much and what is your thought on him?
Frankie Pilliere: I haven’t seen him as much, but as I gathered my preference list from the area guys beforehand, obviously you look at the frame and he’s projectable and the general feel is he’s going to add some velocity. He’s a pretty big kid already, he spins the breaking ball pretty well. That’s pretty much what you hear, that all the framework is there, and they think he’ll add the secondaries at the pro level.
When you look at pure tools, Brian Adams seems to be one to dream on.
Frankie Pilliere: Oh yeah. It sounds crazy when you think about it under the old framework that you could get a guy with those kind of tools with the speed and defensive ability. Getting somebody like that in the past for $75,000 would seem quite frankly, unrealistic. That’s the kind of thing in recapping the draft, if you can get a guy like that in the eighth round and get him signed, you’re doing a great job. This has to be as deep as I remember them doing.
What do you have on the high school kids they took beyond the first 10 rounds.
Frankie Pilliere: Malcom Diaz has a very good arm. I saw him up to 93 or 94. He’s a strong-armed kid that you have to polish up as a pro, but you look at him as a good deal. He’s probably going to be more of a long-term project. Those power arms are a little bit more rare, and if you’ve got a good fastball, that’s a good thing in that range.
Christian Munoz [in the 37th round] is a guy I liked a lot. Considering he’s not a huge guy, he showed a lot of raw power in batting practice with a compact swing. He’s got a good frame for the position. That’s a good pick.
Did you get any good looks at Ronnie Richardson?
Frankie Pilliere: I have. If you buy his listing - I think they had him listed last summer at 5’8”, so it got a little more realistic – he’s fairly athletic. I’m assuming he’s not a center fielder, I think he even played left when I saw him last summer. But I like the bat. He’s knows what he is. He’s not a guy who’s going to try to lift it very often, but he’s pretty strong and he can hit the ball out in batting practice pretty consistently. He swung the bat pretty well with wood. I would have assumed he would have gone sixth to eighth round, so that’s another good pick.