Miss the first part of the interview? Check it out here
With the draft so close, how much will a good/bad showing in the College World Series change a players draft status?
Kiley McDaniel: As of right now a players’ draft status is pretty static. As I mentioned earlier, it is the pro scouts that normally view a conference tournament/College World Series. So even if someone like Appel has a bad outing, the team will defer to the scouts that have seen him pitch twelve times instead of the pro scout who just saw him get hit hard in the tournament.
What does happen on occasion is that if there is a player who has been trending downward a team might send one of their best pro scouts to look at him. If he still struggles the pro scout will report it and the team might move him down a couple of places on their board.
Usually the only reason scouts are there is to see those players that are trending up or down, and to see how players have recovered from injury. The team is more concerned with velocity and how well a player has recovered from injury then if they go 0-5 or give up three home runs.
For the most part amateur scouts have seen these players all year. So one good or bad outing, especially when the amateur scouts are not there, will not change a players draft stock much.
How do you come up with your Top 100 draft list? How much do you gauge ceiling verse potential?
Kiley McDaniel: I would say it is a combination of everything. I take into account projection, ability, makeup, probability of getting to the big leagues.
Like any prospect list you are trying to encapsulate every piece of information and kind of reflect street value. If these guys were all available, and all cost the same amount which one would you pick?
Usually we look at all aspects of the game, especially for the first few rounds. We try not to look at one particular aspect but try to look at everything. Obviously no list is perfect, and it is impossible to hear constant updates about every single batter that could make the list, but we do the best we can to make the list.
In making your rankings do you gauge a player’s maturity? By that I mean the Padres’ were burned by both Donavan Tate and Matt Bush who might have had the ceiling of high first round picks, but ended up as busts because of the mental part of the game?
Kiley McDaniel: I think part of it is hindsight being 20/20. Obviously the Padres’ would redraft their pick if they could and because they were first round picks it was given more media attention then other picks. In both cases, I think part of it was due to injury, and the players not knowing what to do with free time and making poor decisions.
While we would like to say that the mental part of it effects the rankings, some of the guys are just so talented that the mental part of the game does not matter. We hear a lot of things about a lot of players, but as a writer it is not something we necessarily put into our rankings unless it is a common or already known thing.
For example last year there was a player who ended up getting over a million dollars. I talked to a scout that I head a whisper that there was an issue with the players makeup. The scout told me “I wont tell you what it is, and it needs to be off the record, but the player has a lot of issues. He does not come from a good family, he gets really emotional at times, and I would be very skeptical about giving him a lot of money.”
Based on his ability he was still a top couple rounds player, but I knocked him down a bit in my rankings, even though I did not give the reasoning for it since it was off the record.
A team still gave him a million dollars, so clearly they were not too concerned with his mental makeup. Who knows, he still could end up being a productive major league player, but all it takes is one team.
The mental side of it doesn’t really affect the top 100 outside of a couple of spots up or down. Usually there is enough talent on them that you cant knock them down out of the Top 100. There are a few players that are fringe Top 100 guys, that we hear they have a negative attitude, or have some mental instability (anger), that I do not put on the list for that matter. But these players are fringe guys anyway.
How much do you use sabermetric stats like WAR and VORP in your rankings?
Kiley McDaniel: I try to put a number to players. In scouting we will sometimes use a thing called OFP, or Organized Future Potential. It is based on a 28 scale, and we will give a player different numbers based on different attributes. It allows us to knock them a point or so based on attitude. It is also a way to make rankings more apples to apples, since we are trying to compare a 17 year old hitter verse a 21 year old pitcher.
This is also when we get the 60 scale. I can look at a high school guy and say he is currently a 45 guy but could develop into a 60. Then compare that to a college player and say he might only have the potential of a 55 guy, but he is currently at 50 and has a much higher chance of reaching his potential.
The entire scale though is based on objective things. You can have two really good scouts look at the same player and come away with two different scores for him.
Usually a scout will talk about Player X, his score, that he struggles in this situation, and here is the chance that he can learn how to fix it. The one tweak is usually from the projected future WAR or OFP.
I guess in amateur rankings it is similar to WAR with an adjustment for risk. I am sure there is a guy in the fourth round that has the OFP to be a future all star but the percent chance of that happening is so low that he falls. He would be ranked lower because his projected WAR and probability tell two different stories. It is how we can have later round guys become all stars. It is usually not because they thought all the players drafted ahead of him were better, but because the probability of it was so low he was passed over.
You are big sabermetrics guy. How much sabermetrics is used in amateur scouting?
Kiley McDaniel: It all depends on the player. The closer to the majors the more accurate sabermetrics can be.
Usually any high school hitter that will go remotely high, is hitting over .400 with six or seven homeruns. Most of the evaluation will be about how good the competition is. A good high school prospect can have his average grossly inflated because he was against a kid who was only pitching because his high school team needed players.
Since it is so subjective, the amount of sabermetrics is close to zero.
Now when we get to colleges, especially the bigger D-1 schools, you can look at strikeout to walk ratio, and amount of swings and misses, and use it as an evaluation tool. I was just talking to a scout about a player for next years draft who is 6’3” 180 lb, with a lot of strikeouts, and make the determination that he has long arms, big swing, and could have a big hole in his swing.
Often we use BB/K ratio as one of the best sabermetrics stats, but when you are the best player on a team that walk ratio can easily be skewed as most teams are going to be pitching around you. That can be used to tell us about how he will translate to the upper minors or majors. Essentially though, we use very little sabermetrics in determining a players value.
The closer you get to the majors the more accurate it gets. Even in the minors we incorporate age. A twenty year old in AA might not have the results that anyone had hoped. But his contact rate was solid, and his walk rate improved as the year went on. That tells us that because of the age and how close he is to the majors that the numbers can improve and that a player who might only be hitting .220 in AA can still be starter in the majors.
Rookie Ball you can't, Low A you kind of can't, really you can only use sabermetrics in AA and AAA. Once there you can have a scout tell you “he is a tall lengthy centerfielder, with everyday tools,” and then use the stats to project with about 90% certainty what his value will be.
In regards to your current mock draft, you have mainly high school bats going in the first round. Does that say how strong the high school bats are in the draft class or how weak the other parts of the draft are?
Kiley McDaniel: This year’s draft class is considered weaker then the past few, mainly because there is not a marquee name at the top of the draft. Usually there is a player like an Evan Longoria or Stephen Strasburg that people look at to gauge how strong the draft is.
If there doesn’t look like there is a perennial all star the draft gets described as “weak,” even though it might be filled with #2 type starters which most teams would take in a heartbeat.
Personally the draft is defined by the top 20-25 guys in the draft then after that is pretty much the same year in and year out. If you think about it we are talking about thousands of players every year. From year to year how different do you really expect the overall draft to be? Really the difference between a strong draft and a weak draft is just defined by the top few picks.
In a good year a guy that would normally go 15-25 get drafted 30-40. In a bad year that same player could go top 5 or 10. After that though, the draft is all the same.
In regards to the Padres where do you see them going in the first round?
Kiley McDaniel: I know they are really interested in Phil Bickford who is a high school righty out of LA. He was a second or third round pick entering this year, but has shot up boards. He is a 6’4” guy who hit 97 on the gun, good curveball, and really good command. There is a lot of projectability with his frame that has a lot of teams excited. His changeup still needs some work, but he is definitely a first round pick now. He could go as high as 12 or 13 and as low as 25.
They also really high on J.P. Crawford, Dominic Smith, and Reese McGuire who they have had their top scouts at nearly every game. There have been a few other players that were viewed as top 10 picks entering the year but have fallen abit to mid-late first round talent, but a team like the Padres might gamble on if they still think the projection is there.
A friend of mine pointed out that the Padres are one of the hardest teams to gauge interest on. They could go high school bat which is what everyone expects them to, or they could go college pitcher. They really like to mix things up. They have been the Gary Busey of scouting, you never really know what they are going to do.
At this point the first round is pretty much in focus, and I expect the Padres to go high school bat. However after the first seven or so picks you see a team be really high on a player that most teams think is more of a #20 pick be selected 10/11/12, because one team really like his projectability. I would say right around the time the Padres draft is when it becomes a mess and the Padres could very easily decide to draft a guy like Bickford that most teams think would be closer to 20, but a team like the Padres are very high on. The closer we get to the draft the better chance that I hear that a team will reach for a guy and I will change my draft accordingly.