He is regarded as one of the more interesting and important voices on the development side of baseball, both for the quality of his information, based on a large network of major league front office personnel and scouts, and for his ability to recognize hidden talents and puncture player hype machines.
His work also appears on ESPN.com and he was gracious enough to take some time to give his opinions of the Padres’ 2010 draft.
First, what was your overall impression of the Padres’ draft?
Kevin Goldstein: It’s not the most exciting draft in the world, but I was a little surprised with them taking Karsten Whitson at nine. Jedd Gyorko is the classic boring college player that they would have taken in the past but I did like some of the later round selections.
Jason McLeod had a reputation for being a pretty creative guy when he was with the Red Sox; particularly in the drafting of Casey Kelly and some of his late round selections. Did you see any of the picks in this draft that fit that mode?
Kevin Goldstein: There are a lot of guys that fit that mode, from maybe the sixth round on it looks like a Red Sox draft but then the big question is are the Padres going to devote the resources necessary to sign those guys? Players like A.J. Vanegas and Jose Dore are better players than where they were drafted but they are not the type of players that you would think would be in the first round if not for signability issues.
Lets go over some of the picks. You were kind of on the fence if the Padres would go with a high school arm with upside or a college bat. What do you think swayed the team to Whitson in the end?
Kevin Goldstein: I think they just liked him better in the end. You have to give McLeod’s team quite a bit of credit in that they looked at players from every corner of the draft map and were really much more open than in the past where they only were interested in a type of player that fit a certain ideology.
With the selection of Whitson many Padres’ fans will think back to last year’s first round choice of Donavan Tate. How is Whitson different from Tate?
Kevin Goldstein: One, I think Whitson is going to spend the majority of 2011 in Fort Wayne, maybe not in April, but the majority of the year since it is a much better place to pitch than to hit.
Whitson is a good pitcher now, lots of projectability, good velocity, about 6-foot-3 to 6-foot-4, and we have seen players like this in the draft every year. There are about three to four of them, big right-handed high school pitchers. We kind of have an idea of what he may or may not do.
Donavan Tate, while much more raw baseball skills wise, is not the type of athlete that we see in the draft on a yearly basis. All of us knew it will be awhile for his baseball skills to catch up to his athleticism, but if they do, it could be really special.
Jedd Gyorko was the type of pick most people associate with the team, polished college bat but not that clear of a defensive position. Where do you think he will end up and what did you think of him?
Kevin Goldstein: I do think he can hit, but he’s just not my kind of player mainly because I am more of a tools guy. He’s not a shortstop, and if you talk to many scouts, some will tell you he can play second; others think he can play third. The problem is no one is really sure if he has the defensive ability to stick there, and then you start talking about putting him in the outfield and does he have enough of a bat to be a corner outfielder?
What can you tell us about Zach Cates out of Northeast Texas CC?
Kevin Goldstein: He’s a lot like Whitson, maybe even has a little more velocity right now. He’s a big right-hander that can take it up to 95 or 96 but his secondary pitches need work. It’s a nice pick, a young guy with a lot of upside.
Two pitchers that struck me as the type of players that I expected McLeod to draft were John Barbato and A.J. Vanegas, who are expected to be tough high school signs? Which one is more likely to sign and why?
Kevin Goldstein: Probably Barbato because in the past guys with Stanford commitments are always tough signs. Again, these guys are probably better than where they are picked, but I don’t see them being worth first or second round money.
What late round picks caught your attention?
Kevin Goldstein: I like Houston Slemp. I know he’s from a tiny school in Oklahoma, but to me this is a pure tools pick; above-average speed, raw power but his swing has some holes. He’s a 10th-round pick for a reason, none of them are monster tools, but he’s better than average in a lot of areas.
I like B.J. Guinn, the shortstop from Cal. He’s a very good defensive player, the only question is will he be able to hit.
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