Halos Heaven Interviews Andy Seiler

Andy Seiler runs www.mlbbonusbaby.com, where he provides news and analysis on drafting strategy, draft-eligible amateur players, and rumors that connect players to teams. On Thursday, Andy published his preview of the Angels' upcoming 2010 draft. To follow up, he agreed to answer some questions for Halos Heaven...

HaloFanDC - What is your overall opinion of the depth of the [2010] draft since the team has so many picks in the first three rounds? Will we see something similar to last year where a fair number of the draft picks instantly became top prospects in our system?

Seiler -- With so many early picks, it's almost automatic that your system's top tier will be filled with 2010 draftees. That's simply because draft picks look better before their flaws are picked apart by other pro players. The 2010 class itself is about average or slightly below-average in terms of overall talent. Pitching is above-average, hitting is below-average, especially college hitting. Finding a good college hitter will be hard, though I don't think the Angels worry themselves about that too much. Pitching is the place to go this year in the early part of the draft, and there's plenty of depth there.

sothball - How do you now rate the Angels last 3 drafts at this date?...

Seiler -- I grade drafts differently than you'll see just about anyone else grade drafts. Baseball America goes in and re-grades previous drafts every year for their Prospect Handbook, but I generally give a grade and stick with it. It has less to do with how players turn out than how they run a draft. Did they achieve balance? Did they efficiently divide their monetary resources? Did they draft players that would have been gone before their next pick or could they have added another better player in the meantime? Those are the three main questions I ask when grading drafts, and it's all about execution. Area scouts need to be aware of signability and that information needs to be effectively communicated to the higher-level decision-makers. Players that become big successes are due more to the player development guys if they're later-round draft picks a lot of times, so giving a draft a grade of A because you found an Albert Pujols in the 11th round is pointless. Drafts are successful according to the quality and quantity of the players that enter, not how they turn out in the long run. That's not the scouting department's job. That being said, I give the 2007 draft a D, simply because they were picking guys that could have been saved for later in the draft, and they completely whiffed on the guy they were betting their draft on in Matt Harvey. 2008 gets a slight upgrade to a C, because the Chatwood pick was much better than Bachanov, and Chaffee and Boshers both offered fair upside. Still, missing on Cone and Cooper was big. I saw Cone in person this weekend, and they missed out on a possible first-rounder for 2011. However, the 2009 draft was simply excellent. I give them an A-, simply because it's hard to say any draft gets a pure A. They were balanced, got good players, and they spread their money around well.

RGhan -- Almost nine months out, how does the Jacob Locker gamble look? Any change, for the better or worse?

Seiler -- To be honest, I won't be following it either way until Locker comes out and publicly says he's a baseball player. It was only a $200K investment that has good upside, and I like the gamble. There's no change in that status as of now, and that shouldn't change for a couple of years, at which point Locker will hold the keys to whether he wants to continue his football career.

HaloFanDC -- Is it the weakness of the Halo's farm system or Bane's skill as a scouting director that a high number our of top prospects are later round picks (Bourjous, Reckling, etc...)?

Seiler -- Part of both and it's also a function of your player development department. Finding quality players below the top of the draft happens in part with every team, but most teams still have the first-round picks that fill in the top of their prospect rankings. The Angels, as evidenced by my draft preview, haven't had the luxury of picking very high, or even in the first round at all, with any sort of frequency. It's a good thing when your Major League team succeeds and you have to get a back-end draft slot, but when you're also giving away picks for free agents for multiple years, that becomes a problem. You'll see the rankings shift more as the Angels build from within a little more and spend a little less on Type A free agents, instead reaping the benefits on the opposite side of the compensation system. It's all about where you pick at the top, and if you don't even own a first round pick, then more of your top prospects will be from lower rounds than expected. That doesn't put down the skills of a Bourjos or Reckling. It's just a fact of prospecting.

RGhan -- I'm assuming that the Halos follow last year's strategy and go for a high ceiling bat with their first pick, due to their ability to snag multiple arms in the lower first and supplemental rounds.  How safe do you think that assumption is?

Seiler -- That's a fairly safe assumption, and that's been their history when they have first round picks. They love to fill up with arms in the supplemental first round and the second round, and I'd expect more of that in 2010.

HaloFanDC -- Do you think the team is going to be willing to go overslot in this draft with so many picks near the top?

Selier -- In short, no. You may see another Tyler Skaggs type of over slot deal, one that's just over, but not in any sort of meaningful way. That's not to call the Angels cheap. It's only to say that they trend significantly towards slot bonuses, and since they own so many picks, that won't be changing unless their entire front office strategy has changed, which almost certainly hasn't after years of winning. Over slot bonuses don't make good players, but they help you get more of them.

RGhan -- Given the volatility of prep rankings - these are 17 to 18 year olds, after all - how much churn do you expect in the names that could possibly go 18th in the draft? 

Seiler -- A lot. I wouldn't have told you that Randal Grichuk had a 1% shot for his slot at this time last year. Probably would have said he had a 10% shot a week before the draft. Things change, especially for a club like the Angels, who tend to love to work out players after their seasons are over. Grichuk wouldn't be an Angel if not for an outstanding workout for them. Those sort of things are unpredictable and hush-hush, and all I can tell you is to ignore media reports about what team loves what player at this juncture of the draft season.

HaloFanDC -- What are the pro's and con's of the Halo's strategy of taking from the JC ranks so frequently?

Seiler -- You can ask this question about the Braves, too, as they are the other team that draft heavily from the JuCo ranks. The pros are that you're getting a more projectable product than a typical four-year collegiate prospect, while you're also getting the signability of a collegiate prospect. The price of high school players has gone up by a large amount over the last decade, while signing bonuses for junior college players has stayed stagnant. You essentially get more bang for your buck. The drawback is that you're getting a less-polished version of a four-year college player, and JuCo players don't face the same sort of intense competition that college players face. In addition, there are some worries about the aptitude of some JuCo players who couldn't make it in the four-year college ranks academically. That's a real problem, because even though a lot of teams don't want a player that's too smart to succeed, they also don't want one that's not smart enough. That sort of thing happens, and it's up to the scouts to see why this particular kid has landed in junior college instead of in major college ball.

RGhan -- Which players have the best left-handed power bats in the draft? Any chance that Zach Cox or Josh Sale or Levon Washington fall as far as the 18th pick due to signability issues? Who are some prep sleepers who could creep up to 18th?

Seiler -- Cox and Sale are definitely the two big left-handed power bats behind Bryce Harper in this draft. There aren't many guys in any draft class that can match their pop from the left side, though both come with athleticism or defensive questions. Washington doesn't profile for anything above below-average power, though he may run into 10 or 15 homers in his prime years. Sale and Cox stand good chances to make it to 18 on pure talent or preference for the teams ahead of them, though Washington is less likely to fall. It all depends on if his arm continues to heal. Some of the sleepers for that #18 slot are Chevez Clarke, who is only about 30 minutes from me, and possibly Brian Ragira, a powerful outfielder from Texas.

RGhan -- Stefen Sabol (catcher, outfielder, right handed bat).  Anything linking the Halos to him yet? I gotta pull for an Aliso Niguel HS guy (go Wolverines!)...

Seiler -- Nothing solid yet. It's hard to really pin anything on any team yet, other than paying attention to which teams are sending the high-level brass to which games.

RGhan -- Kaleb Cowart (switch hitting prep third baseman, right handed power pitcher).  How would he fit with the Halos for the 18th pick? 

Seiler -- Depends on what they're looking for. He doesn't fit into their traditional athletic prep hitter mold, and he might not fit into their pitching program either, depending on how they view him. I don't see a very good fit on the pitching side, and I don't really see much of a fit at all in terms of drafting him as a hitter.

HaloFanDC -- What is it that the Angels, as an organization, whether it's speed/defense/tools/skills/etc... see in OF's that have led them to run counter to general opinion and draft players ahead of where they project to go (e.g. Fuller, Pippin)

Seiler -- It could be a number of factors. The most likely thing is that they've developed a very comfortable development system for those outfielders with those particular tools. Once you've hit on a particular development track, you stick to it. Just ask the Braves from the 1990s and the Rays and their pitchers now. Another factor could be the familiarity of outfielders with the Angels' scouts. Angel scouts have developed an affinity for those players themselves and that goes above and beyond what other scouts believe.

Rev Halofan -- What happened to Donny Rowland - who is he working for and what have his drafts been like since he left the Angels?

Seiler -- Rowland landed in Kansas City after leaving the Angels, and he was a senior member of Allard Baird's staff before Baird was fired. Rowland left there at the same time. He was the Senior Director of Player Personnel there, meaning he didn't run their drafts, but he was a pivotal decision-maker. I don't think it really fit his strengths, and apparently he thought so too. He ended up back with the Yankees after Dayton Moore cleaned house in Kansas City as a National Crosschecker. He's moved more onto the international side of scouting, becoming the go-to crosschecker for the Yankees' international operations. I'm not sure it's official, but he was supposed to be named the Yankees' International Scouting Director. I don't know if that's actually become official since then, but he's definitely landed on his feet back with New York.

sothball -- What type of players do you believe the Angels should draft this year?

Seiler -- That's tough to say, simply because the Angels' front office knows their system better than anyone. They know the type of player that fits well into their player development structure better than I do, so it's tough to say what type of player should be an Angel. That being said, since they have so many picks, I am definitely a balance guy. That means that I like to see balance in two areas: balance between drafting hitters and pitchers and balance between the experience levels of the players you're drafting. If you're going to take the risky, high-upside prep arms, you need to balance that with a college arm here and there. If you want to have a successful system, you also can't go into a draft and pick 12 hitters and 3 pitchers in the first 15 picks. That's more about playing into your organizational need or a skewed "best player available" philosophy than truly playing the odds of the draft well. The Angels should shoot for a solid mix in their early picks, and I think they achieved that pretty well last year. Draft a couple high-upside prep bats and a prep arm or two, and then balance that with a couple college arms or college bats. Hedge your risk.

Andy is expanding his coverage of draft-eligible amateur players significantly with the 2010 MLB Draft Notebook, which will review the 750 players most likely to go in the first 25 rounds.  You can check it out here.

Thanks Andy!

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