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Recent Cubs drafts earn top grades
by Jim Callis
CHICAGO—The John Stockstill Fan Club has only a few more members than the Steve Bartman Fan Club.
That’s because Bartman is still in hiding and Stockstill might as well be.
Most Cubs fans don’t know Stockstill is their club’s scouting director, but they should. In the draft grades we hand out in our annual Prospect Handbook, no team posted a higher grade-point average for its 2000-03 drafts than the Cubs at 3.63.
Stockstill was Chicago’s scouting coordinator in 2000, the worst draft pool in recent memory. The Cubs, like most clubs, whiffed on their first-round pick when they took Luis Montanez third overall. But they made up for it later, stealing Dontrelle Willis in the eighth round and uncovering Bobby Hill (second round), Todd Wellemeyer (fourth), Jon Leicester (11th) and Jason Dubois (14th).
After succeeding general manager Jim Hendry as scouting director in August 2000, Stockstill’s first draft began with the No. 2 pick. Mark Prior alone merited an A, and Chicago also drafted Andy Sisco (second), Brendan Harris (fifth) and Sergio Mitre (seventh).
The Cubs have seen all three of their supplemental first-round picks from 2001 (Luke Hagerty, Chadd Blasko, Matt Clanton) succumb to major arm injuries, but that has been mitigated by the development of first baseman Brian Dopirak (second) and righthander Billy Petrick (third). Righthander Bobby Brownlie (first) also has made steady progress, though his stuff isn’t as good as it was in college.
From 2000 forward, the Cubs get a B+, A, B+ and B+. Their drafts have left them with a more balanced farm system (weighing hitting talent and pitching talent) than they’ve had in years.
D’backs, Rays Also Draft Well
The Diamondbacks earned the No. 1 pick this June by losing 111 games in 2004, but on the bright side, the top choice is in good hands. Mike Rizzo’s first four drafts as Arizona scouting director earned a 3.50 GPA, tying the Devil Rays for second-best in the game.
Rizzo’s drafts (B, B+, B+, A from 2000 forward) already have sent Scott Hairston, Chris Snyder, Chad Tracy and Brandon Webb to the majors. Most of the Diamondbacks’ best prospects are recent draftees, led by outfielders Carlos Quentin, Conor Jackson (both 2003), Jon Zeringue (2004) and Josh Kroeger (2000) and shortstop Chris Snyder (2002).
Tampa Bay has made a habit of picking at the top of the draft and scoring with those choices. Rocco Baldelli (No. 6 overall in 2000), B.J. Upton (No. 2, 2002) and outfield prospect Delmon Young (No. 1, 2003) all look like future superstars. Dan Jennings’ 2000-02 drafts graded out as a B+, C+ and A, while Cam Bonifay’s 2003 rated an A as well.
The Braves, under Roy Clark, came in fourth with a 3.38 GPA. Atlanta had 12 first-round picks from 2000-03 (B+, B+, A, C+), which certainly helped, especially in 2002 when it used those choices to sign blue-chip outfield prospect Jeff Francoeur and lefthander Dan Meyer. But the Braves actually have enjoyed more success later in the draft, with deep sleepers such as Adam LaRoche (29th round, 2000) and mid-round pitching prospects, including Kyle Davies and Anthony Lerew.
The Athletics, Brewers and Nationals tied for fifth with 3.25 GPAs. Jack Zduriencik’s efforts in Milwaukee stand out the most because he didn’t have any extra first-rounders and didn’t exceed Major League Baseball’s bonus recommendations.
In case you’re wondering, the average GPA for all 30 clubs was 2.61. We can’t properly judge a draft until five years have elapsed, so we tend to give prospects the benefit of the doubt.
Yankees Bring Up The Rear
For all the money they spend on major league payroll the Yankees have been, oddly enough, fiscally conservative in the draft. And they’ve gotten what they’ve paid for, ranking last in baseball with a 1.00 GPA for their 2000-03 drafts.
There’s some hope for the 2003 crop, headlined by New York’s lone standout prospect (third baseman Eric Duncan) and rated a B. But 2000 (F), 2001 (D) and 2002 (F) already look like washouts, with Brad Halsey the highlight of those three thus far.
New York reassigned scouting director Lin Garrett after the 2004 draft, a common theme for the clubs with the worst draft grades. Many changed scouting directors in the last 18 months.
The Mariners (1.50), who have eschewed first-round picks in favor of free agents more than any club, moved Frank Mattox to farm director after Bill Bavasi became GM following the 2003 season. The Reds’ (1.63) position was in a constant state of flux even before new GM Dan O’Brien brought in his own man in Terry Reynolds after the 2003 season. The Tigers (1.75) reassigned Greg Smith in November.
For a complete list of 2000-03 draft GPAs, please visit www.baseballamerica.com/today/columnists/askba.html. You can contact Jim Callis by sending e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.