Athletics 2002 Draft Overview
By Allan Simpson
Scouting Director: Eric Kubota (first year: 2002).
2000 Draft (First three rounds, picking 20th)
2001 Draft (First three rounds, picking 25th)
In consecutive drafts from 1997-99, Oakland selected righthander Tim Hudson and lefthanders Mark Mulder and Barry Zito--the best young starting trio in the game. Mulder and Zito were first-round picks; Hudson a sixth-rounder. Before those three drafts, the A's took third baseman Eric Chavez in the first round in 1996.
The architect of those drafts was scouting director Grady Fuson, who moved on in the offseason to take a similar position with the Rangers--with a substantial increase in salary. Fuson's formula for success emphasized college players over high school players, a feel for pitching over raw arm strength, and power hitters capable of working pitch counts.
Though he selected middle infielders with his first pick in each of the last two years, Fuson rarely deviated from his philosophy. And even without him, the A's are unlikely to deviate from that tried-and-true approach, especially after hiring one of Fuson's lieutenants, Eric Kubota, to replace him. Kubota has been with the organization for 18 years and once served as an assistant to Fuson, and he was the club's director of international scouting for the last three years.
Kubota is under the gun right away, as the free-agent defections of Johnny Damon, Jason Giambi and Jason Isringhausen has resulted in a rare windfall for the A's. The club will have seven of the first 39 picks this year, including Nos. 16, 24 and 30 in the first round, and Nos. 35, 37 and 39 in the supplemental first round, in addition to their own pick at No. 26.
Oakland was willing to part with four top prospects in a spring training trade with the Rangers to acquire first baseman Carlos Pena, knowing it would be able to recoup that loss in talent with the extra picks it would have in the draft.
It's unlikely the A's will go after the best available player with most of their selections, as that could mean spending around $10 million if they paid market value for seven premium picks. They will probably end up drafting at least two or three college seniors, who have limited bargaining power and generally sign for significantly lower bonuses than players drafted around them.
The most likely seniors to appeal to the A's are David Bush, Lance Cormier, Kevin Correia, Ben Crockett, Lee Gwaltney and Trevor Hutchinson--all righthanders who have good command and should advance quickly. That would fit the organization's philosophy perfectly.
High school players are likely to dominate the first round of this year's draft, but the A's will probably steer clear as they've signed just seven prep players in the last three years.
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