Extra Quotes For Prospects To Pennants




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In reporting the Prospects to Pennants package, I ended up with a lot more insights from front office executives than I could fit into the two main stories.

So consider this similar to the extended cut on a DVD. Here are some more insights into how successful farm systems turn into big league clubs, as well as explanations from Royals officials about how they see the next several years shaping up.

When Do You Bring Prospects Up?

"You can't take a bunch of young guys up to the big league level and have them struggle together. The (Miguel) Cabrera's of the world are so unusual. He was batting cleanup in the big leagues at 19. He's a phenom. If you bring up too many young guys, bring up together. If you bring up too many guys who haven't gone through the stresses of the big leagues, it retards their development. You can't bring up five positional prospects at the same time."

John Boles
(former Marlins/Expos farm director and Marlins manager, currently special assistant to the GM for the Mariners)

"Patience (from fans) wears thin very quickly."

Dave Dombrowski
Tigers general manager

"I think you separate the men from the boys at Double-A. But when you have a kid who is really good in rookie ball or Class A you start projecting in your head. The kids who will be impact big league players you see it right away. For everyone else Double-A is the first real tough testing ground. You certainly have things in your mind like this will be our shortstop in four years. And you hope you're right more times than you're not."

John Boles
(former Marlins/Expos farm director and Marlins manager, currently special assistant to the GM for the Mariners)

"There is a small amount of development that can only take place in the big leagues. Finding that balance of where that last 10 percent of his development comes in that has to come together in the big leagues can be tricky."

A.J. Hinch
(former Diamondbacks farm director/manager, currently director of pro scouting for Padres)

"What it boils down to for me is the comfort level as to how the player will make adjustments. Some, the great ones, often adapt very quickly, but a lot of prospects come to the big leagues and there is an adjustment period."

A.J. Hinch
(former Diamondbacks farm director/manager, currently director of pro scouting for Padres)

"For this first group of guys, it's about finishing off part of the process for the guys in the upper levels in the system. The final pieces we have to carry through is you have to have players realize what's the next step is. Right now their confidence is high. They feel like they belong. But now the most important part is how do we ensure they are ready? Part of it is trying to keep things in perspective. The difference from being minor leaguer to being a big leaguer is it's a more competitive stage."

J.J. Picollo
Royals assistant general manager

(At Triple-A you'll face) guys can pitch backwards, forwards, you'll face power stuff and soft stuff. That's why we try not to jump (hitters) from Double-A to the big leagues."

J.J. Picollo
Royals assistant general manager

"I think some of it depends on where your system is. If you have a group of guys ready to get (to the big leagues) together, then that's great. More often than not the players will be on different timetables. Staggering it is more of a result of their performance. If guys are ready at the same time, then they are ready at the same time."

J.J. Picollo
Royals assistant general manager

"If there is a right fielder that's hitting and doing a good job, and you have a right field prospect doing his job, it's not going to be time yet. Typically eventually you'll figure out to make that fit.

It's case by case. We'll let it play out. When one is ready and the opportunity is there, he'll get his shot."

J.J. Picollo
Royals assistant general manager

"Right now for the Kansas City Royals, we're still trying to establish themselves. Some of the teams that have perennially been competitive, you can float a guy in there and he can try to blend in. We have to be more careful, because they aren't going to be protected as well. No one player can turn a franchise around."

J.J. Picollo
Royals assistant general manager

"You have the evaluations. A big reason guys are in (big league) camp is our evaluations say these guys are major league prospects. There is no one in camp we don't think can contribute at some point in 2011. Realistically they won't all get here in 2011. Then it comes down to knowing the personnel. Can this player handle failure? Is he mentally ready for the negatives? If we feel mentally they are prepared and they are tough enough, then that puts them ahead of another player on our timetable. A good example is Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer. They both had very tough first months in pro baseball. The both bounced back in May. We'll find out a lot about Aaron Crow this year. When they go through those adversities, they will be able to deal with them in the major leagues."

J.J. Picollo
Royals assistant general manager

"If we had a handful get there at same time, and they can grow together on the major league field, that may be an advantage, but that's not something you can plan out. The game is the ultimate evaluator. If our plans come together there will be a nucleus by the end of 2012."

J.J. Picollo
Royals assistant general manager

"They have to continue doing it. In the end they have to produce. It's one thing when you are projecting on tools. But they have to go out and do it. We're not going to force feed guys to the major leagues. If you haven't done it in minors, it's hard to see them doing it in the majors."

J.J. Picollo
Royals assistant general manager

"In the ideal world it's better off to be a little late than a little bit early (on promoting a player to the big leagues). But I look at teams like San Francisco. They brought up Madison Bumgarner whether he was ready or not, they were willing to take that risk. If we are in a pennant race, and we're not quite sure, we'll be more willing to take that risk. As a general rule, you'd rather be a little late than a little early."

J.J. Picollo
Royals assistant general manager

"There is a difference between impact players and core players. The impact guy will not fail. Some of these kids are so good, that you just lock him in the closet for three years and he'll be a big league player. There are guys like that. Those guys are the Miguel Cabreras. Those guys aren't going to miss, and they shouldn't miss. If those guys miss, it's because of makeup. It's either a bad attitude, bad work ethic, off-field problems. But it's not because of the talent."

John Boles
(former Royals/Marlins/Expos farm director and Marlins manager, currently special assistant to the GM for the Mariners)

The Importance Of Knowing Your Own Players

"You should know your own players better than anyone else does. You are dealing with young players, but hopefully you should have a better feel than other teams do."

Dave Dombrowski
Tigers general manager

"In every organization it's vital that they know everything about their own system. You don't want to be mistaken about a guy who is with you. That's more important than knowing the other farm systems. You can see a Larry Walker, a Miguel Cabrera or a Moises Alou. You rarely make mistakes on those kind of talents."

John Boles
(former Marlins/Expos farm director and Marlins manager, currently special assistant to the GM for the Mariners)

"You can't make mistakes on your own players. You have no excuse. You may miss on a high school player because you didn't realize he had an off-field problem. But in your own organization that's unforgivable."

John Boles
(former Marlins/Expos farm director and Marlins manager, currently special assistant to the GM for the Mariners)

It's Not Easy

"If you are considered an elite farm system where most of your prospects are pitchers, that's a double-edged sword. Things happen to pitchers. There is a great attrition rate for pitchers. If you're heavy on the pitching side, that can go wrong real quick."

John Mirabelli
Indians assistant general manager

"Most difficult part is how do you get (those prospects) to come together at the same time. You have to talk about economics. But if you have a bunch of zeroes to threes (as far as service time) you can have a nice window where you can make a run."

John Mirabelli
Indians assistant general manager

"You have to know what your opposition is doing and scout outside the organization. At some point you have to decide who are the core players, who are the complimentary guys.  Who has value, who should you trade? Those decisions are made for you (in a thin system). He'll continue to get a chance. You don't have any other options at that point."

John Mirabelli
Indians assistant general manager

"When I became the farm director in Kansas City (general manager) John Schuerholz asked me. Do you know what your job is? I said, 'sure it's to get guys to the big leagues.' He told me, 'I want one guy to help us win at the major league level every year. Just one.' First year it may have been David Cone, second year Kevin Seitzer. If you get one or two guys a year to really make a significant impact on the major league club, you're doing what you should be doing."

John Boles
(former Marlins/Expos farm director and Marlins manager, currently special assistant to the GM for the Mariners)

"Making the right decisions on who your core players are. That's very challenging. You are put under the gun to make the right decision. With less depth those decisions are made for you."

John Mirabelli
Indians assistant general manager

"The amount of impact talent that a system can create in the big leagues is a huge separating factor for having a good system. You certainly want complimentary players as well, but you want impact players. Having productive impact players is the point."

A.J. Hinch
(former Diamondbacks farm director/manager, currently director of pro scouting for Padres)

It Comes Down To Pitching

"It was Earl Weaver I think who said, 'your momentum is only as good as the next day's starter.' Staring pitching covers up a lot of mistakes in your organization. We used to joke around when I was with the Braves. When we had a tough day, we'd say, it's OK, Smoltz is pitching tomorrow, or Glavine is pitching, Maddux is pitching."

Dayton Moore
Royals general manager

"The AL is a killer league because you have to score runs. The NL, if you can solidify your rotation and come up with a closer, then you can have long-term success. You can find and buy enough bats, but you just can't get the pitching. You have to develop it yourself."

John Boles
(former Royals/Marlins/Expos farm director and Marlins manager, currently special assistant to the GM for the Mariners)

Where The Royals Are Now

"I celebrate what we have been able to accomplish, but at the same time it's very fragile when you are dealing with young players. I don't want to downplay what they have accomplished. They've built this farm system in three drafts, or you could say four drafts."

Dayton Moore
Royals general manager

"To win in baseball you have to have talent. But it's (working) every single day, so you have to have a lot of pride and passion for the organization and the team. That's a mindset we have to identify. We have to draft it, sign it, nurture it and develop it. That being said, they have to have those character traits within them when you sign them."

Dayton Moore
Royals general manager

Can The Royals Keep Their Best Players?

"We've been fortunate with the Glass family. In my time here, the three best players have been Zack Greinke, Joakim Soria and Billy Butler. We signed all of them long term. Butler is signed potentially through 2015, Soria through 2014. We have demonstrated that ownership is willing to sign our best players long-term."

Dayton Moore
Royals general manager

Every Decision Counts

"Every decision we make with regard to the draft is affecting our organization for the next 3-4 years. I often think about this. The one decision to make a trade for John Smoltz, that impacted the Braves for many years. That's why you have to be extremely focused and prepared to go to work. You have to have your "A" game every single day."

Dayton Moore
Royals general manager

What's The Timetable For Kansas City?

"Certainly we expect some of these players in 2011. In 2012 you'll see a little more and more in 2013. In one to three years we expect the majority of these players, assuming they progress, we expect them to be on this baseball team."

Dayton Moore
Royals general manager

The Many Years Of Losing And The Process

"Ownership told me they wanted to build the farm system, through the draft and through scouting internationally. It was the only way we knew how to do it. We couldn't do it any other way."

Dayton Moore
Royals general manager

"It's up to me as the GM to take the hits and to make sure that for the people below you the morale is high, the environment is strong."

Dayton Moore
Royals general manager

"Our goal is to win a World Series. That's why we've tried to be really aggressive about taking the best player in the draft. Only reason we're all involved in athletics is we love to compete. It's an opportunity, It's one of the tremendous challenges. You look at what they did in Tampa, what Chuck LaMarr started and Andrew Friedman polished off is substantial. What Terry Ryan and Mike Radcliffe and everyone in Minnesota, Dan O'Dowd in Colorado. John Schuerholz, Bobby Cox, Paul Snyder, Roy Clark and others in Atlanta. It's why we do this. It's about competition."

Dayton Moore
Royals general manager

"The history of baseball has proven that building your big league team through free agency is a flawed way to build your team. It has to be through scouting and player development."

Dayton Moore
Royals general manager

"The short answer is no it hasn't been easy. There is no way to prepare for a lot of the losing until you experience and go through it. It builds your character as a human being having to endure that. We knew this would be a tremendous challenge. From where this was and where we are trying to go, it's a tremendous challenge. Everyone in the organization respects that challenge. It's been fortunate that everyone has stayed committed. The continuity has been strong."

Dayton Moore
Royals general manager

"In 2007 at our first organization meetings our vision was very clear. By 2012, 2013, we wanted the majority of our big league team to be homegrown talent. We looked at that with the players we were considering for the draft. We said 'we will build this organization through homegrown talent.' We're on track. Before Sept. of 2009 we had five homegrown players on the field. The important part of that is we need another wave coming behind this group to blend in."

Dayton Moore
Royals general manager

How Can You Tell A Player Is Developing Properly?

"For instance, Mike Moustakas, it's pitch recognition. We want to see a decrease in the number of at-bats where he gets himself out. Last year we saw progress. That's the progress we need to see. That will continue. We know he has power, we know he has bat speed. But he has to keep doing it because he'll be facing better pitchers. He has to continue to progress in that fashion. (Those adjustments)  will occur throughout their career. They'll have to continually make adjustments. Every player had an individual development plan. We don't sit down with a checklist of things, but those things are communicated through our daily actions."

J.J. Picollo
Royals assistant general manager

Changing The Culture

"When we came here in Kansas City, there was a definite goal in mind. Mentally you are prepared for this moment (with prospects nearly ready for the big leagues). Realistically it's a step in the process. It's not the final step. If we are fortunate enough to win a World Series, that's a final step, but it doesn't even end there. If you put a long term plan in place, you know it will be continuous. With the structure of the finances of baseball, every draft is important. Every year it's about having three to five guys ready to help at the big league level, that's the only way to sustain it."

J.J. Picollo
Royals assistant general manager

"Every year we have more and more kids come out to our complex (during the offseason) to work out. It's because they know the competitive nature of the system means they don't want to be left behind."

J.J. Picollo
Royals assistant general manager

"No one will be given the pass to the next league because you're a year older. There are players I haven't been asked about all spring who are prospects. They are in a competitive culture and they have good makeup. We have more difficult decisions to make this year on who will be on our Double-A team, who will be on our high Class A team. We have some difficult decisions, but that's what we've been working for."

J.J. Picollo
Royals assistant general manager

"We are open minded to every player. When we had career development meetings. We had Tim Collins, undrafted and traded here. Patrick Keating, Jarrod Dyson, Clint Robinson were later round picks. Scouting is such an inexact science. The opportunities don't just go to the guys who get high dollars. Our scouts have been very objective in their evaluations. Our development staff wasn't paying attention to the rounds they were taken in. They weren't fluffing things up because a guy got money."

J.J. Picollo
Royals assistant general manager

"It's a combination of balance and depth. We have guys at just about every position who are legitimate prospects. We know the failure rate. We know the success rate is not high. Not everyone will become what we think they could be. But because we have depth in the system, when we have failure, the depth can protect us."

J.J. Picollo
Royals assistant general manager