Women In Baseball: Blue Jays' Ginger Poulson Embraces The MLB Draft Experience
There’s no more exciting time for Ginger Poulson than draft time.
The amateur scouting analyst for the Blue Jays believes it would be hard not to love something when you’re working on it year-round, nonstop. But heading into her fourth draft as a member of the Toronto organization, the excitement continues to build.
“The draft is such a fun experience,” Poulson said. “It’s probably my favorite time of the year, and the draft room is one of my favorite places in the world.
“It’s a culmination of so many people’s work that spans for months, even years. Seeing how we value the information from everyone in the room and really collaborate to create that great process is such a cool experience.”
Poulson understands the plethora of factors accounting for the organization’s draft process, and how each might alter the team’s board, change player rankings and intersect with other variables to cause a ripple effect. But she also knows that each complication or speed bump on the road to player acquisition can make the end product even more rewarding.
That’s something Poulson has seen come to fruition this year by way of 23-year-old righthander Alek Manoah, the first player to make the big leagues out of the drafts she’s been a part of. The Blue Jays drafted Manoah 11th overall out of West Virginia in 2019.
“All the work that goes on behind the scenes, you have no way of knowing until you’ve been in the draft room,” Poulson said. “The best way to explain it is controlled chaos.
“You don’t know what players are going to be available where—there are a lot of different variables that can change in the days and weeks leading up, and even during the draft that you can’t account for ahead of time. And depending on who is there, signability might be different than somebody else’s at that pick, and maybe that changes your strategy.
“Seeing Alek Manoah pitching in the majors and knowing the process that it took to get him, and how hard (area scout) Coulson Barbiche and (crosschecker) Michael Youngberg worked, and the process in the draft room—it’s exciting to know that the process worked there.”
It’s a process that has been in flux during Poulson’s time with Toronto. Her first two drafts in 2018 and 2019 were 40 rounds. Last year’s was five rounds.
This year, the draft is 20 rounds and takes place in July, a month later than it traditionally has been held.
“We were able to leverage different things that we maybe wouldn’t have had internally as tools if it was a normal season, because everyone would have been wrapped up in other things,” Poulson said of last year. “It was pretty great, and it helped us evolve moving forward in how we’re valuing certain inputs in the draft room because of the tools we used last year.
“This year, our scouts were starting from a different place. For them to be able to adapt and still get to know their areas front and back, which I really believe they’ve done, it’s impressive. I can’t compliment them enough for what they’ve done.”
Jumping into player evaluation from a journalism background, and having her own chance to scout, there’s nothing Poulson has found more valuable than the insights of others in the department, who have encouraged her and shaped her positive experience, as well as her love for the draft.
“This is where I’m supposed to be,” Poulson said. “I wouldn’t have thought this was a possible career path necessarily when I was in school . . . since I didn’t play or haven’t been doing this for decades, I didn’t think I would have anything to bring to the table.
“But the scouts have really championed me and helped me feel like I belong and my voice matters in the room, and that there is something I can bring to the table, too.”