Part II focuses on compensatory picks, Kirsch's Pac-NW scouting, Pitching Vs. Positional prospects, Mikie Mahtook and HJL. Enjoy!!!
JL: Before 2010, the Rays had 0 compensatory picks in drafts. In the last 2 drafts, the Rays have seemingly made up for every draft with multiple extra picks. Do you believe that this is to the Rays' benefit to add extra picks to the early rounds,thus causing the budget for the Draft to rise by a few million or does it make it harder by having more players to scout on a yearly basis?
CB: The June draft is vital to our success and we were certainly glad to have as many extra picks in 2011 as we did. Of course they come with financial and logistical challenges, but they give us a chance to add a lot of talent to the system and so those are challenges that we welcome.
JL: It seems, on a yearly basis, that the Rays have drafted an abundance of players from the Pacific Northwest. In fact, according to some fact-checking by BurGi of Rays Prospects(cheap plug), the Rays have never had a draft in which they drafted less than 5% of their players from Washington or Oregon. In fact, 2010's draft started out with a plethora of Pac-NW players. Does Paul Kirsch know something that others don't?
CB: PK's grasp of the Northwest is as good as there is in the industry and he backs that up with a great work ethic and conviction in his opinions. When those things are in place, an area scout is going to get players, because he puts the scouting director in a position to take them. For a player to go at the top of the draft, a lot of people need to believe in his ability, but you may not even get to that point unless the area guy does his homework.
JL: In the last few years, it's become blindingly clear that the Rays produce pitchers like no farm system has since the Early 2000's Cubs(Prior, Wood, Cruz, Willis, Nolasco to name a few). However, Rays fans have questioned the farm system's ability to produce homegrown positional talent. Do the Rays incorporate a certain philosophy when it comes to positional talent as it appears that it does with pitchers?
CB: We try to have a method to everything that we do, whether it's with position players or pitchers. Certainly, in recent years we've been much more successful developing pitching, especially starting pitching, which is a hugely important area for us. But we've had some high-quality position players come through our system, too, and have a number of prospects now at various levels that we think have a real chance to make an impact.
JL: Rays fans were quite shocked when the Rays decided to add Mikie Mahtook's name to the list of Rays representative's for the Arizona Fall League. Was this due to how advanced he was believed to have already been as a hitter at the time of his draft or did the organization believe that a post-draft layoff for him would not be beneficial to his benefit?
CB: Mikie came to us as one of the most accomplished players in college baseball and, coming from the SEC, was used to a high level of play. We felt he'd be able to hold his own against the competition in Arizona and to his credit he's done even better than that. He comes to play every day, and he's had great at-bats and hit the ball hard.
JL: With the trade of Matt Garza, the Rays somewhat shored-up 2 positions that it was believed that the organization didn't have quality or "impactful" depth at, shortstop and catcher. Hak-Ju Lee had a very successful season at PC, but somewhat hit a bump when he got promoted to AA. Did his early-season health issues have anything to do with possible conditioning problems that may be to blame for his declines in Montgomery?
CB: Hak-Ju's still young and still growing into his body, and between that and the extreme heat of both the Port Charlotte and Montgomery summers, he was a little worn out by the end of the year. The learning experiences in the minor leagues aren't confined to the quality of the opposition -- they're also about learning what you need to do to prepare your body on a daily basis, and getting ready for the longest season -- 162, and hopefully more, big league games. It's a process, and there are going to be bumps in the road, especially for players who are young for their level.