I'd like to take today's prospect A-Z post to talk about the Rays supposed drafting bias towards the Pacific Northwest (that fits because Ian Kendall was drafted out of Ashland HS in Oregon). This supposed bias can be tied to pro-scout Paul Kirsch. Kirsch himself was a minor league player for 7 years after being drafted out of the University of Oregon. He then coached and managed in the minor leagues for 10 years before joining the Rays as Northwest Scouting Director in 1996. The fact that Kirsch is with the Rays scouting department since its inception gives me the opportunity to collect a solid amount of data for this mini-analysis. I'm going to compare the league average rates of how often a baseball player is drafted out of Washington or Oregon to the rates for the Rays. First I'm going to take a look at overall draft rates per state.
In the recent 10 drafts, 3.8% of all drafted players have had ties with Oregon or Washington. This means that they either were drafted out of a school from that area or born in that area. The data set is pretty consistent here with 9 of these 10 drafts having between 3.6 and 4.6% of the players from Oregon or Washington (outlier: in '06 only 2.3% were from there). The Rays, however, have not had a single draft in their franchise history, in which they drafted less than 5% of their players (I always looked at the first 20 rounds of each year) from Washington or Oregon. The average is at 8% with 26 of the 327 top 20 round selections since '96 coming from these states. The following graph compares the MLB averages over the last 10 years with the Rays averages since their participation in the draft.
So, there is a bias towards the Pacific Northwest in the Rays draft. I don't necessarily think that the only reason for that is the Rays trusting Paul Kirsch that much (while they certainly do). I also think that the fact that the Pacific Northwest is less scouted than the warm weather states like California, Texas and Florida plays a very big role in that. The Rays do their homework ... and as the graph above shows, they do it even more since the new regime took over (late '05 --> for the '06 draft). Scouting well in less scouted states is a tiny piece of the famous 2%.
Another factor I think is very interesting in this regard: The new regime much more drafts players from the Pacific Northwest in the early rounds of the draft. Since 2006 the average round a player (of the top 20 rounds) from Washington or Oregon was drafted in was 7.25 (1supplemental = 1.5 in this calculation). From 1996 to 2005 it was 12.58. The sample size (26 players), however, is very small in this matter as the following table shows.