First-Year Player Draft
Today is one of MLBAM’s biggest days of on-line activity … draft day.
I cannot come close to the amount of coverage and insight BAM provides on the amateur draft. If you want that, check out mlb.com or whitesox.com.
What I can give you is a look into the draft room during the first round …
First, the facts from our press release:
The Chicago White Sox selected right-handed pitcher Kyle McCulloch of the University of Texas with their first-round pick (29th overall) in today’s Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
McCulloch, 21, was named the Big 12 Conference Pitcher of the Year after going 8-5 with a 3.61 ERA (44 ER/109.2 IP) and one save in 19 games (18 starts) during his junior season with the Longhorns in 2006. The right-hander led Texas to a 41-21 record and a berth in the NCAA Regionals.
“Kyle is someone we have followed now for a number of years,” said Duane Shaffer, White Sox Senior Director of Player Personnel. “He’s enjoyed success at every level, he’s consistently exceeded the competition in every league and at every level, and we are very confident in his ability to help in the big leagues in the near future.”
The Houston native led the Longhorns in wins, IP, starts and strikeouts (82) in 2006. The 6-foot-3, 185-pounder also earned his second straight First-Team All-Big 12 selection and was named to the Academic All-Big 12 Second-Team. McCulloch was the winning pitcher in the 2005 College World Series national championship game vs. the University of Florida, striking out eight over 6.2 IP.
“I am very excited to have been selected by the World Champion Chicago White Sox,” said McCulloch, who pitched on the USA Baseball National Team last summer. “I cannot wait to start my professional career with such a great organization.”
McCulloch joins right-handed pitcher Lance Broadway (2005, 15th overall), infielder Josh Fields (2004, 18th), outfielder Brian Anderson (2003, 15th), left-handed pitcher Royce Ring (2002, 18th) and right-handed pitcher Kris Honel (2001, 16th) as the last six first-round picks. McCulloch was recommended by White Sox scout Keith Staab.
Now the behind-the-scenes stuff …
McCulloch was our player all along. Our scouting staff was hoping he would still be available and on the board when we picked, late in the first round, at 29.
Everyone in the conference room, about 20 people in all, including Ken Williams, Rick Hahn and Duane Shaffer, held their breath late in the first round, especially when the Red Sox had back-to-back picks at 27 and 28.
"Congratulations," Williams said to Shaffer once it was clear we got our guy.
Twice during the 30 minute wait, Williams called Shaffer and assistant general manager Rick Hahn into private conferences to discuss the team’s options.
When Scott Merkin, a reporter for whitesox.com entered the conference room, which has its walls covered with MLB rosters, evaluations and our entire draft board, Williams joked (or half joked): "You are not allowed to look at that wall, only this one. We have video cameras and snipers trained on you."
As others in our division selected their picks, Williams commented, "this division isn’t getting any easier."
Our draft board is set up with hundereds of magnets, each representing a player. First round picks are lined up on the left, followed by second and third. Mid round players are grouped in the middle of the board by position, and the right side of the board has a number of draft and follows or players we would like to sign if they are not drafted.
As names are called off on the MLB conference call, Andrew Pinter and scout Nathan Durst remove the magnet from one board and place him on a second board that shows the day’s results.
Quickly — at least in the first few rounds — and then more slowly later, the one board empties while the other fills up.
All of these rankings are based on our scouts’ evaluations of players they have been following for years.
I am always surprised when teams select a player, some pretty high, that do not appear anywhere on our board because out scouts have watched him play and not turned him in as a prospect. This is probably true, though, of every single team in baseball. It is pretty rare that a player is taken who no one on our scouting staff has seen. The coverage of this country is amazing. If you are a high school, junior college or college player with skills, chances are someone saw you and evaluated you at some point.
Anyway, the funniest thing today was that it turns out Mr. McCulloch is (was) an Astros fan.
"Tell him to hang with it …" someone laughed.
Just before the draft began, Jerry Reinsdorf popped into the room and presented Shaffer with a Gold pass for Long & Meritorious Service. The passes are presented to anyone who has worked in the game for 25 years.
"After 25 years at most businesses, they give you a gold watch or a trip," Reinsdorf said. "Only in baseball do we reward a scout for 25 years in the game with a lifetime pass to watch more baseball."