Thursday turned out to be a great day to learn about the White Sox farm system. In the afternoon, several White Sox bloggers and I got a chance to throw questions at scouting director Doug Laumann, who gave very thorough answers to our philosophical questions about scouting and drafting.
And if you missed it in the minor-league thread, Larry got Kevin Goldstein's thoughts on numerous prospects.
Here's what Laumann had to say to our questions:
On high-upside players with contact issues
"If [a player] is somebody that's a polished player, as well as having those types of tools, they're not going to get that far down in the draft to you. So basically, what we have to do is we have to make an evaluation on their athleticism, and possibly because of the amount of baseball they played -- or perhaps even, you could say, the lack of baseball that maybe some of them played -- that with particular instruction and repetition and the chance to play the game, that eventually they catch up to that level."
"We just take the athlete, and the athlete that has the tools to be able to play the game, and hopefully it all comes together."
"As scouts, the only thing we can look at is tools, and it's hard for us to predict that consistency. It's pretty much in their hands, and how hard they're going to work. As long as we continue to see those tools, we think that there's enough progress that they're eventually going to get it."
On figuring out which guys are signable
"I've always been told by [Jerry] Reinsdorf and Kenny [Williams] that we're going to take the best player available. Now there's a point where I have to temper that a little bit. If we feel a player is valued at X number of dollars, and he wants X plus $2 million, then I'm probably not going to go ahead and take him."
"What we will do is, if a player and what their expectations are, and what our expectations are, are a little bit closer together, I have been given the liberty to go ahead and try to take that player. We did this year with Keenyn Walker -- we paid him a little bit more than what was recommended, but we valued him as a player."
"Often times, a player's value is inflated, whether it be from a coach, an agent, a family member, they sometimes don't really know what their value in the marketplace is, and it's up to us to try to stay within that framework."
"There's times when you take a shot on a guy in the seventh or eighth round, and you don't know if you're going to get him signed because maybe his demands are a little bit higher than what you think his value is. So somewhere later in the draft, there might be another kid in the same situation who you take as kind of a backup for that guy."
"To get a balance of the player having the ability, matching up with what you think his value is, with what he thinks his value is, his medical, his psychological profile, all the different things you have to fit in -- it's not like a fantasy draft. You're not drafting in a vacuum. You have to have all your ducks in a row, and if you don't, you end up blowing a pick."
On a pitcher- and catcher-heavy draft
"It's always our philosophy and our belief to draft pitching. I've said it before, I'll say it every year: If I took 10 pitchers with my first 10 picks every year, I think Mr. Reinsdorf and Mr. Williams would be tickled to death."
"I was once told by a gentleman who's probably a Hall of Fame scout -- Paul Snyder of the Atlanta Braves -- to get one quality starter to the big leagues, it probably takes 10 minor-league prospects ... There are just so many things that happen along the way."
"We think we've got four or five catchers, but you can never have enough catching prospects. You've got to at least one for each team, and if you've got six affiliates, if you think you have six guys who at least have a chance to play in the big leagues, I think you're going pretty good."
On prospects failing for other clubs (Dexter Carter and Aaron Poreda)
"We have a lot of confidence in our pitching instructors and our pitching program. I think it would be a little bit arrogant or elitist to think that our guys know more or do better or work harder than anybody else's staff, but I think sometimes we may recognize something in somebody's delivery or somebody's makeup that allows us to get through to them."
"Carter was very, very, very good for us. He was one of the staples in that trade, and he went out and was just not good at all. We've got him back, and we're starting to see signs of things coming back to his whole package that we had before we traded him away."
"So, I don't know. Maybe sometimes it's just in the makeup of the particular player, maybe the comfort with a certain instructor or certain group of people that are around that allows him to have success. A lot of this is just the matter of opportunity, and maybe we've afforded these guys a little bit more of an opportunity than maybe they were in the other places."
On using teaching to fill gaps in a pitching prospect's game
"We try to work hand-in-hand with our player development ... we think it's really important to work with them. I spend a lot of time talking to our pitching people about, 'If a guy does this or does that, is that something you can fix? Is it something that you can make better? Is it something you can make him more consistent with?' And on the flip side, 'What don't you like about guys? If a guy lands open or a guy overstrides or does this or that, how easy is it to fix?'"
"We try to teach our guys to be able to recognize things like this. I think we've done a pretty good job. The classic example in this is Daniel Hudson, who was a fifth-round pick out of Old Dominion, and the kid didn't even make it to the mound half the time in college. He didn't have a whole lot of success. There were some things that our scouts recognized in his delivery that gave us the feeling like, once he got with our pitching people, if he could make this adjustment or that adjustment ... and that's what happened and that's what he was able to do."
"Because of our theory and because of our opinions on power arms -- Kenny's always been very strong with us to draft guys with power arms -- we have to be able to determine of those power-arm guys, who's going to be able to pitch, who's going to be able to locate with that power arm, and whether or not we're going to be able to teach him a second or third pitch if they don't already have one."
"Our guys have to be smart enough and diligent enough to know which guys are just throwing it up there as hard as they can for the radar gun, versus those guys who, once they are taught to be under control, and once they're taught to be able to locate, are they still going to be able to maintain that type of velocity?"
On changing a player's position
"Often times, the best player on a high school team will more than likely pitch and play shortstop. What we need to do as scouts is we have to recognize whether or not, at the next level, that kid is going to be able to play a position based on the tools that profile for that position."
On Latin America
"I think we're getting close ... Kenny has made an investment personnel-wise in Venezuela and the Dominican, to get some former players that we have on the ground in those areas. We felt like it was very important to have people who have an investment in the White Sox because they've had a history with us, so that we have confidence that they're doing the right thing, so that they understand the system over there."
"But quite honestly, by doing it the way we're going to go about doing it, some of these people are younger guys who maybe haven't scouted before. So, we're going to have to integrate with them some of our scouts, to train them and teach them about the kind of players we're looking for."
"Unfortunately, with the way the system is set up right now, it's hard to be competitive with some of these bigger-market teams that are willing to spend X number of dollars more than we are. We look at a player in Latin America the same as we do here -- we try to put a price value on them."
"We had several player in Latin America that we had interest in before the July 2 deadline, but we might've had a price tag on them of X, and another club that's willing and wanted to spend a whole lot more money comes in and offers the same player X plus $2 million, and we honestly didn't think that at that point in time the investment was worth it."
"But I can assure you we're there, we're scouting, we're beginning to evaluate. We haven't made much of a splash yet as far as signing any of these guys, but I'm going to spend some time over there again this summer, and I would expect sometime here, at least by the end of the calendar year, that we'll probably sign a few guys in Latin America."
*Laumann mentioned Gary Majewski when talking about Carter. The White Sox drafted him, trading him to the Dodgers, got him back when he flopped, and he ended up having a decent big-league career.
*The amount of players drafted from California was a coincidence, but Laumann did note that the terrible weather across most of the country did seem to work in their favor.
*Laumann says he feels "a little bit bad" for Jared Mitchell, because his momentum stopped after a fine first partial season in pro ball due to injury. He still has a lot of faith in him.
*Specifically, Laumann mentioned Texas A&M's Brandon Parent (30th round, left-handed pitcher) as somebody the Sox gave earlier-round money to later in the draft.
*Regarding the unsigned eighth and 10th round picks (Ian Gardeck and Benjamin O'Shea), "it doesn't feel like we're going to make a whole lot of progress with them." O'Shea is already going to Maryland.
*And if that's not all, the White Sox also came to terms with third-round pick Jeff Soptic for $320,000 ($40,100 over slot), which prompted this tweet from Baseball America's Jim Callis: