The MLB Draft is here, which means the busiest time of the year for Dodgers vice president of amateur scouting Logan White, in his 13th year running the club's draft selections.
From 2002-2013, the Dodgers have had 19 total picks either in the first round or supplemental first round (in between the first and second rounds, depending on whatever version of free agent compensation was available at the time), and 14 of those picks were used on pitchers, including seven high school pitchers. It's understandable that White has a reputation for drafting pitching high in his drafts.
White explained his preference for pitchers to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
"You've heard me say over and over why I draft a lot of pitchers, " said White. "It's my 4/2 rule. For every four you take, two will break, probably need surgery at some point. So I draft a lot of pitchers. Some clubs will stay away from the pitchers because they worry about the injuries. I think that's wrong.
"Pitching is always the most valuable commodity. You have to draft pitching. I try to draft the player that will have the greatest impact on the Major League level for the longest time. That's the type of player I look for, and he's often a pitcher. You hope it's a [Clayton] Kershaw or a [Matt] Kemp. That's what you're shooting for."
That said, the Dodgers have also been linked to some position players, both high school and college, in various mock drafts in the preceding weeks.
White is joined by a beefed-up amateur scouting department in recent years under the Guggenheim Partners ownership group, building up the club's infrastructure much more so than under the Frank McCourt regime. One addition is Roy Clark, hired last November after working with Dodgers CEO Stan Kasten in both Washington and Atlanta, heavily involved in the draft for those franchises.
Clark is a national crosschecker for the Dodgers, and White explained how they work together to Pedro Moura of the Orange County Register:
“If you look at the way he’s drafted and the way I’ve drafted over the years, we certainly believe in taking the high-ceiling players that can be high-impact players at the major-league level,” White said this week. “We’re both very tools-oriented in the types of players we take. I think our philosophies align in that we try to stay aggressive throughout the draft.”
White told Moura the 2014 draft was heavier on pitching, and in an interview with Cary Osborne of Dodger Insider White said his philosophy was to always take the best player available rather than to fill a perceived need:
“Certainly we look what we can do to shore up and improve our position player situation,” White said. “But it’s so difficult in baseball to look at it and say we’re going to draft based on need. A perfect example is you look at our starting second baseman, Dee Gordon. Last year at this point in time, a lot of people wouldn’t have said Dee Gordon will be your starting second baseman. So people will say you need a second baseman. We had one in house and he’s here. Sometimes these things work themselves out. Like catcher. We have a kid named Kyle Farmer and a kid named Spencer Navin. We drafted both last year and both have a chance to be good Major League catchers.
“You certainly want to look at position players and have a strategy behind it, but you can’t make a draft produce something it doesn’t have.”