Wednesday, September 13, 2007
Q&A with Mike Radcliff
Twins Director of Scouting
Good morning! Before the season, I was fortunate to have a Q&A with Twins Scouting Director Mike Radcliff. At the time, I know we were thrilled with some of the candor he answered the questions with. Today, I am thrilled that he was willing to do another Q&A. Today's Q&A is about the major league first year players draft. I asked a few philosophical questions followed by some questions on some of the Twins 2007 draft choices. It is fascinating for me. Generally, we are able to read box scores and stat lines about these players. But it is interesting to know a little more about the player and why the Twins scouts were so high on him. I hope this is just Part 1 of several Q&As with Mr. Radcliff throughout the offseason. Please feel free to write me with any questions or comments, or feel free to leave some Comments below.
Let the Questions Begin!
SethSpeaks: The selection of Ben Revere was deemed controversial by many. Many ranked him in the 50-70 range, and you took him with the 28th pick. What made Revere the right choice for the Twins in 2007? How much does signability enter into the formula?
Mike Radcliff: We were convicted in the two most influential separators on a HS position player—we absolutely believe that he will hit, and we were as sure as a scouting staff can be on his makeup/character. He profiles to be a middle-of-the-diamond regular with top-of-the-lineup impact—a very valuable commodity. Signability is a factor in that each team must sign it’s top draft picks. Ben Revere was not drafted to save money; some players are—he was not one.
SethSpeaks: He has made you look very smart with his success so far as a pro. We are seeing him hit for average, steal bases and show some extra base pop. Are those the things that you would project for him to continue to do as he moves up the system?
Mike Radcliff: We believe Ben can be a very exciting offensive player. He has physical abilities that give him ceiling in many categories. We hope to develop all of his skills as he progresses the minor league ladder.
SethSpeaks: I have heard that Revere may be even faster than Denard Span. Any truth to that? And who would you rank as the Top 5 fastest players in the Twins system?
Mike Radcliff: That would be an interesting race; Ben is probably quicker, Denard may be faster once he is underway. Along with those two players, the fastest players from home to first base are (Joe) Benson, (Jeanfred) Brito, (Darnell) Mcdonald, (Trent) Oeltjen, (Matt) Tolbert, (Brandon) Roberts, (Angel) Morales, (Mark) Dolenc.
SethSpeaks: I know that character is a very important factor for the Twins when drafting or signing players. Can you discuss how you and your staff determine 'character'?
Mike Radcliff: Defining makeup is an ongoing process gleaned from the many contacts and looks each scout and a scouting staff have over a long period of time. There are many character traits that impact a players’ eventual ability to survive the long journey to the Major Leagues and other traits that influence his ability to succeed in the ML’s. Much analysis is involved to determine our beliefs on each of these traits.
SethSpeaks: The perceived weakness in the Twins organization is bats. It appears that you addressed that to some degree by selecting high school hitters with your first four picks. Was that the plan all along, or were those four simply the guys at the top of your board when those picks came up?
Mike Radcliff: We never vary too far from the general theory of selecting the best available prospect as defined by our staff over the course of the year. Each year there are obvious objectives every team hopes to address in regards to system depth and developing talent. We have accentuated offense in the past few drafts with many of our high selections.
SethSpeaks: What kind of power potential can you see from Danny Rams?
Mike Radcliff: Danny has excellent raw power—maybe the best available in this past draft from a HS player. The key to his potential will be his development as a hitter. We think he has the makeup and swing traits to make the adjustments necessary to tap his natural strength.
SethSpeaks: I have read reports that Angel Morales is considered a potential five-tool player. You got him with your third round pick. What does he possess now and what tools do you believe that he could develop?
Mike Radcliff: Angel has the tools to be able to impact the game on defense and offense. Normal progress with routes, angles, and jumps will allow him to develop into a solid defender at all three OF spots. His overall bat potential will dictate the future ceiling for Angel. He has the body and strength potential to hit for power, and the bat speed and quickness to hit for average.
SethSpeaks: Reggie Williams signed right at the August 15th deadline. Did you have a feeling he would sign, and tell us a little about the type of player he could become?
Mike Radcliff: We have great respect for Reggie and his father, Reggie, sr and maintained a constructive relationship throughout the negotiation process. We are very happy to have Reggie in our system now and look forward to him competing in instructional league. Our scouts are excited about the offensive potential that Reggie will strive to develop over the next few years in our system.
SethSpeaks: Now that the August 15th deadline has passed, do you have any thoughts about that new rule? The Twins have had some success with Draft-and-Follows in the past couple of years. Did this rule change your strategy in any way?
Mike Radcliff: The Twins, like every other organization, will alter our selection approach and strategy to adhere to the new changes in the Draft process. All of us will continue to have the objective of selecting and signing the best prospects that we have defined over the course of the observation and analysis periods leading up to the Draft.
SethSpeaks: How close were you to signing Nathan Striz? Was that just a case of a guy that wanted to go to college?
Mike Radcliff: Nathan and his family chose the option of attending North Carolina University over the chance at a professional career at this time. We will be monitoring his baseball progress over the course of the next three years.
SethSpeaks: Mike McCardell is putting up some impressive numbers at Elizabethton, especially in terms of strikeouts. Since he went to a small school, we don't know as much about him and his skill set. What are his talents?
Mike Radcliff: Mike has a live fastball with heavy sink action that should have great versatility in regards to future staff roles. He uses a very effective slurve as his out pitch now. His development of a third pitch will be key to his advancement.
SethSpeaks: Dan Berlind was taken in the 44th round out of college. He went to a junior college and then you took him in the 7th round. What did he do over that year to increase his draft status that much. At 6-7, could he still grow and hopefully fill out?
Mike Radcliff: He has had a lot of success to this point with the GCL team. Daniel improved his draft status in junior college with improved velocity, strikeability, and maturity. We look forward to his improvements as a pitcher and hope he can gain strength to become the potential starter that his ceiling holds.
SethSpeaks: In Blair Erickson and Dan Latham, you took a couple of college relievers. Are either of them guys that could move up the system quickly?
Mike Radcliff: Both have great resumes of success as college relievers. Blair has a more power-oriented approach; Dan’s success is more linked to command and pitchability. Both have potential to become productive relief pitchers.
SethSpeaks: Last year you were able to take Danny Valencia, a solid college performer, in the 19th round. Based on his success so far at Elizabethton, it appears that you may have found a steal in selecting Ozzie Lewis in the 21st round. From my level and research, my guess is that Lewis is a heck of an athlete who has a chance to develop into a heck of a baseball player. What do you see in him?
Mike Radcliff: Ozzie has had a great first season of pro baseball. His confidence and aggressiveness should allow him to have a productive instructional league. He will need to improve his defense, base running, and swing adjustability to progress toward the ML ceiling we all hope he can attain.
SethSpeaks: You took St. Olaf's Andrew Schmiesing in the 13th round of the draft this year. Tell us a little bit about him as a player that made him a high-round selection. Also, he left the GCL team to go back to Northfield to play his senior year of college football. Was that something that had to be negotiated in his contract and signing bonus?
Mike Radcliff: We agreed to allow Andrew to pursue his SR season of football at St Olaf. We are very happy with his skills development after his first season. Andrew has good tools to develop into a productive offensive player.
SethSpeaks: I've noticed that the last few years, you have selected several college catchers. This year, you took Dan Lehmann from Rice (who has caught a lot of very good pitchers!) and Ben Petsch from Belmont University who really played well until his injury. Both seem able to hit, but can they provide the skills required defensively of a catcher?
Mike Radcliff: Danny is very advanced as a defensive player—he has good receive skills and a quick throw release. His development as a leader and game-caller will dictate his advancement. Ben is a longer project as a defensive player. He will get the opportunity to begin that process in instructional league.
SethSpeaks: There are 50 rounds to the draft. Going into the draft, do you have plans for how many players you intend to sign? How many did you sign this year?
Mike Radcliff: In conjunction with known organizational needs, every staff has intentions as to how many players are needed from the draft. The talent available dictates how many players each team eventually signs. The Twins signed twenty-two players from this past draft—a few more than we anticipated before the selection process began.
SethSpeaks: Do you make some sort of qualifying offer to all 50 draft choices, or do you ever make picks and then not even negotiate with them?
Mike Radcliff: By rule, each selection must be offered a contract.
Thank you to Mike Radcliff for taking the time to answer these questions on the Twins 2007 major league draft. Obviously we can all go find the names, and we can follow them in the box scores of the GCL and Elizabethton Twins. For me, it is very interesting to get the perspective of someone closer, and when it comes to the draft, there is no one closer to it than Mike Radcliff.
Do you have any thoughts or questions for Mike Radcliff or me? If so, please feel free to e-mail me or leave a question or comment below.
If you would like to read any previous Q&A's, I have set up a new page that contains the links to all of them. Click here to see who all has done a Q&A with SethSpeaks.
That is it for today. By the way, if you have any ideas for the site, people to try to get Q&As from, article concepts or more, please leave some Comments or send me an e-mail. I would appreciate your help. Have a terrific day!
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