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The Draft Roundtable, I
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2004 First-Year Player Draft
05/12/2004 11:54 AM ET
The Draft Roundtable, I
Gayton, Mirabelli discuss philosophy on MLB.com Radio
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Padres Scouting Director Bill Gayton said teams have to work with the cards they're dealt in each draft class. (courtesy Padres)

What exactly does the 2004 draft class look like? What do scouting directors do in the final weeks leading up to the draft to ensure they make the right selections on June 7 and 8?

On April 27, Padres Scouting Director Bill "Chief" Gayton, who has the first overall pick of the draft, and Indians Assistant General Manager John Mirabelli, who picks at No. 6, joined Jonathan Mayo on a special Draft Roundtable on MLB.com Radio. Over the next two days, MLB.com will provide highlights of that show.

Listen to the Draft Roundtable on MLB.com Radio

MLB.com Radio: Not long ago, the draft was shrouded in secrecy. Picks weren't announced live, you couldn't even find them published. For us here at MLB.com, the proliferation of information and coverage has been a good thing. Has it made your jobs easier, or has it made it easier because there's a lot more information out there to study. Chief, lets start with you since you have the No.1 pick in the draft.

Bill "Chief" Gayton: I'm not at all opposed to having the information out there for everybody. I think it's important that the correct information is available to the players and their families. We try to respect the wishes of the players, the families, the agents, and we rely on the agents to supply the families and the player with the accurate information. I don't have a problem at all, quite honestly.

John Mirabelli: I don't have a problem with it either. Any time you're providing educated, and what Chief said, accurate information, I think that's got to be a good thing. I think as it becomes more and more open, and people do become more educated, I think it will help us because people will be able to sort out the misinformation from the accurate information. When you were putting everything behind closed doors, that really put a lot of guesswork into it to the families and to the people out there.

MLB.com Radio: Is the biggest thing to safeguard against the misinformation that goes out there, especially with the internet? Have you found that weeding through all that, especially when it comes to talking with families and negotiating, has that been a more difficult task with the openness?

Mirabelli: The biggest roadblock you have is the build-up of expectations, these people who read too much into non-experts putting these guys up on a pedestal. You have to sort through that and lowering people's expectations isn't an easy thing to do, especially when they read about it and they get it from third parties. That's probably the biggest hurdle we have, managing the expectations of the people and what kind of information they're getting.

Gayton: I agree wholeheartedly. We go in and so often, there can be the 30 Major League clubs that like a particular player, yet nobody really sees him as a high selection. He's a nice player in a certain area and now he's received attention from all 30 clubs, so their expectations are raised.

MLB.com Radio: As we're getting close to the draft, how crazy is your schedule? I want to give people a sense of how much running around you guys do. How many players will you guys go see personally between now (April 27) and draft day?

Gayton: I have right now to date about 140 evaluations in the computer. I try to see as many of the top end selections as possible. We run out of time. You only have roughly 70 days to scout these kids and if they're pitchers, they're all pitching on the same day, on Friday if they're the ace on a college staff, Tuesdays if they're in high school. So you have a lot of decisions you have to make and you have to do a lot of directing. Right now, for instance, I've been driving for about an hour and fifteen minutes. I have another two and a half hours to drive. I'm right on the border of Alabama and Georgia. I 've got to get back up into Georgia late tonight, catch an early flight and I'll be up in the northern part of the country. It's a crazy lifestyle, it takes us away from our families, but it 's what we live for. We're out there and we get great satisfaction out of finding players and, ultimately, watching them in the big leagues.

MLB.com Radio: John, can you put an estimate on how many miles you might trek over the last six weeks to two months heading into the draft?

Mirabelli: That's tough. To put exact mileage on it, I really couldn't give you that precise (a number). I can give you a sense. Once you get to April, it's really almost a different place every day, a different bed. I had a 4:30 a.m. wake up call this morning, and I've got two and a half hours in front of me. We'll probably both do the same thing tomorrow. I'm probably half-way to platinum status I guess is the best way to put it.

MLB.com Radio: When do you guys start seeing a player a second or third time? How many times will you see a guy you're really high on? Because you guys are the directors, do you have to be careful about being too visible? If you keep showing up to see a guy, does that tip your hat to other teams?

Mirabelli: That's really not part of the equation with me, especially with the top guys. You've got to go where you've got to go. Most of the time, you do run out of time. The schedule, the pitching rotation really dictate where you're going. You really can't worry about what other people are thinking or where they see you at. Maybe on a lower, sleeper kind of guy, which there aren't many of those left anymore, you might be careful about when and where you show up, but we've all got places we've got to be, so you just go and deal with it.

MLB.com Radio: Chief, you guys have the No. 1 pick. How has having the No. 1 pick altered how you go about deciding where to go?

Gayton: It's been totally different for me. This is my 21st season. I've never worked quite like this. We select No. 1, then we don't have another pick until No. 72. There are a lot of players that you'd normally see that aren't going to be available to us with our third-round selection. It's not as easy as what you would think. You're scouting with what you're dealt. This year, there's not Mark Prior, there's not Joe Mauer, there's not ( Mark) Teixeira and some of the guys, for instance, from the 2001 draft, that were sitting on the top end. I've tried to set my schedule where I can get to certain kids. We have it whittled down to about 4 players right now, pitchers or players. We're hitting them real hard. It's likely going to be a college guy.

MLB.com Radio: You brought up a point I was going to address a little later on in terms of how close you guys are to deciding. Obviously, Chief, you've got the No. 1 pick, so you get to decide first. John, down at No. 6, without divulging who you guys are going to take, how close do you think you are to deciding?

Mirabelli: The process has been a little different for me, too, this year. In the past, I've felt I could get deeper into the draft, get multiple looks at a handful of players. This year, I've had to loop back and take more and more looks. To me, to be honest with you, at the six hole, it's not nearly as clearly defined as I was hoping it would be on April 28. I've got a group of six or eight guys that we like. They're all sort of lumped there together. Nobody's separated themselves out, so we're going through that process now. I thought I'd be further along at this and maybe have two or three choices at six, but I'm sort of scuffling right now with that.

MLB.com Radio: That being said, how do you balance not putting too much weight on what a guy does over these last six weeks with the scouting reports you've been collecting on these guys over a number of years?

Gayton: For me, we've identified the tools. We pretty much know who we've zeroed in on. What they can do and what they can't do. Where their ceiling probably is and where it's not going to take you. Of course, with the amount of money that's involved, performance does become a factor. However, you have to step back and ask yourself, 'We know what we have short term. What do we have long term?' This selection for us -- for anybody actually in the first round, but more importantly, with the No. 1 selection, we have to make sure we're making the right decision for the club and with the intent on impacting the organization for a long period of time, and not for a year, two years or three years. The intangibles play into this factor a lot for me this year than they would a little deeper simply because I'm waiting to see what falls to me so often. This year, we can control the draft. But again, I'm looking long term, as well as short term.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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