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SoxProspects News

June 25, 2007 at 1:40 PM

Q&A with Jason McLeod

Red Sox Director of Amateur Scouting Jason McLeod was kind enough to take some time out of his extraordinarily busy schedule to answers some questions from SoxProspects.com. With signing season underway and raising a newborn, Jason is a very busy man this month. Special thanks for taking the time to answer some questions. Also, keep in mind that Jason could only answer in a limited fashion on some players who are still in negotiations to sign with the team.

SP: You played high school and junior college baseball in southern California , played two years in the Astros farm system, and did some coaching and front office work in the Padres system. How has this evolution helped you in your current role as the Director of Amateur Scouting for the Red Sox?
JM: It’s helped in that I’ve had exposure to many different aspects of the professional game. I’ve had a chance to taste the lower levels of minor league baseball so I can relate to what a parents and kids are going through when mulling a decision to go away from home as an 18 year old. Coming from California, you have the opportunity to see very good ballplayers in an environment that is conducive to playing 12 months out of the year - so you get more looks on kids, which brings added experience. I am grateful for the 10 years I spent with the Padres in a variety of roles as it really let me mature and understand the nuances of professional baseball, both from a development and scouting standpoint. I’ve taken a lot of what I learned there and applied it to how I go about my business to this day.

SP: What is a typical day like in your position? How does it differentiate between the off-season and draft time?

JM: Well, during the draft scouting season it’s fast paced with a lot of travel, report writing, phone calls, and travel arrangements to make. Being the only sport that has their draft during the season (not only the MLB season, but college and some high school seasons as well), it makes for a lot of logistical challenges. Scheduling is an incredibly important part of the job and you’d be amazed at how much time you spend looking for flights, hotels, and weather information! The off season (Oct – Jan) allows you to slow down and recharge somewhat. There are still administrative items to take care of and certain scouting coverages, but with the pace of the Draft season, it certainly feels good to slow it down some.

SP: When you’re out in the field scouting, what particular attributes do you look for in a player beyond the obvious?
JM: With the obvious being tools and raw physical ability, you look for how a player can apply those tools/ability between the lines once the game starts, and ask yourself questions like - how it easy does it come for him? Can he use the ability he has?

SP: Going in to the 2007 draft, did you have a general strategy set forth in regards to the types of players you wanted to draft? Did the team have any inclination of going high school v. college? Pitcher v. position player?
JM: Sorry for the standard answer, but when you select at 55/62 as your first picks, you are simply looking to take the best players and choose those you feel can have the most impact on your organization. That was our strategy with all the players we selected this year.

SP: 2007 Red Sox draftee Nick Hagadone looks like he has a mean fastball. What else particularly impressed you about Hagadone? If signed, do you see him working out of the bullpen or as a starter initially?
JM: Nick is a big strong athletic kid who would flash two plus pitches at any given time. We will most likely start him in the rotation when he goes out.

SP: Ryan Dent looks like he has tremendous upside. Have there been any indications of what position he might play if signed?
JM: We’re drafting Ryan as a shortstop and he’ll have the opportunity to play there when he goes out. He’s certainly athletic enough to play other positions as well.

SP: How does Hunter Morris’s raw power and tools compare to a player such as Aaron Bates?
JM: Different circumstances being that Hunter is 18 and Aaron is 22. Hunter is a left handed power bat while Aaron is right handed. We like both and wouldn’t mind seeing them hitting back to back in a ML lineup some time in the near future.

SP: Chris Province ’s stats were necessarily dominant at SE Louisiana , but he appears to have a nice fastball and a good pitcher’s build. What else about Province caught your eye enough to make him a fourth round selection?
JM: We had good reports on him from our area scout, Danny Watkins, as well as from our regional cross-checker (Mark Wasinger) and pitching cross-checker (Darryl Milne). Add to that the fact he can power his fastball downhill in the low to mid 90’s with hard sink and we felt it was a good selection where we took him.

SP: Will Middlebrooks seems to have limitless potential. If he signs, will it be a tough decision to use him in the field rather than as a pitcher?
JM: Will is a gifted athlete who could have a career either way in professional baseball.

SP: 8th round pick Adam Mills absolutely dominated the competition in college, but his “stuff” apparently isn’t as overpowering as many other pitchers. What attributes allowed Mills to dominate college hitters, and do you think those attributes carry over well to the professional ranks?
: Adam pounds the lower half of the strike zone and stays out of the middle of the plate. He can mix pitches and land strikes on a consistent basis. He’s coming off an incredible collegiate season and will be tested at the professional level. We like the fact he can throw strikes with multiple pitches and work at the knees consistently.

SP: From some scouting reports, Yasmani Grandal was the highest-regarded player selected by the Red Sox in the 2007 draft. What are Grandal’s best assets, and what makes him such a highly regarded player?
: Yasmani is a solid defensive player with very good makeup. He struggled a little with the bat this spring and is probably why he was available at that point in the draft where we took him.

SP: We’ve heard varying reports that the money slotted for Roger Clemens earlier this season could be re-invested in inking the “tough signs” such as Grandal, Middlebrooks, Grimm, Cowan, Green, Bailey, and Tepesch. Is there truth to this? Is there anything you can share on the signing negotiations with these players?
: I wouldn’t believe what you read about “varying reports”. As far as we’re concerned, we have until August 15th to sign any of the players we drafted and we’ll give consideration to them. Most of these kids have great opportunities to play collegiate ball and I would guess some will decide to go that route.

SP: In terms of general strategy, with the elimination of DFEs, are the selections in the late rounds now more about finding “sleepers” or about filling positional needs at the lower level affiliates? Following up on that, if two late round players are selected at the same position, do situations develop where he team is likely to only sign one or the other, creating an incentive for the player to sign as soon as possible?
JM: There are certainly times you select a guy or two later in the draft because you need to fill out spots at Lowell or the GCL. For the most part, we’re looking for players at all areas of the draft we feel have a chance to become prospects.

SP: If even some of top selections do indeed sign, the GCL team will seemingly be loaded with talent from the draft and the international players – so much so that it could get tough for all of those players to get regular playing time. Approximately 20 teams have two rookie level affiliates - have there ever been any discussions about the Red Sox adding a second Rookie level team any time in the near future?
JM: Not to my knowledge - but it would be a nice problem to have if we had too much talent down there!

SP: How has the new “universal signing deadline” changed the team’s ability to sign players? Will you get to take a vacation after August 15, or will you hop right into scouting for the 2008 draft?
JM: We’ve already began preparing for the 2008 Draft with the summer collegiate leagues under way and certain high school showcase events taking place. I’m not sure the August 15th deadline will change signings all that much, other than it gives both the player and the club a hard date in which an agreement must be made. If a kid wants to play professionally and take the great opportunity being afforded him, then he’ll sign. I like that it (Aug 15th date) does eliminate the player who doesn’t enroll in the fall, strings it out in the spring, threatens independent ball, etc. At least now there will be some resolution come Aug 15h. He’s either signed or he’s back in next years Draft (assuming he’s a college junior or attending a junior college).