New kind of Draft. New person drafting.
When the Red Sox start rattling off names for four rounds of this week's Major League Baseball Amateur Draft it will obviously have an out-of-the-ordinary feel to it. Four picks. That's it.
Such is life in this new world of drafting, with baseball knocking down its event to five rounds with the Red Sox getting stripped of their second-round selection due to the 2018 cheating allegations.
It all makes deciphering Chaim Bloom's approach to drafting even more intriguing.
New amateur scouting director Paul Toboni has added one layer of a difference this time around. But it is Bloom who will have the final say in which players the Red Sox pick, bringing over philosophies and experience siphoned from his years helping build the Rays.
So, what is Bloom's modus operandi when it comes to this sort of thing?
"It's hard to say," said one MLB executive who has worked closely with drafts over the last 10-plus years. "He typically hasn't shied away from taking a toolset kid, or high-profile high school pitcher."
Go down the list of Tampa Bay picks and you can see that Bloom's tenure wasn't short on calculated risks, such as the aforementioned commitment to high-end high school arms. The latest example being the Sox' American League East rival taking prep pitcher Matthew Liberatore with the 16th overall pick. Still, there isn't any sort of definitive blueprint to be revealed when sifting through the Rays' picks over the last few years.
The only true way to understand where Bloom will be coming from when approaching his first draft with the Red Sox is to hear from the team's Chief Baseball Officer himself (via a conversation with WEEI.com):
Who has been some of your biggest influences when it comes to the Draft?
I was fortunate to work with tremendous people in my 15 drafts with the Rays – three different scouting directors (Tim Wilken, R.J. Harrison, Rob Metzler), all of whom are outstanding in their own ways. And even before that, my first entry into baseball was working for people like Chief Gayton and Kevin Towers, whose reputations are well-deserved. And that doesn’t even get into the outstanding scouts and evaluators who weren’t at the front of the room but had a huge impact on their organizations. The one thing I would say about all of them and the drafts that they led is that when they were at their best, they were bringing the best out of everyone else. They weren’t just good scouts but they were helping to lead a process that would put together all of the group’s opinions in the most productive way. They encouraged open dialogue and busted through the groupthink that at some point or other settles over every draft room. That type of leadership is something I really respect and believe in.
Do you have one or two key philosophies when it comes to the Draft?
Every player is different, and so is every draft – especially this one! So even though there are definitely going to be characteristics and tools that we value highly, it’s important not to be too rigid or dogmatic in what we’re looking for. At the end of the day our jobs are to maximize the talent that we bring into the organization, and we’re trying to sift through an enormous amount of information both subjective and objective to do that. I think we’re going to have the best results year in and year out if we can be really consistent in how we put that information together to make decisions. We all want to love the players that we select. It’s very important to make sure we’re doing that for the right reasons, and that we’re applying those reasons consistently to the whole player pool and challenging ourselves to make sure we’re asking the right questions on everyone we consider.
Has your view of approaching the Draft changed over the last few years?
If you’re not learning and evolving, you’re not doing your job. This is a hard game, and every year there are going to be players in whom we have really strong beliefs who still go out and fall short of what we expect. So if you don’t change your views in response to what you’ve learned then I think you’re just missing an opportunity to get better. Over the past few years, I’ve appreciated more and more that the most successful drafts aren’t necessarily the ones where you’re high-fiving after every pick because you got a player you love. Of course, you want things to fall your way but you can’t control who the other 29 clubs pick. So it’s on us to do a really good job building that board. That way, when it’s our turn to pick, we can feel really good about why we’re selecting the player and why he was our top choice in that moment. If we do that well, more often than not it’s going to lead to really good results. We always ask our players to focus on the process and to trust it. The same thing is true for us in the draft room."
The 2020 MLB Draft will begin on Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET and will be live on both MLB Network and ESPN.