Ladnier discusses approach to Draft
Royals senior director of scouting answers fans' questions
Ladnier: Thanks for joining me this afternoon. Let's begin.
lh_bret: How much influence does Trey Hillman have in regards to certain things to look for?
Ladnier: We are all looking for the most complete talent that we can find. A combination of character, tools and skills. Hopefully we can teach them through our Minor League system to be winners at the Major League level.
josh_frost: How do you guys keep track of those 1,500-some players in the First-Year Player Draft?
Ladnier: We have three national supervisors, three regional supervisors and 22 area supervisors who are continually staying on top of the best talent available. They submit reports, many times numerous reports on the same player.
Ladnier: It's my job to utilize that information to line up our Draft board and preferential order.
longmatt: Kila Kaaihue has seemingly emerged out of nowhere to establish himself as a prospect. What is the organization's view of his abilities and future?
Ladnier: Kaaihue has always been a player that we felt would hit for power based on his raw power and plate discpline. It has taken him a little more time to build confidence in his abilities, but we really feel this year that he is having a breakthrough season.
kilsey: The Royals have several great young hitters in David DeJesus, Alex Gordon, and Billy Butler -- is there going to be an emphasis on building up the pitching staff to match?
Ladnier: There is always emphasis on both, and in our last two Drafts we have focused on acquiring some of the best arms available. That being said, most premium bats go early in the Draft so if you do not take them high, you usually lose them.
gshirron: So let's get the big question that everyone wants to know out of the way. Will we sign Eric Hosmer and Timothy Melville?
Ladnier: We certainly selected both players with every intent of being able to sign both of them. It is a process that will continue to go on and we feel confident that both of them will be in a Royals uniform at some particular time.
smsroyal: Did we draft more high school players because we feel we have a good or equal quality of players in our farm system?
Ladnier: Our Minor League system has been designed to handle young players. We feel that getting them at a young age we can develop their skills to be a professional baseball player with the type of instructors and day-to-day influence we have on a young prospect.
2009alcs: Many of the best players in the Majors are guys that were undrafted from countries like the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Venezuela, etc. Besides Burgos I can't think of many guys that have gone this route for the Royals. What are we doing to get more of these guys?
Ladnier: We hired Rene Francisco to be our director of international operations. We built a brand new state of the art academy outside of Santa Domingo. I know that we are being very aggressive in pursuing the best talent from all of the Latin American countries.
Ladnier: Understanding that they are signed at 16 and 17 years of age, it will take time for them to develop into Major League talent but we have made major strides in that area.
gabby_06: Does it get discouraging when fans are only "fair weather?"
Ladnier: It is not discouraging, but understandable. We, as well as the fans, want a consistent winner and we will stop at nothing to provide that for all. Better days are definitely ahead.
Royals' top five selections
|3.||1B||Eric Hosmer||American Heritage Sch. (Fla.)|
|36.||LHP||Michael Montgomery||Hart HS (Calif.)|
|49.||2B||Johnny Giavotella||U of New Orleans|
|80.||RHP||Tyler Sample||J.K. Mullen Prep|
|115.||RHP||Timothy Melville||Wentzville Holt HS (Mo.)|
|Complete Royals Draft results >|
oroyals19: When you are first scouting a player, are you already taking clubhouse balance -- leadership qualities and attitude -- into consideration?
Ladnier: Those are as important to us as the physical skills and tools. We have to know that a player wants to be a winner and will do everything they possibly can to reach their maximum potential. That is the most difficult aspect of any scouting endeavor and requires a great commitment by the scout involved.
sleekroyal: Who, in your opinion, is our highest upside hitter and our highest upside pitcher?
Ladnier: That is a difficult question as we have a few, but Daniel Cortes and Mike Moustakas come to mind initially.
lh_bret: Is there an age minimum you'll scout? I know of a couple freshman in high school here in Texas that already have had multiple scouts at their games.
Ladnier: Please send me their names as it is important to begin the scouting process at a young age. Watching a prospect develop over time allows us to make better decisions.
2009alcs: I'm confused why we drafted so many high school guys this year. We seem very close to having a breakout as a team, by the time our drafted guys develop all of our current players will be in their final arbitration years and some already free agents.
Ladnier: We did not necessarily set out to draft high school players. We certainly value the college players also. As the Draft unfolds, we simply take the best talent in each round and it happened to be high school players.
bornin85: Are there enough quality pitching prospects in our system that we would feel comfortable trading away some of them, or is pitching still seen as something that needs to continue to be built up?
Ladnier: An organization can never get enough pitching prospects for depth. We will continue to stockpile good arms so that we can have depth at every level in our Minor League system. Pitching is the greatest commodity in baseball.
JTROYALS: Tell us about the player we drafted in Ryan Curl.
Ladnier: He is a highly tooled athlete that we understood would take some time with the bat. He can play defense now and really run. If we can sign him, and we are trying, we would probably make him a switch hitter. We'll follow him closely over the summer.
kilsey: What's the most important characteristic that you look for when evaluating a young hitter?
Ladnier: Balance, bat speed, hand strength and ability to consistently make hard contact.
oroyals19: This group in K.C. now has me hopeful for the future. Are the Royals committed to a core group of three to five pitchers and position players long term? The trading deadline has been continually depressing the last five years.
Ladnier: We are committed to doing everything we can to maintain a core of pitchers and position players at the Major League level. We always have to be aware of potential trades that could make our Major League club better now, and in the future. We do like what we are seeing in our young players at the Major League level as they continue to mature.
lgroyal: Was Mike Aviles one of the college seniors the Royals reportedly drafted after the fifth round and offered a $1,000 signing bonus? If yes, congratulations on getting a Major League player despite the criticism that the strategy has received.
Ladnier: Yes, Aviles was one of those players, but I believe he was a seventh-round pick. Mike has continued to develop year after year through his hard work and determination. It is truly a credit to his character and to tenacity. We are all very proud of him.
kgharryman: I noticed Mike Moustakas has been coming along after a rough start, which is expected at this point. When do you see him jumping to Wilmington?
Ladnier: It is important to remember that Moustakas is a 19-year-old playing in the Midwest League. Maybe one of the youngest players in the league. We knew that he would go through some struggles, which is a good thing. It has forced him to make slight adjustments, and now we are beginning to see a maturing process as a future productive Major League hitter.
Ladnier: I believe Moustakas will spend the rest of the year in Burlington and finish on a strong note going into instructional league. We are very pleased in what we are seeing.
JTROYALS: Tell us about Jason Esposito and our chances of signing him.
Ladnier: As with any pick, we are certainly determined to sign all players. We understood when we selected him that it would take some time. We will continue negotiations throughout the summer.
JTROYALS: Do you think the Eric Hosmer signing will go down to the last minute?
Ladnier: If history truly repeats itself, then I would say yes.
dennyfan: How did you feel about watching Art Stewart, once the director of scouting for the Royals, get inducted into the Royals Hall of Fame this past Saturday? Do you hope to see more MLB teams follow this trend of honoring scouts and player development?
Ladnier: I consider Art Stewart to be a great mentor and better friend. It was one of the proudest moments of my professional career to watch someone that I have such regards for be recognized for a lifetime commitment to the scouting profession. He is truly an ambassador of baseball for the Royals. Great question.
Ladnier: I know that the scouting community is doing everything it possibly can to recognize those who have given their lives to each organization to scout and sign the best talent for their team. The time is no greater than now for this movement to move to the next level.
lgroyal: Have you and your staff began preparing for the Draft next year? If so, in what way?
Ladnier: The day after the Draft all of our scouts began a busy schedule preparing for the next year's Draft. They all have assignments at various showcases and summer collegiate leagues. As we speak we continue to get follow reports for next year's Draft. The process never stops.
lgroyal: Could you describe, in general, the negotiation process with drafted players? Is it different from one player to the next?
Ladnier: In general, I start the process with a telephone call to their adviser. Parameters are usually set and professional communication about the player's ability and demands financially. Almost every player is a different type of negotiation.
kcroyals88: I have had a passionate desire to pursue the world of scouting. Where would you recommend me to start? Do MLB teams take interns?
Ladnier: First, I would recommend going to games and getting to know local scouts, build relationships and have that scout recommend that you be considered for Major League Baseball's Scout School. Each team usually sends several to Arizona for this event every September.
revive__85: As the director of scouting, do you spend most of your time in Kansas City or are you on the road like all of the organization's scouts?
Ladnier: A combination of both. There are many things administratively that have to be dealt with from my office in Kansas City. In the spring, I spend endless days on the road looking at talent that our scouts have recommended. During the summer, I see our Minor League clubs and various showcases. During the winter, I spend many days in Latin America. So I guess you could say it is a combination of both.
sleekroyal: Do you think that Aviles is going to stick at shortstop, or is he likely to be moved to second base?
Ladnier: He certainly has not hurt his chances of being an every day Major League shortstop. Aviles has played various positions throughout his Minor League development which allows him to be very versatile. I feel confident that he is comfortable at either position.
revive__85: Do you think MLB will ever expand the Draft to include players from Japan, the Dominican, etc.?
Ladnier: There is a strong sentiment to do so, but there are many obstacles to overcome before we can move forward with that idea. I believe all people in baseball will always be open to ways to improve talent acquisition.
sleekroyal: Who has the highest potential, Dan Cortes or Carlos Rosa?
Ladnier: I believe both of these young players have similar ability and over time they will reach their maximum potential.
josh_frost: Do you see any big differences in talent between players straight from high school and those from college? Will there ever be an NBA-style rule requiring college for baseball players?
Ladnier: The biggest difference is the physical and mental maturity levels. The college players' skills are usually ahead of the high school players. Many times the high school player's physical tools are ahead of the college player, especially higher in the Draft.
Ladnier: I have not heard of anyone saying we are moving in that direction.
lh_bret: How many Royals scouts cover Texas?
Ladnier: We have one area supervisor, one part-time scout and one of our regional supervisors lives in Texas, so technically three.
Ladnier: Thank you for all the great questions so far. We have time for just a few more.
royalsdv: What is the most unusual experience in scouting a player you've ever had? The Kansas City Star had a great story about how Joakim Soria was scouted.
Ladnier: A memorable experience was trying to sign a player in Venezuela and sitting with the family with an interpreter, having dinner and not being sure what was for dinner. I ate it and still to this day do not know what it was, but we did sign the player.
gshirron: I am very intrigued by the second baseman we drafted out of University of New Orleans. He seems like he is very hard-nosed and is a hard worker. What can you tell us about him?
Ladnier: You got it right, hard-nosed baseball player who will stop at nothing to win a game. Good tools, good skills and we consider someone who will rapidly move through the system.
lgroyal: Is your scouting limited to potential Draft picks or are you responsible for scouting players in other organizations also?
Ladnier: My job is to do whatever the general manager tells me to do. If it means scouting a Major League or Minor League player that is what I will do. That job is usually left up to our professional scouting staff.
oroyals19: Why don't we see any more 100 stolen base guys in MLB anymore? Quicker catchers, or a change in game strategy?
Ladnier: I believe the game has evolved into more offense, and the art of stealing bases seems to have taken a backseat to offensive production. I agree with your statement. We have tried to draft exceptional speed in the last two Drafts to break that trend.
sleekroyal: Is Joseph Dickerson our best OF prospect?
Ladnier: He certainly is one of our better outfield prospects. Derrick Robinson has the same type of prospect status or better.
Ladnier: Thank you for joining me today. I appreciate all the questions, and we will continue to work hard to acquire the best talent available.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.