Logan White, the Dodgers‘ Vice President Of Amateur Scouting, was kind enough to give me 20 minutes of his time to talk about the farm system and draft.
If you want to hear White actually speak, check out the latest episode of “Dugout Blues“.
I looked at the draft this year and you kind of had a more college-focused approach this year. Is there any reason for that?
Logan White: I’ve always said that we try to take the best available player. I think when you go back years ago, a lot of teams were focusing in on solely college players, which did leave a lot of high school players in the past like in 2002 and (2003) when we took a lot of high school players that played in the big leagues. And I think now, the approach has been a little bit different. I think you’re seeing a lot more teams that didn’t take high school players at all taking high school players. Also, it depends where you’re picking in the draft; where you fall, which one gets to you. Would you take the high school player/pitcher or the college player/pitcher? It just depends on what’s there and what’s available. And this year, it just felt to us there were a lot of college players. I felt the high school draft, the way it felt to us, just wasn’t as strong as I’ve seen it in certain years.
Was Chris Anderson the top player on your board?
Yeah, he was one of our top guys.
Would you be willing to disclose who else may have been in consideration for No. 18?
You know, I really wouldn’t, just because other teams — who they took and how it affects them — I don’t ever want to say whether I like somebody’s pick or not. I always try to be respectful to my peers. So, I probably wouldn’t go that far. I can tell you Chris Anderson was one of the top guys on our board. In other words, if we had been picking sixth, we would have taken Anderson.
How was it to get Corey Seager last year?
Like I said, I’ve always been “try to take the best available player.” We were sweating that out. We weren’t sure he would get to us or not just as we were with Anderson this year. So, the last two years, I wasn’t sure the pick was going to get to us. But, I was doing cartwheels when Corey got to us because we had done a lot of work on him in the previous summer — seeing him and then going to that spring — we just felt, of all the players — high school, college, regardless — he had one of the best bats in the draft.
Are there any plans to promote Seager this season or will he finish the year in Low-A?
DeJon (Watson) and I have a good relationship and we work well together and stuff. We’re going to look at it — whether we move him or not. Our main focus is just to make sure he has a good first season and we’re not in any hurry. But, once we feel the player has achieved a certain level of success, we’re not afraid to move him.
Do you think he sticks at shortstop long-term?
You know what, I do. That’s why I drafted him there. Now, it’s kind of like “pick your poison.” Is he going to be a flashy, lateral, crazy-range guy with flash and flair? No, that’s not his style. But he has great hands and he’s going to catch what he gets to. He has a unique sense of timing. He’s a really smart guy, has a real awareness on the field. I think he’s going to be a really steady player and I think managers in the big leagues love having a guy who, when it’s hit to him, they know it’s an out. And that’s the guy he’ll be. Now, obviously, you’d have to have a crystal ball to know. If somehow we ended with an Omar Vizquel in the organization, yeah, then you would consider maybe moving Corey. At this time, I think Corey — I think we all feel — Corey can play shortstop and is gonna stay at shortstop.
I assume he’ll start with Rancho (Cucamonga) next year?
That may or may not happen. It just depends how far he progresses this year. He has the ability to move pretty quick.
So, maybe an outside shot at Chattanooga?
If he busts his tail, continues to progress — Rancho or Chatt — either one is a possibility.
Are there any prospects who caught your eye who aren’t widely known by the public?
There’s always guys like that. Last year, I did a thing for Baseball Prospectus. They were talking to me about — we had signed (Yasiel) Puig and everything else — and I told them, at the time — I gotta tell you about a guy that we signed on this trip named (Julio) Urias. I told people right after we signed him. There’s guys like that. There’s a player people don’t know much about yet. There’s a kid named (Jacob) Scavuzzo, high school player. (Joey) Curletta, some people know about. Those kids are going to come on and be pretty good players. They were high school signs, down-the-line signs, kind of in the (Scott) Van Slyke mold. They make take a little while, but I think Scavuzzo certainly opened up a lot of eyes because he’s a really good athlete and can do some things. He’s a guy that you’re going to see and go, “wow.” Everybody now sees that (Ross) Stripling — we’ve been telling people when we took him, Stripling is really good. And Stripling is definitely on the radar, he’s not far away in my opinion. He’s got a chance to pitch in the big leagues fairly soon because he’s got four pitches and knows how to compete, pitch. There’s also a kid named (Victor) Gonzalez that’s in Rookie-ball. We signed out of that same group (when) we saw Urias. He’s just 17, he’s left-handed and he’s got a chance to be pretty good down the road.
How impressed are you with Urias so far?
You know what, I’m gonna tell ya, I’m not as impressed at what he’s doing in the Midwest League as when I went and saw him in Mexico. I’m seeing a 15-year-old kid throw 90-93 (MPH) with a great delivery. That’s when I was really impressed. I’m going, “Oh my gosh.” I’ve never seen this in my years. A kid with that good arm action and delivery — so, I was really impressed at that moment. That’s why I mentioned him to people before he ever pitched a day in the states with us. Yeah, I’m impressed by it, but I know DeJon and I talked a lot about what we should do because he’s so young. But we were like, “You know what, we don’t want to hold him back. He’s got the ability, we’ll watch his innings and let’s send him in the Midwest League.” What I am impressed with is his English. He’s learning English really well, he’s fit in with the older kids and everything else. If you’re around him, certainly his mentality is a little advanced. He’d be a sophomore in high school.
He’s gained a lot of weight. He’s gotten a lot more physical, a little bit heavier since we signed him. I don’t know exactly how much he’s gained, but he’s gained quite a bit.
What’s the plan for Urias for next season? How will his workload increase?
It’ll be an incremental increase. We haven’t decided what that number will be, but it certainly won’t be 180 (innings).
Do you think there’s a chance he pitches in the majors before he turns 20?
Yes, absolutely I do for sure. I think that if he stays on the right track, stays healthy — and you hate putting those things on people because of the injury factor and too many things can happen in life — but I do think that the path he’s on, the stuff he has that, can he reach the major leagues before he’s 20 or by age 20? Yes.
How has the new Collective Bargaining Agreement made your job different?
It really hasn’t been that big a deal for us because since I’ve been here awhile, I’ve done it awhile, so I’ve got some experience at it. We were always working under the slot system, so to speak, anyway. So, I’m always cognizant of signability and who would sign, not sign and where we were at, and my scouts always did a great job of knowing who would sign and not sign. In my tenure here, we’ve had two guys, really — (Luke) Hochevar and a kid named (Cory) Van Allen in the third round — who haven’t signed. Outside of that, we’ve signed everyone. For us, it really wasn’t that big of a shift. For us, it was actually a welcome thing. I’m glad about it because I think it shifts back to good scouting, because now teams can’t just go out and put a lot of money on a guy and sign him. Having to be under this quasi-semi-slot system — slot system that wasn’t there but it was kinda where you couldn’t do it — it’s definitely a disadvantage. We took David Price and other guys out of high school when we really couldn’t do much. I mean, I’d have liked to have gone over slot on those kinds of guys. Obviously with our new ownership group and everything, sure. Would I love to have the free market the way it used to be? Yeah. But, I’ll take it the way it is. I think it’s worked out good, I think it’s part of the strategy. You have to be able to look at it, maximize your things and know what picks you’re going to take where and who you’re going to spend some money on. I get a kick out of it. I think people get worried because we’re getting close. “Oh my God, they’re going to lose their pick.” It ain’t gonna happen. Ain’t gonna happen.
Just to be funny — it’s not my money, so I would try to be as judicial with it as I can — but to be funny, I would have went right up to the dollar just so everybody could see. We have it down. I’m in the room (with) my staff. I mean, I keep track of it. As soon as I take the pick, I know what I gotta do where. The key to that is you have to take seniors that you know are going to sign. If you take a senior and he or the agent decides to be a little haywire on ya, then you can’t use their money — the money you were saving on that senior and that pick. That’s the part you gotta know.
White would go on to say off mic, but not off the record, a player from the 2013 draft class to keep an eye on is MJ Villegas, 23rd-rounder out of Seton Catholic High School in Arizona. Fun fact: White’s son, Logan Jr., will attend this high school starting next year (H/T Chris Jackson).