Randy Flores: “It’s competition. And it’s real stakes.”
While the Cardinals and Giants met in the rubber game of a three-game series on Sunday night, Cardinals scouting director Randy Flores spent about 10 minutes fielding questions about the upcoming First-Year Player Draft.
You’ll be able to find a Draft preview on Cardinals.com on Monday with more information about this year’s pool of prospects and the organization’s approach. In the meantime, here are some highlights from Flores’ question-and-answer session:
What is the scouting department’s schedule leading to the June 9-11 Draft?
“It’s adrenaline now. Our scouts just came in today, and all of them have that wide-eyed look where they’ve been up and working hard, but they’re ready to go. Today everyone is just traveling in. I was with our national crosscheckers [earlier], just connecting with them and laying out the expectations I have for our player discussion over the next couple of days. Tomorrow will be some preliminary exercises that we’ve created, kind of ranking specific groups of players. We’ll spend the next couple of days just talking about our big board and making sure that we leave no stone unturned.”
Will those meetings include mock drafts and simulations?
“Mock drafts, spot exercises, probing questions, whatever it is. One hundred percent. They’ve done it before. I believe in it. To put on the baseball, former player hat, it’s reps. The amount of time you’re comfortable slowing down something to play at game speed, that’s something you’re comfortable with.”
Is the structure of that preparation any different from the approach of previous scouting directors?
“It’s almost like coaching. There are only so many things that you can teach. There are new ways to message it and new ways to incorporate and execute it. And so I think I might be making some small changes, but certainly no one would go into the room that I’m leading and say, ‘Wow, this has never been done before.’”
Can you take a riskier approach early in the Draft since the organization has three of the top 34 picks?
“I think it’ll depend on the board. I think my job and the job of our department is to prep for all those scenarios. But certainly there might be a scenario that allows for us to use some creativity.”
How would you assess the talent that you’ve seen while scouting this spring?
“I know that I was brutal when I was in high school, so I compare everyone to me and it’s like, ‘Wow, everyone is really good.’ That’s because I threw 78 mph and had yet to grow any facial hair. But there are guys out there who have full beards and throw very hard or hit the ball very far. If we’re in a position to grab one of those players – collegiate or high school – I think, more than in years’ past, we’re able to do it.”
What was the most surprising thing you’ve learned in your first year going through this process?
“As a guy who was not a prospect, as a guy who was a senior-sign out of college, undrafted out of high school, parts of nine years in the minor leagues, I assumed that scouts hated me. They didn’t hate me. They didn’t hate players like me. They evaluated me. And so I was surprised and have just been thrilled to see the excitement that is on the faces of scouts when they talk about players. It’s easy to say that players are no good and they’re not going to get to the big leagues. That happens more often than not. What’s fun is seeing our scouts say, ‘See, this guys has this or he has that.’ [You] hear them advocate for the specific skill set that they’re looking into the future picturing him wearing the birds on the bat.”
How do you think your nerves on Draft night will compare to the nerves you had pitching in Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS?
“The cool thing is I bought a couple of rosin bags, so before the Draft I’ll be throwing the chalk on my hands. It’s the same feelings. It’s competition. And it’s real stakes. It matters to millions of Cardinals fans. It matters to my bosses. It brings a lot of that back.”
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