2012 Indians Draft: Q&A with John Mirabelli (Pt. 2)
Note: This piece would normally be a premium article but is being provided as a non-premium article today so fans can see everything Mirabelli has to say and also get a taste of the information provided in the premium pieces on the site.
This is a continuation from part one of my Q&A that I had with Indians Vice President of Scouting John Mirabelli on Thursday. If you missed the first part, just click on the hyperlink in the previous sentence.
In this part of the Q&A, we talk about the new CBA and the effect it had on the draft this year, the learning process the Indians went through with this new wrinkle in the draft, his son Tommy being drafted, and much more.
Q: This was the first draft under the new CBA that implemented the new bonus draft pool for all teams on picks in the first ten rounds. Now that this year’s draft is over, how much of an effect did it have on it?
John Mirabelli (JM): I think it had a huge impact on how teams conducted business. That was pretty apparent. We put our board together like we always do based on ability and talent, but as the process unfolded there were a lot of moving parts. You had to keep one eye on your board, but you also had to keep one eye on your budget. You had to constantly be aware of the overage and underage from pick to pick, and also the range and expectations of the players we were talking to and what we had left to apply from our pool. It was really a step by step process that a lot of people in our room were involved in this year. But I think it definitely had an impact. We are not going to lose a first round pick either intentionally or unintentionally. It was a different process where we really had to pay attention to that just like I am sure the other teams did as well.
Q: One thing that was noticeable was that more college seniors went in the top ten rounds this year. There is obviously some strategy with this was you can probably save a lot by signing them to an underslot bonus to cover overslot bonuses for other players draft in the first ten rounds or even later in the draft….yes?
JM: We had a pool of money and it is a finite budget. Pick to pick you have to figure out how you are going to fit that talent under your cap. We had [the new rules] in our hands since January, but if you really thought you could do it in advance you could not because in real-time it was very tricky. You did not know who was going to be there, who was not going to be there, what talent is going to be there, and how you are going to make the guys fit. It was not a premeditated thing. It was ‘okay, here is the next talent, what are his expectations and how do we make that work’ or ‘okay, we took player X and here is where we are in our budget and the numbers have been reduced to this’. It was a very tricky thing to do. We had to work within the parameters of the pool to get the kids signed.
Q: Has the bonus pool kind of ruined some of the creativity teams can have with their picks in the draft and just going after whomever and whatever they want?
JM: Absolutely. I don’t think there is any question the creativity has been lost in the draft. There is no use complaining about it as it is done and we have to do what we can to work within it, but if you talked to all 30 scouting directors I don’t think you will find anybody that says ‘I like this system, let’s keep it going’. No way.
Q: Having gone through the draft process now for the first time under the new bonus pool rules, I am sure you learned a few things, yes?
JM: Absolutely. We sat down as a group numerous times in the offseason. We even had some mock trial runs just to see how it would work, but it is just so different in real time because you don’t know how the other 29 teams are going to react or the answers you are going to get from an individual player. Our goal is to stay in our pool as we are not going to pay a tax and we are certainly not going to lose a first round pick. In real time and on the run we learned a lot.
Q: With the new system, how much do you have to know in advance about guys willing to sign? How hard is it to orchestrate talking to guys and knowing you can sign them during the time limits between picks?
JM: It is very difficult. We bring all of our area scouts into the room and we have already rehearsed with them to make some contact with their players the night before and tell their players that we are going to need a quick and immediate decision when we call them and to have their numbers handy. This is a juggling act with a lot of balls in the air. I feel like we were prepared, but you never know when you go through it. It was very challenging. We had a lot of people doing a lot of different things simultaneously talking to a lot of different people. We think we are in a good spot, but we gotta go get these guys in the top ten rounds signed for sure.
Q: What happens in “war room” during the draft? With so many things going on at once, it all comes down to preparation, yes?
JM: Everybody knows their role going into the draft. We have our leadership, our crosscheckers, and our supervisors. We are working off the board and we already know the signability, at least the parameters and range of it. Our board is in order of ability and talent, but next to each guy is a notation on what the expectations are ($$$). The good thing in our draft room is we can turn around to our areas scouts and get them to confirm if a guy can sign for X amount and then they will get them on the phone. There are a lot of moving parts and it is people doing their job in a very systematic process. It comes down to preparation with the scouts knowing the players and scouts having dialogue with the payers. It is a lot of preparation by a lot of different people, and it is a pretty interesting dynamic if you are just sitting there watching it. You can’t just wing it. I think preparation is the word I would use even more so in this new system.
Q: Now while all of this was going on Wednesday you found out your son Tommy was drafted by the Pirates in the 28th round. Even though you probably knew no matter what he was going to college at the University of Kansas, this still had to be a pretty great thrill for you, your son, and the rest of your family?
JM: I had been receiving some texts from Oakland and St. Louis and some other clubs that we knew had interest [in Tommy]. It sounded like he was going to be drafted by somebody. He has a pretty strong commitment to go play for the University of Kansas to play baseball, but we were all surprised. I did not have any inkling and it was neat to hear your son’s name called. It is a great honor. It was exciting and a different feeling. I am happy for him. He put a lot of work into it and he is committed to it.
Q: In addition to your son, another person in the organization had their son drafted when Voice of the Indians Tom Hamilton’s son Nick Hamilton was drafted by you guys in the 35th round out of Kent State. What do you like about him?
JM: He is a pretty interesting as he has overcome a lot and I think that tells you a lot about his makeup. I have known Hammy for a long time and I have seen Nick play. I think you are getting a kid with tremendous work ethic. He is not going to be afraid and he has overcome a lot to get to this point. He has made himself a better player and had a great year offensively and he has a little versatility. I know he wants to play and you never know how it will end up, but we look forward to getting him in the organization.
Q: Now that the draft is over obviously the focus will be on signing some of the players and doing some summer follows, but what do you and the rest of the scouting staff start to focus in on now?
JM: Our amateur guys will take a break and then jump right into the 2013 class. I know that sounds crazy, but it probably cranks up in about ten days. The showcase tournaments, Team USA, the summer leagues and Cape Cod all get ramped up here shortly. I will be more involved on the international end, and that is going to be even more of an unknown [than the draft] as nobody has an idea on how that is going to unfold. There has been a dead period where we have not been able to work any players out and will end here in a couple of weeks, so we will get involved right around the July 2nd week and do some workouts. That is going to be crazy, so I have no idea how that will play out.
Follow Tony and the Indians Baseball Insider on Twitter @TonyIBI. Also, his new book the 2014 Cleveland Indians Baseball Insider which profiles the Indians' Top 100 Prospects and more is available for sale.