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Draft retrospect: Jack Zduriencik's drafts - Part 1: 2000

Ebert
on 11/04/2004

 

The 2000 draft marked a new beginning for the Brewers before most fans even realized it. While Dean Taylor didn't exactly leave a lasting impression on the Milwaukee faithful, he did oversee an effort to re-build the farm system; a system devoid of talent that regularly ranked towards the bottom of all Major League organizations. Under Sal Bando's direction, the Brewers suffered through several unsuccessful drafts littered with questionable picks that never panned out. If the Milwaukee Brewers were successful today, it likely would be because Bando and his support staff did a much better job stockpiling the system with talent. Unfortunately, that's not the case, although he did leave us with Geoff Jenkins, Ben Sheets, Ben Hendrickson and Bill Hall. Please feel free to review an earlier story covering the drafting efforts of both Sal Bando and Dean Taylor:

http://www.brewerfan.net/ViewArticle.do?articleId=117

Not many people knew the significance of Dean Taylor hiring scouting director Jack Zduriencik five years ago, but we certainly feel it now. Fives years after being hired, Jack Zduriencik has filled the system with talent using the draft, taking one of the worst farm systems in baseball to a number one overall ranking in regards to talent this past year according to Baseball America.

It is often said that you can't rate a draft for several years, therefore it is virtually impossible to accurately gauge how the players turn out. The summer following a draft and the following year it often looks as though the team may finally have struck gold with so many players drawing rave reviews. There's no way Dane Artman, Jon Steitz and Josh Murray could quickly fade away, right? All three of them had talent that deserved a better fate, but unfortunately that talent didn't translate into production. But, those three players all required a premium draft pick and signing bonus, in addition to the equally high expectations that followed. Such mistakes can make or break an organization. While Murray still is in the farm system, I think it's safe to say that his days are numbered if he doesn't start living up to his lofty expectations, and fortunately the success of others have made their struggles, and in some cases, complete failures, not as crucial.

I don't mean to place so much blame on players like Artman, Steitz or Murray, because it's not their individual fault. The draft still remains a "crap-shoot" in many regards, but there are ways teams can minimize mistakes by risk calculation. Ultimately most draft picks will never live up to expectations, and in some cases will never make it to the big leagues. The key is drafting strong prospects year after year, round after round. With every high profile draft "failure" you hope to have a sleeper that has risen above and beyond all expectations to produce at the big league level. The sleepers are just as much of a key in making a good farm system as the high profile picks, and they define the true ability of the scouting staff.

So what makes a good draft? Doug Melvin himself has said that developing two to three big league players indicates a good draft. Of course, the rankings aren't always that cut and dry. I think it's fair to say that the 1999 draft, which coincidentally was Bando's last as Brewers' GM, can easily be rated an "A" for Ben Sheets alone. Throw in Ben Hendrickson, who just made it to the big leagues this past season, and the

 




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