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Article: Scouting with Sean Johnson

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#1 Jeremy Nygaard

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 05:36 PM

You can view the page at http://twinsdaily.co...th-Sean-Johnson

#2 Jim H

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 06:03 PM

Thank you for answering my question. So if I understand you correctly, the Twins haven't really changed their philosophy in the drafting of pitchers. It just so happened that the pitchers they liked best this year, were mostly relievers. Ok, I agree that getting an ace is either drafting early or getting lucky. It is also true that the power arms drafted by the Twins over the last 20 years haven't worked out very well.

#3 Jeremy Nygaard

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 06:15 PM

That's my understanding, yes, in the terms of that they relieved in college and won't necessarily be relievers in the pros

#4 mike wants wins

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 06:22 PM

Great Q&A...I may not agree with every decision, but the Twins seem more available lately. As a fan, that is appreciated. Thanks.

#5 Seth Stohs

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 06:53 PM

I thought it was a very fun read. I enjoyed behind-the-scenes view of the draft room and the process. It's fun to know.

The Twins have had a lot of picks come out of California. Hicks, Parmelee, Guardado, Harrison. Summers. Robertson. Plouffe.

#6 Thrylos

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 09:22 PM

Good stuff :) Very insightful including the total disregard of the Twins' organization about analytics in drafting...

and this was a hidden gem:

Since moving to Target Field it’s like we moved to Taj Mahal. We have a room with a projector. We can watch film. We have a place to make coffee and can bring some food in. It’s got air-conditioning. It’s not the biggest room in the world either, but it’s adequate. So we’ll have about ten of our scouts and Terry Ryan is there for the whole thing.


that's for the ones who thought that TR had nothing to do in the Bill Smith years... Glad to hear the truth from an insider.

#7 Seth Stohs

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 09:34 PM

Good stuff :) Very insightful including the total disregard of the Twins' organization about analytics in drafting...

and this was a hidden gem:



that's for the ones who thought that TR had nothing to do in the Bill Smith years... Glad to hear the truth from an insider.


I can't imagine analytics being terribly important in the scouting realm, and none of the questions asked anything about that topic. Also, I read the Terry Ryan comment as now that he's back as GM, he's there. I think it'd be reading too far into it to say that he and not Bill Smith was there in those years. Also, Ryan's role during the Smith years was scouting. He's said that. I don't know what more you want.

#8 Jeremy Nygaard

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 09:55 PM

I specifically didn't ask the analytics questions because we've all read/seen Moneyball and I didn't want to make it a compare/contrast real life vs the book/movie.

I'm not even going to comment on the GM thing.

#9 Twins Twerp

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 11:18 AM

Great read. He didn't dodge questions. Good time to be a scout with high picks in the past year and near future (next year more than likely too)

#10 wagwan

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 11:48 AM

Wait where did the projected lineups of all affiliates get posted? I must have missed it....

#11 dakotanative

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 12:42 PM

Excellent article. Being exposed to the inner working of scouting has always interested. I have coached numerous teams over the years from t-ball to high school to travel and the more a coach can be exposed to the way the pros think the better they can prepare their (high school and travel) kids to compete at the next level. Years ago we were at a travel tournament in Myrtle Beach, SC and had a break in the schedule so we took the team to see the local minor league team play. Well the game was the day before the MLB trading deadline and the stands were full of scouts. I had many informative conversations with these guys and so did my kids. I was hoping to run into a Twins scout, but no luck. These guys are the salt of the earth and Sean Johnson is very much like those I have met. Good luck in finding more jewels in the bushes.

#12 Jeremy Nygaard

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 01:04 PM

Wait where did the projected lineups of all affiliates get posted? I must have missed it....


It's been an ongoing discussion on the message boards since the end of last season.

You can see my projections here.

#13 jimbo92107

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 01:16 PM

Question for Sean Johnson: If a fan thinks he sees a promising HS player, is there a way to get video to a place where a Twins scout can see it? Would 30 seconds of medium resolution video be enough to make a quick judgment?

#14 Jeremy Nygaard

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 01:23 PM

I'll let you know, Jimbo.

#15 ashburyjohn

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 01:24 PM

Great interview, with credit to both interviewer and interviewee. As for the nugget that he and other scouts sometimes read here: I can't imagine ever writing a comment that would be worth their attention, so if by chance I get 10 seconds of their attention all I'll say is an echo of other sentiments here: thanks for your work, guys!

#16 gunnarthor

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 01:38 PM

Fun read, great work!

#17 Jeremy Nygaard

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 01:48 PM

Thanks guys. It was a lot of fun and, at least in my mind, something different, yet interesting.

Probably - ok, DEFINITELY - one of the least glamorous jobs in all in off sports, yet the future of every franchise depends entirely on it.

#18 twinkies3

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 02:06 PM

How about the sweet shout out to Seth Stohs! I love that the Twins actually keep their finger on the pulse of informed writers like the guys on this site. Awesome! it will be interesting to see what we get out of a draft class that Sean doesn't appear to be too impressed with.

#19 Jeremy Nygaard

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 02:40 PM

In response to thrylos, I talked to Sean to address your "gem".

Long story short, the draft is a big deal and the guys on top are going to be there. They are not making the call on picks, they employ people to do that. They aren't out scouting, so they're not going to step on toes. Scouts are on the road all year, spending the other 364 days thinking about "Draft Day", the guys on top are going to let them make decisions on the guys they've spent all year watching. Simple as that.

So regardless of who the GM was at that particular time, he wasn't calling the shots in the draft room, but he was present...

Edited by Jeremy Nygaard, 10 February 2013 - 02:45 PM.


#20 Thrylos

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 03:21 PM

In response to thrylos, I talked to Sean to address your "gem".

Long story short, the draft is a big deal and the guys on top are going to be there. They are not making the call on picks, they employ people to do that. They aren't out scouting, so they're not going to step on toes. Scouts are on the road all year, spending the other 364 days thinking about "Draft Day", the guys on top are going to let them make decisions on the guys they've spent all year watching. Simple as that.

So regardless of who the GM was at that particular time, he wasn't calling the shots in the draft room, but he was present...


Thanks for the clarification. So the decisions on who the Twins are drafting are made by Deron Johnson's group of scouts based of what they see without any sort of analytics input or projections. Correct?
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#21 Jeremy Nygaard

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 03:32 PM

Thanks for the clarification. So the decisions on who the Twins are drafting are made by Deron Johnson's group of scouts based of what they see without any sort of analytics input or projections. Correct?


It goes without saying, but ties are broken - at least on the West Coast - by the players WAR in the Area Code Games. Of course, you have to normalize this number based on both the years since the player hit puberty and the humidity level. It's a stat only the Twins use called WTF+.

#22 Seth Stohs

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 03:36 PM

Thanks for the clarification. So the decisions on who the Twins are drafting are made by Deron Johnson's group of scouts based of what they see without any sort of analytics input or projections. Correct?


What kind of analytics are you looking for in the drafting, Thrylos? Do you really care about the statistics of high school seniors, where every decent player hits over .400? Are you looking for college players with certain stats?

How did all those Moneyball draft picks do? Nick Swisher and Joe Blanton were guys that everyone was on... Teahen was OK for a few years. What do you want? I mean, aside from any reason to bash anything that this organization you claim to be a fan of does.

#23 ashburyjohn

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 03:41 PM

They are not making the call on picks, they employ people to do that. They aren't out scouting, so they're not going to step on toes.


I'm confident that someone like Terry Ryan is very sensitive to the fact that with his scouting background it would be very easy to be seen as running roughshod over the guys actually doing the work now - careful not to start too many comments with "well, back when *I* was scouting...". On the other hand, I still find it difficult to accept that there is no difference ("regardless of who"), in how draft day plays out when a Bill Smith is in the big chair versus when Terry Ryan is - Smith will certainly defer to exactly whatever his chief of scouting recommends, Ryan would by contrast... what? The discussion as the rankings are constructed the day before the draft would have to be colored in some way by his take on how to synthesize all the information into a strong and cohesive draft for that year, and as draft day itself unfolds I could imagine a glance across the room to Ryan, where even a shrug of the shoulders saying "use your judgement" means more than not even looking in Smith's direction to make each call.

#24 ashburyjohn

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 03:43 PM

It goes without saying, but ties are broken - at least on the West Coast - by the players WAR in the Area Code Games. Of course, you have to normalize this number based on both the years since the player hit puberty and the humidity level. It's a stat only the Twins use called WTF+.


+1. You win teh Internets.

#25 Jeremy Nygaard

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 04:11 PM

The discussion as the rankings are constructed the day before the draft would have to be colored in some way by his take on how to synthesize all the information into a strong and cohesive draft for that year, and as draft day itself unfolds I could imagine a glance across the room to Ryan, where even a shrug of the shoulders saying "use your judgement" means more than not even looking in Smith's direction to make each call.


I wouldn't doubt that at all.

#26 Jim H

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 04:54 PM

I always thought that part of the theory behind Moneyball was to draft college players because less scouting was required. Partly because their stats meant a little more than high school stats would, but also because college players would be a little closer to physical maturity so less projection would be needed when evaluating a player. Now I not sure what Thrylos' point in all this is, but I too have hard time seeing how analylic input would be very useful with high school players and even most college players.

As far as Ryan's part in this. I know he is a skilled scout. I doubt if he sees many or maybe not any of the drafted players. So I doubt if his input is very significant during the draft. He certainly evaluates players after they have joined the organization. There could easily be some pointed questions about why certain players were drafted at that point.

#27 Thrylos

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 05:20 PM

What kind of analytics are you looking for in the drafting, Thrylos? Do you really care about the statistics of high school seniors, where every decent player hits over .400? Are you looking for college players with certain stats?

How did all those Moneyball draft picks do? Nick Swisher and Joe Blanton were guys that everyone was on... Teahen was OK for a few years. What do you want? I mean, aside from any reason to bash anything that this organization you claim to be a fan of does.


I do not see where you see bashing in the statement you quoted. And because you are fan of an organization, does this mean that you have no right to not like the way this organization is run, especially given the fact that they have not won since 1991? Does being a fan means accepting everything they do? I think that the opposite is true. If you are a fan you want your team to win. And if they do not win you want changes, and are not ok with mediocrity. That's where you and I differ Seth. I want the Twins to win (As much as you do too) but I am not ok with them losing. And being ridiculed the last 2 seasons in baseball. So I want changes and I am not ok with the people who have been running my team (to the ground). Some "fans" are ok with whatever. I am not.

Back to the subject. One can project using college performance a lot, esp. analyzing performance vs. certain opponents. Major college level ball is probably close to A level competition and JC level is close to Rk level competition for good school. As someone can (and should) analyze MiLB performance beyond "ability to spin the ball", they can analyze College players. High Schoolers are somewhat of a different story because lots of them have not stopped growing yet.
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#28 Jim H

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 05:47 PM

Major college level ball is probably close to A level competition and JC level is close to Rk level competition for good school

.

I have seen this claim before. I really wonder how true it is. I believe I read recently that the average age in the Midwest League is about 22. That would be considerably older than the average age at any major college. On top of that most of players in A ball are either the best players from college or superior high school players who often have played pro ball for a year or two. What might be true is that the skill level at in major college conference is comparable to A ball. I doubt if the talent level is.

#29 Thrylos

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 06:03 PM

.
. What might be true is that the skill level at in major college conference is comparable to A ball. I doubt if the talent level is.


I was talking about the competition level, not exactly the talent. And if you look at the draft, some college teams (the best) have most of their draft-eligible players drafted even if in later rounds and usually start at high Rookie or A ball in most organizations. Fact is that A level ball has older high school draftees and foreign signees who were weeded out in the Rookie clubs, so the talent level is higher.
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#30 The Wise One

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 06:38 PM

Thyrlos could have a point if there was a large enough sample size of playing against the top talent in high school and college. Did the moneyball book talk of doing data analysis on college players? I would wonder because Beane has had better luck trading for players than drafting.