A's confident in Day 2 additions
Scouting director Kubota excited as Draft draws to a close
OAKLAND -- The combination of collegiate players and pitchers usually represents the dominant theme of A's Draft picks each year. But perhaps even more consistent than those two trends is the feeling Eric Kubota gets every June after the final selection is made.
"I think we always say we loved it," the A's scouting director said by phone just minutes after the last pick. "And this year, we loved it again. We're very excited."
Kubota and the Oakland organization have much to be excited about, as they left the 2008 First-Year Player Draft on Friday with 50 prospects to join their already booming farm system.
After taking six collegiate players in the first six rounds on Day 1, the A's snagged 31 more college players the second day while taking 13 high schoolers.
With their first pick coming in the seventh round Friday, Oakland drafted right-handed pitcher Brett Hunter out of Pepperdine University. As a junior, the preseason first-team All-American appeared in just five games for the Waves in 2008, compiling a 1-0 record and a 3.38 ERA while fanning 19 batters in 18 2/3 innings pitched. The starter didn't see much time on the mound due to injury, but Kubota said the A's are well aware of his talent when healthy.
"If he ends up being healthy, he'll be a great bargain," Kubota said. "He's got a premium arm and was one of the premium picks in the Draft, and we took him understanding he's not fully healthy right now."
Following Hunter, it didn't take long for the A's to grab Rashun Dixon, who was their 10th pick and first from the high school ranks.
The 6-foot-4, 255-pound senior out of Terry High School in Terry, Miss., produced a .530 batting average, 57 RBIs, 53 runs scored and 13 home runs this season, leading his team to the Class 5A state semifinals. Named the Gatorade Mississippi Baseball Player of the Year last week, Dixon produced a 1.096 slugging percentage and a .643 on-base percentage.
A's top five selections
|12.||2B||Jemile Weeks||U of Miami|
|58.||RHP||Tyson Ross||UC Berkeley|
|90.||C||Preston Paramore||Arizona St U|
|124.||LHP||Anthony Capra||Wichita St U|
|154.||SS||Jason Christian||U of Michigan|
|Complete A's Draft results >|
In the next 26 rounds, Oakland took a chance on just four prep players before drafting eight of their last 14 picks from high school. Out of the 50 draftees, 26 (20 righties and six southpaws) are pitchers -- a high but rather common number for the A's.
"Pitching is obviously very important to this organization," Kubota said. "Most of our pitching choices are based on scouting reports and basic projections, but a lot of times we'll look at where we need certain pitchers in our farm system."
Kubota is no stranger to Oakland's scouting efforts, as he has overseen the club's last six Drafts that have produced 17 players who have found their way to the Majors, including Joe Blanton, Huston Street and Travis Buck. His talents as Oakland's main scavenger for young prospects have helped assemble the majority of the A's Minor League system that has combined for a .527 winning percentage over the last six seasons, which is the third best combined record of all the Major League affiliates.
Aside from pitchers, which accounted for just over half their picks, Kubota and the A's landed eight outfielders, three catchers and 13 infielders -- including four second basemen and four shortstops.
"We got four second basemen?" Kubota questioned with a laugh. "Well you know, the position they're playing now isn't necessarily the position they'll end up playing. Part of what we do is just look at the best quality players."
Kubota was hesitant to make projections of a timetable for any of the Draft picks' debuts in The Show, but he was sure of one thing.
"I don't think any of them will be here super soon," he said. "But we'll do our best to get them up as quickly as we can."
Jane Lee is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.