The Organization Man

Twins Director of Scouting Mike Radcliff herds the bird dogs and keeps the information flowing

The thing is, we don't throw anything away. There are certain rules of application you don't change. "Old dope" is the term we use for that and it can be very valuable. Terry will ask me any number of times through the course of the year, "Do you remember this guy out of that draft?" And it may have been a draft five, six, seven years ago.

CP:And is that kind of process standard operating procedure in major league baseball?

Radcliff: No, I don't think it is. I don't think every team, when they are going through the draft and putting their final list together, has the statistics from a player's previous summer in the Cape Cod League, Alaska League, Jayhawk League, all the summer leagues. We have them right there on the table to refer to, because we believe in as much information as possible. And that there is no information that is not applicable. We keep that information.

Courtesy of the Minnesota Twins

CP:Are there any other things that could be said to be the "Twins way" of finding and developing talent? Aside from the sheer volume of reports you produce, are you guys known for anything around the league?

Radcliff: I know where you are going with this—some teams won't draft anybody under six foot, or athleticism is the big thing, or good times in the sprints. So you are right, there are different things about different organizations. I think we probably focus more on pitch-ability and play-ability in how we set up our order of how we want to draft and so forth. By that I mean we want to go beyond just tools, because that is the basic [standard] that everybody uses, right? We all have specific requirements or desires on size and speed and velocity. But beyond that, we want to include command and control and presence for a pitcher, and include the ability to play a position and have instincts as a player. There are some other teams with us on this, but we probably emphasize makeup as much or more than anyone else.

CP:You mean character?

Radcliff: That is part of it. Different traits apply to different skills and different positions and we try to profile that accordingly. But Terry is big on having quality character guys in the system. In the end, that's one of the things that kills a player who comes along, and you're drafting them so young anyway, and especially internationally: They can end up falling by the wayside, not because they can't run and throw and pitch or whatever.

CP:But because they are homesick or pissed-off?

Radcliff: Exactly. And we do focus on that through the psychological test and through the home visits. We do a lot of analysis on character to try and separate out people.

CP:Do you have the resources you need to do the job? When the team gets a new ballpark, do you think your part of the money equation will beef up?

Radcliff: I don't know. You just make do. You have to make decisions along the way. There are comments all the time about how our owner is tight. The fact of the matter is that we are in the bottom third or whatever in [revenue] resources.

CP:One of the changes in your job over the years has probably been the increased importance of international scouting. Was it just a confluence of events or was it purposeful for the Twins to decide on Venezuela as a place you would concentrate your efforts?

Radcliff: It was definitely purposeful. We had an aggressive scout who was willing to take some risks and chances, so that was where we built our first academy. Now, just in the last two years, we have shifted our emphasis to the Dominican Republic and built a new academy there. We need to be productive there. It's the most productive baseball country in the world, and we've had minimal impact there.

CP:Particularly infielders, it seems.

Radcliff: Yeah, it's like they grow on trees down there or something. We need to get some [laughs]. And we haven't. But you say confluence; sometimes that's the case. I mean, the reason we have more Australians than any other organization is because we had a scout who lives there and we just happened to find that niche that nobody else was using. So we've done okay there. And that's what we'll do internationally, find some niches that nobody else is using.

CP:It seems that you did that in Venezuela, got in ahead of the curve.

Radcliff: Us and Houston, we were the early leaders. Now most everybody is there. Actually, in the last year it has become a little bit more of a scary situation because of the politics.

CP:Does a Santana help you recruit in a country like Venezuela where he is a native national hero and associated with the Twins, like Ichiro with Seattle and Japanese players?

Radcliff: We've talked about that, and we've been trying to figure out exactly how we might be able to use that to our advantage. They all have an agent or somebody speaking for them.

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