Interview with St. Louis Cardinals Scouting Director Dan Kantrovitz


St. Louis Cardinals Scouting Director Dan Kantrovitz recently spoke with Redbird Rants.

Daniel Solzman: Dan, thanks for joining Redbird Rants today. How are things treating you in St. Louis?

Dan Kantrovitz: I’m a fan of and happy to help you guys out any way I can. Sorry it took me a couple days to get on this. Immediately after day 3 of the draft ended, I was literally in my office creating contracts and we were already starting negotiations. There has not been any downtime since. Up to this point, we have signed about 20 players and hope to have about 10-15 more in the fold shortly. When all is said and done, we should have roughly 35 players signed from this draft and we are pretty excited about that yield. It means our scouts did an excellent job assessing the signability of the players.

Daniel Solzman: You just finished your second draft as the Cardinals scouting director. How does it feel to have gotten that out of the way? When did the club start the process for the 2013 draft?

Dan Kantrovitz: It feels amazing! As I’m sure every scouting director does, I loved our draft and am very proud of it. But, more than anything, I felt like I was able to take some lessons learned and experiences gained from ’12 and apply them to this draft. Having the opportunity to learn the new CBA on a very complicated draft last year (because of our picks), it made this one feel easier in comparison when it came to managing the cap. Although, I should quickly add, that no draft is easy! Plus, having a full year to prepare for this draft and having the chance to see these guys over the summer was huge and felt like a luxury after starting in January last year. To answer your other question, we are already out looking at next year’s class…it never ends!

Daniel Solzman: Are you planning to take a breather before beginning to plan for the 2014 Draft?

Dan Kantrovitz: I’m not planning on a breather right now, but I will travel next week to evaluate our affiliates in State College and Johnson City with Mo. That’s about as close to a breather as I’ll take until the Fall.

Daniel Solzman: The Cardinals drafted two high school players in the first and second rounds in Rob Kaminsky and Oscar Mercado. Is signability going to be a problem? Speaking of which, did you realize that this is the third consecutive draft in which the Cardinals went with a high schooler in the second round after Charlie Tilson in 2011 and Carson Kelly in 2012?

Dan Kantrovitz: I don’t think signability is going to be a problem but when you consider both picks together, they were aggressive picks – aggressive in the sense that we anticipate our spend on day 1 to eat up more of our budget than would normally be associated with those pick values. So, going into Day 2, our strategy, and I feel very good about how it played out, was to save money where we could without sacrificing the talent we were getting. That’s obviously tricky and difficult to do but we felt the earlier we implemented that strategy, the better the returns were going to be. Then, we could still accrue a savings to make a run on Day 3 at some more high ceiling high school players. The one exception was Collymore. He was in our day 3 bucket (of high ceiling high school players – like Farinario, Bautista…) but we believed that he might get taken before we were able to get him on day 3 so we called an audible and made Malik our last pick on Day 2.

As far as the 3rd year of taking a high school player, I didn’t realize that until you mentioned it. But, I did learn a lot from Jeff and I’m sure some of our strategies and ways of thinking about the draft are similar. So, I guess it shouldn’t be that surprising.

Daniel Solzman: Your background is in analytics and statistics. Since you came to the Cardinals front office for a second time by way of the Oakland Athletics, do you subscribe to Billy Beane’s Moneyball theory?

Dan Kantrovitz: I think everybody defines “Moneyball” differently so I’ll try to answer that indirectly. But, the guys in the Oak FO that I worked closely with (Billy, David and Farhan) are some of the smartest people I have ever been around, not just in baseball but just in general and making smart business decisions. And, my interpretation of their style, and hopefully some of it rubbed off on me, was to not be afraid to make what might initially be unpopular or against the grain decisions if you truly believe the decision is best in the longer term.

Daniel Solzman: Going back to this year’s draft, were there any players that the Cardinals selected that you didn’t think would be around by that pick?

Dan Kantrovitz: Good question – I think we got very lucky that Marco, Rob and Oscar were all there with our 1st three picks. In my estimation, there was just as good a chance of them not being there.

Daniel Solzman: Several mock drafts had the Cardinals selecting Marco Gonzales but with the 28th pick instead of the 19th pick. What was the thought process behind taking Marco with the 19th pick?

Dan Kantrovitz: For us, he was the best player on the board…by far.

Daniel Solzman: When you went to Brown, how did it feel to end your career as the program leader for hits for both a single season and a career?

Dan Kantrovitz: I would not trade my experience at Brown for anything. And not being blessed with impressive physical tools, I am very proud how far I climbed in baseball. But, lets face it…I’m surrounded by and work with a lot of guys who reached the big leagues…so, any shred of a Brown record that I may hold kindof pales in comparison.

Daniel Solzman: Speaking of which, you played shortstop for Brown? How much of that was because of Ozzie Smith?

Dan Kantrovitz: Growing up, Ozzie was definitely an idol of mine…I still get star-struck when I see him. But, I don’t think Ozzie and Brown had much to do with each other.

Daniel Solzman: Do you get starstruck around the other Cardinal Hall of Famers?

Dan Kantrovitz: Yeah, I do…I still have autograph pictures of those guys hanging in my home. They are pretty remarkable people on top of being remarkable former players and do their best to put you at ease.

Daniel Solzman: Did you ever see Trouble with the Curve? If so, was there anything it got wrong when it comes to scouting players?

Dan Kantrovitz: As a matter of fact, I did see it….I don’t remember if there was anything wrong with it…what I remember is that it was a fun movie.

Daniel Solzman: Thanks again for joining us. Any final words for the best fans in baseball?

Dan Kantrovitz: We are trying our best and working as hard as possible to keep the prospects coming!