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General : : Crack The Bat
Building a Winner: An Inside Look
Patrick Ebert        
Published: Friday, November 19, 2010

New Page 1 Talent procurement is a favorite subject of mine in these columns, often spending time breaking down how certain teams are built, similar to how I did so with the Giants and their impressive pitching staff a couple of weeks ago.  This week I wanted to take a quick glance on how all eight of the playoff teams were assembled, from internal draft picks and international free agents to trade acquisitions and free agent signings.
 
Below I will break down each team’s 25-man playoff roster in alphabetical order, identifying by category how the team was put together.  The playoff rosters are represented at the final level each team advanced, and don’t take into consideration notable injured stars such as Justin Morneau and Chipper Jones.
 
Atlanta Braves
 
Original draftees: 5
International/amateur free agents: 2
Acquired via trade: 10
Free agents: 7
Waiver claims: 1
 
No other organizational breakdown surprised as much as the Braves, an organization long known and respected for its scouting and player development staffs.  The seven players completely procured and developed from within was tied with the Rangers for the fewest among the eight playoff teams.  Several members of the front office staff that made them successful for so long have moved on, but there is still plenty of talent on the field that remains, including budding superstar Jason Heyward, who finished second in the National League Rookie of the Year voting to fellow former Aflac All-American, fellow former East Cobb Astro and fellow native Georgian Buster Posey.
 
Cincinnati Reds
 
Original draftees: 8
International/amateur free agents: 4
Acquired via trade: 7
Free agents: 6
 
The Reds had more players completely procured from within than any other playoff team with 12, and that doesn’t include Mike Leake who was shut down in August due to shoulder fatigue.  That total number is largely due in thanks to the four international/amateur free agents, players that were signed and added directly to the system that either weren’t drafted (Ryan Hanigan) or weren’t subjected to the draft (Aroldis Chapman, Johnny Cueto, Juan Francisco).  Their international efforts, as well as their overall ability to develop pitching from within, has really turned around this franchise.  Joey Votto’s emergence as one of the game’s best hitters hasn’t hurt either.
 
Minnesota Twins
 
Original draftees: 10
International/amateur free agents: 1
Acquired via trade: 10
Free agents: 3
Waiver claims: 1
 
It’s no surprise that the Twins, long known for their ability to draft and develop from within, had 11 players on their playoff roster (which doesn’t included Justin Morneau as noted above) that were originally procured entirely within their own system.  The fact that their roster was only made up of three free agents is more astonishing, represented by Jim Thome, Orlando Hudson and Jason Repko.  Because the Twins have always been built this way, and are making themselves regulars in the playoffs, it’s hard to imagine their success to not continue.
 
New York Yankees
 
Original draftees: 6
International/amateur free agents: 4
Acquired via trade: 8
Free agents: 7
 
Yes, the Yankees spend a lot on free agents, but they typically sign the best free agents while continuing to complement their roster with players from within.  The 10 players procured from within the Yankees system is comparable to the other teams on this list, and is highlighted by future Hall of Famers Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera.  Jorge Posada and Robinson Cano offer further proof of success from both their native and international scouting efforts.  It should be noted that Andy Pettitte, who spent three years in Houston in between his two stints with the Yankees, was listed as a free agent acquisition and could technically improve the ‘original draftee’ number by one.
 
Philadelphia Phillies
 
Original draftees: 6
International/amateur free agents: 2
Acquired via trade: 6
Free agents: 9
Waiver claims: 1
Rule 5 draft: 1
 
Only the Giants had more free agent signees on their playoff roster than the Phillies, although they still boast some impressive homegrown talent.  Five of their six internally drafted players (Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Madson, Cole Hamels) have formed the core of the success this organization has enjoyed the past several years, and the other (Dominic Brown) represents the future.  This team has also dealt a wealth of young talent to acquire significant pieces to its starting rotation including Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt, as well as Cliff Lee from last year’s team.
 
San Francisco Giants
 
Original draftees: 9
International/amateur free agents: 1
Acquired via trade: 4
Free agents: 10
Waiver claims: 1
 
The Giants may have had the most free agent signees on their roster, but they also had 10 players that were procured entirely from within.  As I noted a couple of weeks ago, those efforts are highlighted by dominant, homegrown starting staff.  Should the Giants make the playoffs again next year, the free agent number is likely to remain high with quite a few players on their roster eligible to test the waters and change addresses this offseason.
 
Tampa Bay Rays
 
Original draftees: 10
Acquired via trade: 10
Free agents: 5
 
Simple stuff for the Rays, another team that has done a very good job developing talent from within, particularly when it comes to pitching, with a lot more talent on the way.  They have made several shrewd trades over the years as well, dealing some impressive talent along the way to help complement their roster.  The purse strings are tightening in Tampa this offseason, with several notable players poised to make big money with other teams (including the face of their franchise, Carl Crawford), which will put their organizational depth to the test heading into the 2012 season.
 
Texas Rangers
 
Original draftees: 7
Acquired via trade: 13
Free agents: 3
Waiver claims: 1
Rule 5 draft: 1
 
The Rangers’ relative lack of internally procured talent was somewhat surprising, as General Manager Jon Daniels has pulled the trigger on quite a few trades over the years.  These trades have not only moved prominent, big-name players such as Mark Teixeira in exchange for young talent (most notably Neftali Feliz and Elvis Andrus), but he also proved this past year to be willing and able to pull the trigger to move potential future stars (Justin Smoak and Blake Beaven) for proven stars (Cliff Lee).  The cupboards remain full in Texas, with many more players pushing their way toward the big leagues to help their newfound playoff success become more than a one-year wonder.
 

The thoughts and opinions listed here do not necessarily reflect those of Perfect Game USA.  Patrick Ebert is affiliated with both Perfect Game USA and 5 Tool Talk, and can be contacted via email at pebert@5tooltalk.com.