To learn about our efforts to improve the accessibility and usability of our website, please visit our Accessibility Information page. Skip to section navigation or Skip to main content
Below is an advertisement.
Loading...
Loading...
Loading...
Loading...
Loading...
Loading...
Loading...
Loading...
Loading...
Loading...
Loading...
Loading...
Loading...
Loading...
Loading...
Loading...
Loading...

News

Skip to main content
Open-door policy
Below is an advertisement.
06/04/2002 9:15 pm ET 
Open-door policy
Scouting director shares draft-day excitement
By Christine Destefano / MLB.com

Bill "Chief" Gayton, left, and Padres GM Kevin Towers discuss their first selection in this year's draft. (John Sandoval/MLB.com)
This is the third in a series of stories detailing what three people in baseball will go through as they prepare for the First-Year Player Draft. MLB.com will also profile high school pitching prospect Scott Kazmir and Pirates general manager Dave Littlefield.

SAN DIEGO -- Nhu Tran admits she was a little more excited than usual to get to work this morning.

As the community relations coordinator for the San Diego Padres, she usually is working on ways to promote the community involvement of the Padres.

But today she was one of several lucky Padres employees chosen to sit in the draft room and watch the selection of some future Padres she will probably be working with in the coming years.

"I saw the email that went around saying you could sign up to watch part of it, so I did," Tran said, "because you always hear about the draft and the dates and the work that goes into it, so I thought it was a great opportunity to watch it first hand."

2002 First-Year Player Draft
JUNE 4-5 | NEW YORK CITY
Draft order | Rules | FAQ

FULL COVERAGE:
Bullington goes first
Drafttracker
Complete Draft coverage

For the second year in a row, Padres scouting director Bill "Chief" Gayton has invited every interested Padres employee to stop by the draft room and watch the selections being made as part of making the entire front-office staff feel part of building the team.

"I want to emphasize and make them feel involved with what's happening at the Major League level," Gayton said. "I believe in allowing people to participate by watching a selection, to get a feel for what we do. I want them to feel the excitement, feel the competition, get a feel for what we do."

Mission accomplished.

"It is so intense in there!," said Tran, who was fortunate enough to see the club's first-round selection, Khalil Greene, from Clemson. "It was so fast-paced, completely different than any other sport's draft. Everyone was on the edge of their seat. It was cool to just see them react."

Assistant marketing director Angelica Ortiz was amazed at the different dynamics at work in the room, a small, windowless office located on the main floor of the executive offices, that is covered in wall-to-wall player rankings on magnets that are constantly updated and moved around as selections are made.

"It's interesting that there are so many heads working together in there," Ortiz says, "I'm amazed at how organized it is for the time limits they are working under."

Unlike other drafts, baseball's draft is a conference call held with the Commissioner's Office in New York and all 30 clubs, and clubs announce selections one after the other.

The 30 selections of the first round took less than 15 minutes this year. With the speed at which the rounds move, preparation is key.

"You can tell they are organized and know which players they want," Ortiz said. "And Chief is so excited because this is his big day. It gets us excited to see him so pumped up."

Gayton is excited the employees are so willing to step into their world, if only for one day a year.

"Most clubs don't feel like there should be anyone from outside in [the draft room]. I don't feel that way at all. When I come to work, I can feel good about sharing what our department is about."

"Most clubs don't feel like there should be anyone from outside in [the draft room]. I don't feel that way at all. When I come to work, I can feel good about sharing what our department is about."
-- Padres scouting director Bill "Chief" Gayton
The observers aren't considered distractions.

"This was all his idea," said assistant GM Fred Uhlman Jr. "He really wants to be inclusive to help the employees better know how baseball operations operates, to get an idea of how scouting and what the process entails." Corey Bystedt, who works in ticketing, says he will attend every draft he's allowed to.

"It's intense, you can see their minds spinning," he said. "But they have their system down. You can tell who they want before they pick and then it's cool to see them get excited when they get their guy."

A life-long Padres fan, Bystedt feels honored to be included in the team's big day.

"It would be like Ford inviting employees to be involved in a design and engineering meeting," he said. "It's probably not going to happen. I used to work for Motorola as an accountant, and that's just what I was -- an accountant, that's all I was involved in. Here I am a ticketing accountant, and I'm not involved in baseball operations, but they see that it's important to the organization and involve us. It really means a lot."

With more than a year's worth of work boiled down to two days of execution, a lot of planning goes into these two big days of the year. A fact not lost on the observers.

"There's not a whole lot of talking and chaos," Bystedt said, "It's not like a meeting where everyone talks about what they are supposed to do next. They already have the plan and they each have a role. There's smiles and there's frustrations in there, and it makes me want to learn even more."

That must please Gayton, whose infectious enthusiasm for scouting is spreading throughout the organization.

"I'm proud to see the club wants us to all be a part of the family. It means a lot as an employee."
-- Padres community relations coordinator, Nhu Tran
"People we work with love baseball and they love the organization they are employed by," Gayton said. "I want them to know that we see the importance of what they do and I want them to feel part of what we do -- and I want them to connect to baseball operations and see the system that ultimately gets these players to the big leagues."

The employees -- who ranged from the receptionist to administrative assistants to stadium operations employees to interns -- had the chance to watch the start of that process today, and were thankful for the opportunity.

"I'm proud to see the club wants us to all be a part of the family," Tran said. "It means a lot as an employee. Chief especially, since he is trying to develop our vocabulary and makes this a fun place to be. He's a teacher to us."

In the draft room, Gayton orchestrates the activities "almost like a stockbroker, with the way things are constantly changing," notes Uhlman.

"He wants everyone to be in the loop," Ortiz said, "to see that side of baseball. I am glad to get that glimpse, especially as a woman, where there maybe aren't that many windows for us. It gives us a taste of that side."

Christine Destefano is a reporter for MLB.com based in San Diego and can be reached at sms390@aol.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.





More Coverage
Related Links
Padres Headlines
• More Padres Headlines
MLB Headlines