Despite trading away everything from last year’s top prospect group, AJ Preller’s cupboards are not bare. He won’t have the talent to make moves for Juan Soto or Josh Hader this summer, but Preller himself is an elite scout who has little trouble adding new waves of gifted young players every year. It’s a skill that builds itself out across time. Preller probably had good vision for the game as a young person, but as a long-time executive who makes more trips to the field than anybody, his eye has been honed the hard way: 10,000 hours at a time. Malcolm Gladwell, eat your heart out.
One way you know Preller is good is James Wood. Another is Jarlin Susana. How anyone else looked at these guys and said “meh, no thanks” is beyond me, but it’s a complicated game. You can’t just target giants and hope to thrive, but if you do see a giant who happens to move like a meta-human, trust your eyes and run, don’t walk, to add them to your squad.
This trust-your-eyes talent likely provides him an edge in building a scouting department, too. Talent or skill in a craft doesn’t always equate to skill at teaching that ability, but it’s certainly better than being clueless about scouting and then interfacing with a scouting director. All this is to say I spend a lot of time watching young Padres squads and give the team all the minutes I can find before publication day.Please, blog, may I have some more?