MLBTR’s list of general manager candidates introduced 20 people who were identified by their peers as potential Major League GMs. We’ve been bringing you closer to the candidates with a series of pieces. Today the series continues with Logan White, the Dodgers’ assistant GM of scouting.
Logan White oversaw the selection of high-profile pitchers such as Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley and Kenley Jansen, so he knows a good arm when he sees one. And in retrospect, White acknowledges that his own big league prospects were slim when Mariners scout Jeff Malinoff recommended him in the 1984 draft.
“No disrespect to Jeff, I wouldn’t draft me,” White said.
Seattle selected White, then a right-handed pitcher out of Western New Mexico University, in the 23rd round. Three minor league seasons and one shoulder operation later, the former Academic All-American was teaching English and communications at the junior high level. But White returned to baseball as an associate scout with the Mariners before moving on to Baltimore and San Diego. He joined the Dodgers a decade ago and oversaw the selection of current players such as Matt Kemp, Russell Martin and James Loney.
White seeks out analysis beyond the traditional scouting report. He has researched pitching deliveries and the amateur draft to help the Dodgers obtain healthier, more productive players. Today, he oversees amateur and international scouting for the Dodgers as an assistant to GM Ned Colletti.
I spoke to him late in the regular season. Here are some highlights from our conversation:
On his start in scouting:
I don’t want to compare horses to people, but I grew up on a ranch in New Mexico. I grew up around agriculture and when I was in school we did horse judging - we would judge horses and we had to rank them. It sounds funny, but in the end I learned a lot about the gait of a horse and how the horse looked and worked and how the body worked. So there was always an interest for me to try to understand those kinds of things.
On what kind of scout he is:
I think that I’m a person who can understand the delivery, the arm action, the mechanics, how a body works, but also someone who can understand the mental side for the player. I think I was ahead of the curve in understanding that the player’s performance has to follow and I was always looking for backgrounds of success. I’m also a person that likes tools. I know in the game today, particularly in a large-market city like L.A., you have to draft impact players.
I like to think I’m a pretty open-minded evaluator. I’m hopefully not going to miss on David Eckstein and I certainly respect the importance of the kind player he is, but I also know that I can’t make a career out of looking for David Eckstein, because he’s pretty rare. I’m better off looking for Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez and not missing a David Eckstein.
On advanced analysis and traditional scouting:
If you play, you can get labeled as a ‘baseball guy’ who’s not a critical thinker. That’s not necessarily the case for me. I respect that side of what people try to do [advanced analytics]. I’m always open to ways to get better and I’m always a person that’s researching.
On development of his own analytical side:
I think most people, we go back to our life experiences, our educational backgrounds. I’ve always been one who wants to test and see if it works and I think it goes back to my background. When you’re raising cattle and horses and crops, making a living that way, certain things work and certain things don’t.
Some of what I do I call deductive reasoning and you have to have it. And you certainly have to have data and research [as well]. If you have deductive reasoning without research and data, it’s irrelevant.