I thought you all might find this interesting. Contributor "Moonlight" sent a copy from an old 2003 chat Theo Epstein had on the great Sons of Sam Horn blog and it's remarkable how so much of it still holds true today. Unfortunately I don't have the exact link for the chat, so if anybody has it, please send it and I will gladly post it. For now, click here for the link to their main site. The following information is from their blog. The credit should all go to SOSH and I'm just re-organizing and relaying their information -- with a huge assist from "Moonlight", of course. Here are the key points...
On Player Development...
Our goal for player development and scouting is to develop a constant flow of impact talent through our farm system. Reaching this goal would have tremendous benefits:
1) We would have access to impact young talent for our major league club. Talented young players are more likely to stay healthy and are more likely to improve than older players, both good things.
2) We would have access to inexpensive young talent for our major league club, allowing us more resources with which to address our other needs.
3) We would have the solid organizational depth needed to address injuries and poor performance at the big league level.
4) We would have a surplus of prospects, allowing us more flexibility to address holes on the big league club through trades.
5) We would all have added pride in the Red Sox uniform, having developed our own major league talent from the bottom up.
One of the keys to unlocking a player's potential is helping him to control the strike zone. We will work long and hard to get the best out our minor league players and turn out as many prospects as possible. We will be not be afraid to try new methods, nor will we abandon proven methods. If there's someone out there who will help us develop a player, we will hire him. If there's something out there that will help us develop a player, we will buy it. Period. It's that important.
On the Draft
We make no secret about our belief that college players represent lower risks than high school players while offering comparable rewards. That said, we will not shy away from taking the right high school players, especially position players, in the appropriate round. In general, we want college players with tools, but we also want to find the college players who have good make-ups and those who have track records of consistent quality performance.
In an ideal world, we would love middle-of-the-diamond athletes who have plate discipline and power as well as power pitchers with pitchability, command and clean arm action.
On International Free Agency
With our emphasis on college players in the draft, we will rely on our international program to supply the best 17-year-old talent available... and lots of it. There is so much talent concentrated in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela that it is possible to get both quantity and quality at a reasonable price. (Scouting 17-year-olds is fairly imprecise, so volume is important). If you sign enough promising players, you'll find a Hanley Ramirez for $22,000...
When we talk about risk-aversion and prudent spending and $22,000 investments instead of $2,200,000 investments, the point isn't to be cheap or pocket the money. The point is to produce players and get value for our dollars where we can, so that when it's time to let it fly for the big investment at the top of the draft or the high-profile international stud, we have the money available.
On Stats and Scouting
For players in the rookie leagues and the lower levels, we focus more on traditional scoutings and tools. As the player rises through the minors, we shift our emphasis towards performance and statistical evaluation. When a player reaches AA, we balance these two schools of evaluation 50-50... and it more or less remains that way.
I can cop out and say the most important tool for a hitter is plate discipline. If you insist on one of the traditional five tools, my answer would be hitting and hitting for power.
For a pitcher, as far as tools go, we focus on command and arm strength. The real essence of a pitcher's ability cannot be expressed using just tools.