Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Thoughts from Garth Lagerwey: Part III – MLS Draft

This is the third segment of a 5-part series with thoughts from Real Salt Lake General Manager Garth Lagerwey.

I wanted to get his thoughts on the following topics:

Here is part 3:

The upcoming draft on January 14th will mark Garth Lagerwey’s third at the helm of the club. Each year, he’s seen the club move back further in the draft. In 2008, Lagerwey and team selected Tony Beltran at the #3 overall spot. They also grabbed David Horst and Alex Nimo at spots #14 & #17. Last year they had a late first rounder, and selected Jean Alexandre at #12, while finding a potential steal in the fourth round with the pick of Raphael Cox at #54. This year, they will find themselves picking last (#16), and Lagerwey seems realistic about the prospects,

“For sure picking 16, we are looking at best player available. We aren’t looking at the draft as something that’s going to make us better next year.”

Last year the team did not have 2nd or 3rd round picks, but had an additional 4th round pick. This year they have their normal allotment of picks, with one exception,

“We have a first, a second, and a fourth, but no third because that went to New York for Dema Kovalenko.”

The players available for the draft are not fully set yet, and because of this Lagerwey doesn’t yet have a firm grasp on who they might be looking at,

“However, until you know college senior signings and generation adidas signings, you aren’t even going to have a ballpark of who you are looking at with #16. To be honest we’re more focused on contract negotiations and foreign signings at the moment.”

I would look for the team to add the player that they believe may have the best long-term potential. A GA would be favorable, but it may be hard to get at the #16 spot. We should have a better idea of the possibilities after/during the combine which is set to be held January 8-12th in Fort Lauderdale. However, here is the RSL GM’s assessment of this years crop,

“It’s not as good as last year, but last year was an aberration. You just aren’t gonna have that level every year.”

As far as Garth’s picks in the 2008 & 2009 drafts?

“I think that the jury is still out on those first two drafts. Those guys haven’t come in and established full time starting positions, but I would add that is consistent with what we thought. Tony Beltran was consistently in the mix, and he was the highest pick that we have made, by far. We suspected Alex Nimo was going to be a minimum of 3 years before he contributed. The jury is out. We’ve got to get them more minutes.”

He correctly pointed out that many people confuse playing time early in their career with whether or not it was a successful pick. It’s evaluating the player at that 3-year mark that seems more appropriate. For the 2008 crop (Beltran, Horst, Nimo) that means this upcoming season will be crucial for them,

“David had an excellent preseason last year, but he still needs to keep working on it. He (Horst) and Jean (Alexander) went down to Austin, and that was good for their development in terms of getting those guys games. I hope that those guys come into preseason and try to prove to us that they deserve minutes.”

Look for the fourth segment with Garth on the RSL youth program coming up soon!