Five Questions With Deric Ladnier, Arizona Diamondbacks Director of Amateur Scouting
Former Ole Miss baseball player is the Diamondbacks Director of Amateur Scouting
In the early 80s, Deric Ladnier manned third base for the Ole Miss Rebels. After his junior season in 1985, he was drafted by the Kansas City Royals and left Oxford.
While playing Double-A ball in Memphis he suffered a career-ending shoulder injury. But the morning after he retired as a player, he loaded his truck and drove to Atlanta where he signed a contract as a scout. Ladnier was only out of baseball for about 18 hours and has remained in the profession ever since — working for over 30 years in scouting and player development.
Currently, Ladnier is the Director of Amateur Scouting for the Arizona Diamondbacks. He has also worked in the Kansas City and Washington organizations as well as Atlanta where he reached the level of Director of Minor League Operations.
Recently, Ladnier sat down with The Rebel Walk for “Five questions with…”
Rebel Walk: Swayze Field is much different than the one you played in when you were a Rebel. When was the last time you were in Oxford and how important are facilities to recruiting?
Deric Ladnier: Swayze Field is way different than the past. Most all SEC schools have upgraded facilities from the days of the past. The atmosphere and the facilities are excellent. It certainly helps the recruiting process. Bringing a young man to an SEC weekend series would make anyone want to be a part of it — the students in the outfield having a blast, just a great experience.
Rebel Walk: How has your method of scouting changed during COVID-19?
Deric Ladnier: With Covid we have certainly relied more on video than in the past. Zoom calls were imperative to our operations. We have actually learned that these type calls can be very effective in the fact we can have more people involved with discussions with players and families. Safety has been the highest priority for obvious reasons. It has changed the way we evaluate without changing the basic principles of what we do.
Rebel Walk: There seems to be a trend of college players being drafted over high school players. Do you think it will continue and why?
Deric Ladnier: With regard to the trend of HS vs. college, I think this is more of an organization-by-organization decision. Some feel college players have less risk and lower financial demands. Much of that last year with the loss of revenue also impacted the decision making process. Each organization has its own philosophy when it comes to the draft. I have always felt taking the best talent, regardless of whether it is high school or college, is the best way to build an organization.
Rebel Walk: In your career, who was the best prospect you ever scouted?
Deric Ladnier: Best talent I have ever scouted, I would say is (2009 AL Cy Young Award winner) Zack Greinke because I drafted him, lol. But in reality I can remember watching Kerry Wood and being stunned at how good he was. Joe Mauer was as good as I have ever seen, a great athlete that was an elite hitter and a catcher, which is a unique quality. Justin Upton was a 5-tooled guy. I hate to limit it, but this is a conversation that could go on for days. All the great ones were just unicorns on a baseball field.
Rebel Walk: What player surprised you most after you drafted him?
Deric Ladnier: From my own personal experience, it has to be Jarrod Dyson. He was a 50th rounder that has been a productive ML player for many years. He is a great defender with elite speed and has always hit enough to make a roster. It’s hard to get a ML player in the 50th round. Our scouts did a great job of making sure I drafted him, and I am proud of what he became. He’s a great person as well and has been a role model for a lot of players.