Picking the brain of Chaim Bloom and his process behind the MLB draft
TORONTO - Chaim Bloom is trying to build the next great Red Sox core.
Heralded as an innovative baseball mind with an expertise in player development, Boston hired the now 39-year-old as its chief baseball officer in 2019. Part of Bloom's main tasks was to rebuild a pillaged farm system that was cleared out over several years at the expense of winning the 2018 World Series.
Through two drafts he's already helped restock the cupboards. Three of the organization's top six prospects (Marcelo Mayer, No. 1; Nick Yorke, No. 4; Blaze Jordan, No. 6) were acquired under his leadership.
Bloom sat down with theScore ahead of the 2022 MLB Draft to discuss what's made him successful, his draft process, and more.
theScore: How exciting of a time is the draft for you and the front office?
Bloom: You could argue that the draft is the most important three days of our year considering how much impact it has on how good you are over time. It's huge. And fortunately, we have a great group of people working on it year-round to put us in a position to make good decisions.
How much behind the scenes work goes into the draft?
It starts with Paul Toboni, our scouting director, but we have so many people that he works with - many of whom are rarely at Fenway Park - and they're out in their territories, or crisscrossing the country seeing players. But there are also a lot of people in the office that help us bring all the information together. It's really a multi-year process. You build a process on these players to put you in position to make good decisions. And as you get close to the draft, you're trying to put all that information that you spent all those years gathering together in a way that will allow you to bring the most talent to the organization.
How do you make that final call on a certain player?
Ideally, you have a lot of that work done before the draft starts. Obviously, as the draft goes on, you might get more information - particularly on signability, or what bonus expectations players have - but ideally, your board is built when the draft starts. That's not always the case. There's always things that happen at the last minute, but the more work you can do in advance, the more prepared you are, you're gonna make better decisions.
How does it feel when you get to your pick and the player you want is still there?
It's really exciting. There are definitely some picks that fire up your room more than some others. Now, I have learned over time, that the reason you have a process is to trust it. And that how excited you are in the room when you make a pick does not necessarily correlate with how much that pick impacts the organization. That's why you put all the energy into the process so that however it falls, if you feel like you had a good process getting there, you trust your board. And when you do that, you put yourself in a position to be sometimes more excited down the line than you thought you'd be. And when that happens, the credit is due to all the people who put the work into that player to lead you to trust that work and make a good decision regardless of how you felt at the moment.
What is it like to see a player you've drafted come through your system and make their major-league debut?
There's arguably no better feeling throughout the organization than to see a homegrown player grow, develop, and help you win at the big-league level. And when that happens, part of the reason it's such a lift for the organization is because so many people have their fingerprints on that player's success. It obviously starts with the player - everything starts with the player - and they deserve the most credit for what they do. But you can go back and look at all the people that scouted that player, all the people who assessed him from the front office, all the people who helped develop that player in the minor leagues to get him stronger, keep them on the field, get them into the right frame of mind. And by the time that guy is helping you win games in the big leagues, literally dozens of people in the organization have played a role. And that's the greatest joy that I get out of what I do is, is doing great and difficult things with people that I really care about. And when you have a homegrown player impact your big-league club, it's really unifying for the organization.
Some teams get labeled as being poor at drafting, but how much of the responsibility is on the team to develop players?
You could argue that at no point in the history of our game have there been more possibilities that you can imagine how a player could improve and become a quality big leaguer. That's where so much energy is going into the game behind the scenes, in finding new and better ways to develop players and help them reach their ceilings. We're learning that some players are capable of more and better than we might have thought when I first started working in baseball. And that's one of our challenges, is to make sure that we're getting the most out of these guys, whether it's in a way that we can foresee or ways that we can't.
With so many rounds and picks on Day 2 and 3 coming in quick succession, how do you make sure you're always making what you think is the correct pick?
That really comes down to the work that Paul and his staff do. And you try to prepare as much as you can. And on an ongoing basis, especially with signability and how different players' outlooks change over the course of the draft. You get info in real-time that you factor in, but for the most part, it comes back to preparation and process. It's a year-long and really a multi-year process to put a player in position to be a Red Sox draft pick.