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Creech keeps Bucs' war room composed
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06/04/2002 8:50 pm ET 
Creech keeps Bucs' war room composed
By Ed Eagle / MLB.com

GM Dave Littlefield, far left, and the Pirates' staff in the club's "war room" Tuesday. (Ed Eagle/MLB.com)

Pirates' round-by-round picks

PITTSBURGH -- Less than an hour after completing the first day of his first draft as scouting director for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Ed Creech sat in his PNC Park office wearing the look of satisfaction that often follows a hard day's work.

For most of the day, Creech had occupied a seat at the head of a large table in one of the facility's conference rooms -- surrounded by two huge draft boards, several television monitors, a few laptops and a dry-erase board -- and calmly directed his war-room staff of about 15 members.

Unlike the NFL and NBA drafts, in which teams have considerable time between picks, the Major League's First-Year Player Draft moves forward at breakneck speed. Scouts in the war room make endless last-second calls to scouts in the field to inquire one final time about signability. Prospects appear to come of the board like the sides of an old house caught in a twister. Through it all, Creech coolly led his troops through what he considered one of the smoothest draft days he has ever experienced.

"If you have a guy [in charge] who doesn't panic and understands the plan, then you are not going to have many troubles,' said Creech. "These other guys know their roles, they know what they do and they know how to get the answers if you've got them.

"These guys are pretty good. They do this thing a lot."

Creech modestly downplayed his own impact to the group dynamics, focusing instead on his staff.

"It's a team effort," he said. " If you've got one guy not rowing then you are going in circles."

Creech's serene approach was no doubt one of the reasons that he was hired last November. Having the top pick in the draft can be a mixed blessing, especially in a year when there is no clear-cut overall No. 1 player, and the Bucs needed someone with the ability to handle such a responsibility.

More than six months after accepting the position, despite extensive scouting and research, Creech and the Pirates still remained uncertain about their top selection. Only Monday, after countless meetings, did they finally decide upon Ball State right-hander Bryan Bullington.

2002 First-Year Player Draft
JUNE 4-5 | NEW YORK CITY
Draft order | Rules | FAQ

FULL COVERAGE:
Bullington goes first
Drafttracker
Complete Draft coverage

"We covered every angle possible," said Creech. "Probably, in the course of the past three days, there were 15 different meetings on just the No. 1 guy alone. Honestly, this was a little more difficult than I had anticipated."

According to Creech, there comes a point where the studying is done and you have to take that final test. He realized that no amount of research would lead to a foolproof decision.

"But the bottom line is that you have to do what is best for your club and be willing to take a chance on that guy," he said. "We were trying to find out the best fit for our club and if it was a risk, then you know what? Sometimes you have to take risks in your life.

"Every one of these kids is a risk. We are taking risks on a young kid's health and makeup. We do as much homework as we can but you can never be sure."

Creech added that the Bucs decided to take that chance on Bullington because he was the best overall fit for the club.

"He can get [to the big leagues] a little quicker and he has more upside," said Creech. "For a year that was thin we were very fortunate to get a good, solid pitcher like Bullington in the draft."

While the No. 1 overall selection will always garner the lion's share of the headlines, Creech has long stressed that the most important aspect of drafting first is not having the top overall selection, but rather being able to choose first in every round. It was with these picks that Creech continued to build upon the solid foundation of the Bullington selection, picking up five players that Pittsburgh's scout had listed among the top 41 in the draft.

All-Star ballot

Despite landing so many of his coveted players, Creech isn't going to go patting himself on the back any time soon.

"We feel good about that. But there are 29 other teams feeling good about themselves, too." he said. "That's the way you should feel because you've worked hard and we lined these guys up the way we thought that they lined up.

"If you are good then it will show up in the long run."

Creech also knows that there is plenty more work to be done. He will head back into the war room tomorrow with 28 players yet to select.

PIRATES 2002 DRAFT PICKS
1 BRYAN P BULLINGTON RHP BALL ST U
42 BLAIR D JOHNSON RHP WASHBURN RURAL HS
73 TABER R LEE SS SAN DIEGO ST U
103 WARDELL D STARLING RHP LAWRENCE E ELKINS HS
133 ALEX M HART RHP U FLORIDA
163 BRADLEY R ELDRED 1B FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL U
193 MATTHEW D CAPPS RHP ROBERT S ALEXANDER HS
223 ROBERT R KINGSBURY CF FORDHAM U
253 JOSEPH C HICKS CF FOREST BROOK HS
283 DAVID L DAVIDSON LHP DENIS MORRIS HS
313 ANTHONY S BOCCHINO RF MARIST COL
343 BRIAN T HOLLIDAY LHP MOON AREA HS
373 CHRISTOPHER CUNNINGHAM C U ARIZONA
403 JOHN M SMITH 2B MIDDLE GEORGIA COL
433 JONATHAN G SCHNEIDER RHP LIBERTY U
463 JOHN F HUMMEL LHP SCHAUMBURG HS
493 CHRISTOPHER N DEMARIA RHP CALIFORNIA ST U
523 JEFFREY B WATCHKO RHP GEORGIA TECH
553 HERBERT D ANDRES RHP W.J. MOUAT SS
583 RUSSELL BAYER LHP MIAMI U
613 CHRIS A HOLT RHP FLAGLER COL
643 PAUL HARP RHP MIDDLE GEORGIA COL
673 DEAN J DEVINE 3B 2B U SOUTH DAKOTA
703 ERON S CHRISTENSEN 1B U SOUTHERN COLORADO
733 MATTHEW A CUNDIFF RHP COOPER CITY HS
763 CALVIN R BEAMON CF SMOKY HILL HS
793 GENE C FILYAW SS JASPER HS
823 ANTHONY W STEVENS SS SOUTH DOYLE HS
853 FRANCIS T PONI C LA HARBOR JC
883 CHRISTOPHER G TONEGUZZI RHP MARKVILLE SS
913 WILLIAM A WEBSTER C MOON VALLEY HS
943 ANGEL M COLON OF SAN VICENTE DE PAUL HS
973 NYJER J MORGAN CF WALLA WALLA CC
1003 ADAM M HOWARD RHP OOLTEWAH HS
1033 ERIC A KING 2B LOS MEDANOS COL
1063 RICHARD R ALDRIDGE RHP WAYNE COUNTY HS
1093 ANTHONY SNOW RHP CASCADE HS
1123 PHILLIP STILLWELL RHP NORTH FLORIDA JC
1153 CHASE M MOORE CF RF ST MARYS COLLEGE HS
1183 MATTHEW M MAROPIS SS FRANKLIN REGIONAL HS
1213 ROLLIE J GIBSON LHP BUCHANAN HS
1243 CHAZ J LYTLE CF U GEORGIA
1273 MICHAEL B HICKS LHP ST STEPHENS HS

Ed Eagle covers the Pirates for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.





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