Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Blue Jays, Scouting Director Part Ways

Parker (r), with Assistan GM Andrew Tinnish - Canadian Baseball photo

     Toronto Blue Jays amateur scouting director Brian Parker, according to an article in Baseball America.  National cross checker Blake Davis was also let go, according to BA.

  Parker joined the Jays as a pro scout in 2009, and took charge of the draft in 2012.  In the wake of deals with the Mets and Marlins prior to 2013 which dealt away much of the farm system's upper level depth, Parker and his staff quickly rebuilt the minor league organization, selecting players like Marcus Stroman, Matt Boyd, Kendall Graveman, and Jeff Hoffman.  Last season, with then-GM Alex Anthopoulos dealing 18 prospects over 6 months, Parker deftly re-stocked the system again.  Other players drafted by Parker and still toiling in the Blue Jays farm system included Anthony Alford, Conner Greene, Max Pentecost, Rowdy Tellez, Justin Maese, Sean Reid-FoleyJon Harris, and 2016 draftee T.J. Zeuch.

   The Indiana State Business Management grad has spent his whole career in professional sports, starting with an internship with the Colorado Rockies in 1997.  He spent time with the NFL's Buffalo Bills in media relations, before moving to the Southwest to help eventually head up the Arizona Fall League's operations. Parker joined the Montreal Expos in the player development department in 2003, and moved with the Expos to Washington, where he rose to Director of Baseball Operations before joining the Blue Jays, where he joined his friend and former fellow Expos staffer Anthopoulos.  Under Parker, the Blue Jays were at the leading edge of amateur scouting, opting for high-risk, high-reward prospects like Alford and Stroman, players from non-traditional baseball markets like Maese, and they exploited new draft rules regarding signing bonuses to draft low-leverage college seniors like Boyd and Graveman in 2013, and used savings from those picks to persuade Tellez to forego his college commitment after most clubs felt he wouldn't sign.

   When Mark Shapiro took over the Blue Jays operations side last year, changes were expected.  He brought Ross Atkins from Cleveland with him to take over the GM job, hired Gil Kim from the Rangers to head minor league operations, and persuaded Angus Mugford to leave the IMG Academy in Florida to head up the club's new high performance department.  In addition to Anthopoulos, long-time International scouting director Ismael Cruz left the club last fall for a similar position with the Dodgers.

  What does this mean for the Blue Jays?  Likely a slight shift in philosophy, but nothing fans would notice right away.  The club has been a solid drafter and developer of prospects, and with Shapiro's past emphasis on development, not much is like to change in that regard.  Picks like J.B. Woodman and Josh Palacios this June shows that this is still an organization that covets upside.

   As for Parker, he has a solid resume, and accomplished a great deal in his four years of running the amateur scouting side.  He should land another job fairly quickly.  Shapiro garnered considerable scorn from some Blue Jays fans on social media after taking over and making a fair number of changes prior to this season, but much of that was to be expected in the wake of a regime change, and with the team in first place and the next wave of prospects ready to make an impact at the MLB level in 2017 or 2018, it's hard to argue with the results.  Sportsnet suggests that a rumour is making the rounds that Oakland assistant scouting director Michael Holmes, who was  a teammate of Atkins' in college, may be tapped to replace Parker.

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