When the Orioles hired Mike Elias to be the new GM last year, it was already late in the calendar for him to be able to pull off a big transformation of the O’s operation. In the last couple of weeks, with the Orioles not renewing the contracts of a lot of scouts and player development people, the board was cleared for fresh hires ready to carry out a new vision to bring the organization to a better place.
On Monday, the team started to make some of those new people with new jobs official, announcing a variety of front office hires, including a new Director of Player Development, Matt Blood. According to the O’s press release, Blood “will spearhead staff recruitment, technology programs, and player development strategies throughout the minor leagues.”
Blood comes over from the Rangers, where our friends at Lone Star Ball write that Blood was hired last November also to be the Director of Player Development, though the job shifted to “Director of Innovation” in August. LSB’s Adam Morris suspects Blood was not a fit there as an outsider hire, but that kind of thing could be music to Elias’s ears, and an opportunity for the O’s to grab a talented person for the front office.
Baseball America’s JJ Cooper listed some other jobs on Blood’s resume, including a scouting job with the Cardinals, directing the 18-and-under USA Baseball team, and even writing for BA. Cooper says that Blood has known O’s guru Sig Mejdal for some time, and it seems there may have been some overlap with Elias’s time as a scout there as well.
A number of other people received new promotions or job titles, including at least a few holdovers from the Dan Duquette regime:
- Kevin Buck, previously Director of Team Travel, is now Director of Baseball Administration. “He will oversee Major League team operations, transactions, budgets, and rules compliance.”
- Mike Snyder, previously Director of Pacific Rim Operations and Baseball Development, is now Director of Pro Scouting. “He will be responsible for leading and organizing the evaluation of professional players across all levels.”
- Brad Ciolek has received a promotion to Supervisor, Domestic Scouting Operations. “Ciolek will continue his duties of managing day-to-day operations of the domestic scouting staff and will coordinate all preparation efforts for the amateur draft.”
- Di Zou has received a promotion to Manager, Baseball Systems. Zou is noteworthy for being the one holdover from Duquette’s analytics regime, described by Mejdal in a previous interview as having just stuck around through the transition hoping for more to do under a new GM. “He will continue to assume a growing role in building out the Orioles digital workspaces and analytics capabilities.”
- There are also two newly-created Scouting Analyst positions filled by Hendrik Herz and Chad Tatum. “Herz and Tatum will evaluate amateur players for the draft using video, data, and in-person evaluations.”
The press release provided a statement from Elias about the day’s hires:
We are pleased to announce these moves as we continue to organize and construct our new front office. Matt has an unrivaled network when it comes to identifying up-and-coming coaching talent, and his knowledge of the latest trends in the player development sphere will help to keep us on the forefront of this critical area. In giving new opportunities to our staff members, we recognize their ability to help us continue to build the base of young talent in this organization. I anticipate many more hires and additions to our baseball operations department as we proceed into the offseason.
I would not know any of these guys if I passed them on the street, and I certainly don’t have any idea whether their ideas will be any good at leading the Orioles to a better future. Their work will largely be invisible to the public, with only the results being thought about occasionally. It does speak well to me for all of them that Elias thinks they’re the best person for each of these jobs.