Jordan leaves O's to become Phillies director of player development

Joe Jordan, who has overseen the Orioles' past seven drafts as director of amateur scouting, is leaving the organization to become the Philadelphia Phillies' director of player development.

The Phillies asked for and received permission from the Orioles to interview Jordan, 49, and met with him Monday. He agreed to the deal Wednesday. Now, instead of choosing the players -- something for which Jordan has received mixed reviews -- he will be helping to develop them into major leaguers.

"I'm very excited about the fact that the Phillies wanted me," Jordan said. "I'm very excited to join a very strong and respected organization. I just feel very fortunate that they initiated this and came after me hard and we could work something out."

Jordan's contract with the Orioles expires in December, and with Andy MacPhail, the club's president of baseball operations, stepping down last week, there was uncertainty as to how the front office would shake out.

Manager Buck Showalter said Wednesday that no one in the Orioles' front office is happy to see Jordan leave, but his departure might make it a bit easier for the club to lure a top-quality candidate to replace MacPhail. Top baseball executives usually like to have a say in the makeup of their front office staffs.

"I think the world of Joe," Showalter said. "He's a hard worker with a passion for scouting and player development. The Orioles are going to miss him. The Phillies got a good man. If he's leaving us, I'm glad he's going to the National League."

Jordan is the second the second executive to leave for Philadelphia in recent years. Scott Proefrock, the Orioles' baseball administration director, left for the Phillies before the 2009 season to become assistant general manager. Proefrock is considered a potential candidate for the Orioles' vacant GM/president job.

The Phillies have been looking to fill the player-development position since assistant GM for development Chuck LaMar resigned last month.

A former scout with the Montreal Expos and national cross-checker with the Florida Marlins, Jordan was hired by the Orioles in November 2004 to replace Tony DeMacio. In the past seven drafts, Jordan was responsible for selecting several of the players who make up the Orioles' young nucleus, including catcher Matt Wieters and starters Brian Matusz, Jake Arrieta and Zach Britton.

Shortstop Manny Machado, whom Jordan selected out of Brito High in Miami with the third overall pick in 2010, is considered one of the game's best prospects. Right-handed starter Dylan Bundy, whom Jordan took fourth overall in June, then signed to a $6.25 million major league deal, was viewed by some as the most talented player in the 2011 draft.

However, Jordan had been the subject of increasing criticism because of the organization's alarming lack of depth and, specifically, its dearth of position prospects. He also has had his share of high-profile misses, none bigger than the selection of New Jersey prep infielder Billy Rowell with the ninth overall pick in 2006.

Rowell, who was considered the best high school hitter in the draft, has been a bust, spending three mostly disappointing years at High-A Frederick before suffering through an injury-marred and unproductive year at Double-A Bowie this past season. The player selected one pick after him -- whom the Orioles considering taking -- was two-time Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum, who helped lead the San Francisco Giants to the 2010 World Series crown.

Jordan's first top pick, Brandon Snyder, a Virginia prep catcher taken 13th overall in 2005, also has not panned out. Then there's the case of right-handed pitcher Matt Hobgood, who was projected as a late first-round pick in 2009. Jordan drafted the California prep pitcher fifth overall amid criticism that he made the selection largely because of budgetary concerns, an accusation he has vehemently denied.

Hobgood's conditioning was a major issue in 2010, and he missed most of this past season with a shoulder injury, finishing the year at short-season Single-A Aberdeen. Meanwhile, several pitchers drafted after him in 2009 have already had some success in the big leagues, including the Washington Nationals' Drew Storen, the Kansas City Royals' Aaron Crow, the Detroit Tigers' Jacob Turner and the Cincinnati Reds' Mike Leake.

Jordan put some of the money saved with the Hobgood pick into several other selections, paying well above slot for second-round choice Mychal Givens, ninth-round pick Ryan Berry, 11th-round selection Michael Ohlman and 22nd-round choice Cameron Coffey. None of the selections has paid off yet.

Under Jordan, the Orioles have picked among the top five for five consecutive years and in the top 15 for all seven of his drafts. A restless fan base has questioned why the organization's American League East rivals, who have mostly drafted well behind the Orioles in recent years, are churning out far more prospects.

Despite the criticism, Jordan has been mostly praised by draft pundits for helping retool the barren farm system. DeMacio, who oversaw the Orioles' drafts from 1999 to 2004, wore a lot of the blame for a laundry list of first-round misses that included Beau Hale (2000), Chris Smith (2001) and Wade Townsend (2004).

One of Jordan's most successful picks was Wieters, the switch-hitting catcher out of Georgia Tech taken fifth overall in 2007 and signed to a franchise-record $6 million signing bonus. Wieters made the All-Star team this past season and has emerged as a team leader and one of the top defensive backstops in the league.

Matusz, the left-handed starter who was the fourth overall pick in 2008, also was a widely praised selection, though he had a nightmarish 2011 season.

Jordan had also found talent after the first round, nabbing Arrieta (fifth round in 2007), Britton (third round in 2006), Jason Berken (sixth round in 2006) and David Hernandez (16th round in 2005).

"It was a great seven years," Jordan said. "I felt like that professionally and personally. I'm disappointed that I will not be able to be there when they [the Orioles] turn things around, because I think that will happen. I had a wonderful job, and I was allowed to do it the way I wanted to."

Baltimore Sun reporters Peter Schmuck and Jeff Zrebiec contributed to this article.

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