Orioles make sweeping changes to scouting department

The Orioles have had a major shakeup in their scouting department, hiring a new national crosschecker while dissolving most of their pro scouting section.

Instead of having a professional scouting department, as most organizations do, Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette has decided to severely minimize that faction as he emphasizes video evaluation on the pro level and a need for more scouting in the amateur ranks.

The club's two big league scouts, Bruce Kison and Dave Engle, will continue in their roles. However, the six remaining pro scouts, most of whom who had specific organizations assigned to them, have been offered jobs as amateur scouts, preparing reports on draft-eligible players. That list includes Jim Thrift, who was the Orioles' advance scout – he would watch and then issue reports on teams the Orioles were about to play – and Lee MacPhail IV, who had been the pro scouting director. He was demoted to pro scout last month.

Thrift has been offered a job as an amateur scout in western Florida; MacPhail, an amateur scouting job in Michigan, Ohio and West Virginia. Four other scouts -- Jim Howard (New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania), Ted Lekas (New England), James Keller (roamer, assisting in California) and former Oriole Todd Frohwirth (Dakotas, Wisconsin, Minnesota) -- also were offered reassignments.

There has been no indication whether they will accept, but it is late in the year for scouts to switch organizations. It's believed they will all retain their previous salaries.

Although it is not unprecedented that an organization would sever much of it pro scouting operation – the Washington Nationals scaled back dramatically a few years ago – it is unusual. But Duquette has shown more of a desire for statistical analysis and will be using more video for scouting purposes.

In addition to those moves, Danny Haas has been named as the organization's national crosschecker, meaning he will travel the country and provide additional looks at amateur players whom the Orioles' regional personnel have already scouted.

Haas, 35, had spent the past 10 seasons in amateur scouting with the Boston Red Sox. He was drafted as a player under Duquette's regime there, and Haas' father, Eddie, was a longtime special assistant and right-hand man to Duquette in Boston.

One regional crosschecker, Nick Presto, has left the Orioles' organization, and another, Dean Albany, will become an area scout, work as a local liaison between the Orioles and Maryland-area players and also work with the Revitalizing Baseball in Inner cities program. first reported the changes in the Orioles' pro scouting department.