A couple of months after moving its pro scouting department under one umbrella that would focus primarily on amateur scouting, the Orioles have decided to put a little more emphasis on monitoring the minor leagues.

The change is based more on logistics than any switch in philosophy, Orioles amateur scouting director Gary Rajsich said.


In December, Dan Duquette, the Orioles' new executive vice president of baseball operations, announced that six of the club's eight pro scouts would be joining the amateur side as part of the organization's concentration on improving its annual draft. Duquette felt that he could reallocate the resources to the ever-important June draft because much of the scouting of the minors done by the pro side could be duplicated with video and statistical analysis.

Only the club's two remaining major league scouts, Bruce Kison and Dave Engle, would continue in their current positions, and the other six, including advance scout Jim Thrift, would pick up regional assignments and follow high school and college players -- at least until after the draft.

But Rajsich said today that some duplication was created in the re-assignments so James Keller, who is based in California, will scout amateurs only until the minor league baseball season begins. And Lee MacPhail IV, who had been the director of pro scouting under his uncle, former club president Andy MacPhail, will exclusively scout the minors for the Orioles.

Rajsich said pro scouting assignments had not been finalized but there would be an emphasis on Triple-A play, so Keller likely will scout the Pacific Coast League and MacPhail, who lives in Ohio, will scout the International League.

"It was just a matter of logistics," Rajsich said. "We don't have an [amateur] area for Lee, and we don't have an amateur area for James Keller. So they are able to do more pro scouting than the other guys are. Obviously, it came down to logistics. We are just trying to maximize our resources."

Once the amateur draft is completed, Rajsich said, some of the now-amateur scouts will have additional minor league pro coverage within their regions as well as keeping tabs on amateur players. That way, the Orioles will continue to have an eye on other organizations' prospects.

Thrift, former Oriole Todd Frohwirth and longtime scouts Jim Howard and Ted Lekas accepted their new roles as primarily amateur scouts and are on board for this year. Rajsich said he hopes to have their post-June pro assignments decided this month.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun