Gary Rajsich not returning as Orioles amateur scouting director; Chris Holt hired as pitching coordinator from Astros

Jon Meoli
Contact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun

Orioles director of amateur scouting Gary Rajsich won't be around to serve as a bridge from the old era to the new under general manager Mike Elias, according to an industry source.

Rajsich was one of three executives, along with vice president Brady Anderson and former interim general manager and current director of player development Brian Graham, kept on after executive vice president Dan Duquette was let go Oct. 3.

But it turns out that Rajsich, the Orioles' scouting director since November 2011 — shortly after Duquette came to the Orioles — will join Duquette in seeking new employment after overseeing seven drafts in Baltimore.

Those drafts only recently started gaining industry acclaim.

Despite holding the fourth overall pick in 2012, which yielded pitcher Kevin Gausman, the team's propensity for signing free agents who declined the qualifying offer and thus cost the Orioles their top draft pick, plus the late-round picks that come with playoff appearances, limited the club’s ability to bring in impact talent.

Injuries to top picks Hunter Harvey (2013) and Cody Sedlock (2016), plus not having a pick until the third round in 2014, made things difficult, but recent drafts that yielded Austin Hays, DL Hall and Grayson Rodriguez have gotten much better reviews, and the farm system has grown in esteem because of it.

Of the 30 players in this year's Baseball America rankings for the Orioles' farm system, 19 were drafted by Rajsich, including eight of the top 10. However, Rajsich's departure comes after what has been a major dismantling of the Orioles' amateur scouting staff. It began when special assistant Matt Haas, East Coast supervisor Kirk Fredriksson and area scout Dana Duquette weren't retained ahead of their contracts expiring on Oct. 31.

Generally, many aspects of the Orioles front office were turned over as contracts expired, but Elias' background in amateur scouting from his time with the Houston Astros will allow him to bring in people he's familiar with, possibly from both his time in Houston and his connections with the St. Louis Cardinals.

It's become a busy time for Elias, who was introduced as the Orioles’ new general manager last week. His first hire was former Astros executive Sig Mejdal, who comes to Baltimore as assistant general manager with an analytics focus after he left Houston on his own accord after the season.

While Elias will be limited as to who he can bring along with him from Houston, one will be the Astros’ assistant pitching coordinator, Chris Holt, according to an industry source. Holt, who was the pitching coach at three levels from 2014 to 2017 before his promotion this season, spent one year in the Pirates' farm system before transitioning out of an active player role. He'll replace John Wasdin, who spent two years in that role for the Orioles but could stay on in a different capacity.

The Athletic and MASNSports.com first reported the moves.

jmeoli@baltsun.com

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