HOUSTON -- In the start of what general manager Jeff Luhnow described as a "comprehensive look across the whole organization," the Astros on Tuesday began restructuring their front office by announcing three promotions, including Mike Elias becoming assistant general manager.Elias, 33, has served as scouting director the past four years
HOUSTON -- In the start of what general manager Jeff Luhnow described as a "comprehensive look across the whole organization," the Astros on Tuesday began restructuring their front office by announcing three promotions, including Mike Elias becoming assistant general manager.
Elias, 33, has served as scouting director the past four years and will continue to oversee the Draft while also providing leadership and oversight to the Astros' player development department. Also receiving promotions were Pete Putila to director of player development and Armando Velasco to assistant director of player development.
"We take a look at each department and we look at how it's evolved over time and where we think it might go and [ask] are we configured properly to take advantage of the changing world?" Luhnow said. "The case of player development, it's an area that's evolving rapidly -- probably more rapidly than any other single area in baseball. We spent a lot of time thinking about how we want to be configured, what our leadership needs to look like and what skills we need to have so we made some changes that I think are going to really help us."
Meanwhile, three members of the player development staff were told Monday they would not be retained by the club: Allen Rowin -- who spent 10 years with the Astros, including this year as director of Minor League operations -- Minor League field coordinator Paul Runge and roving outfield and baserunning coach Leon Roberts.
"We are restructuring parts of our player development operation to prepare for the challenges ahead," Luhnow said. "As with most restructuring efforts, some roles are changed or eliminated. All three of these baseball men have made significant contributions to the Astros for the past five-plus seasons and we are grateful for their hard work and dedication. We wish them well going forward."
Luhnow hinted more changes could be coming into the offseason as he continues to take a look at the organization. The presence of technology and the increasing attention paid to players in the Minor Leagues, especially top prospects, has drastically changed player development in the last few years, Luhnow said.
"It's a responsible thing for us to do is each year is look at how the world has changed, what we expect to happen in the future and configure ourselves to take advantage of those things," he said.
In his new role, Putila will lead the Astros' efforts in all areas of player development operations and essentially serve as farm director. Putila is in his sixth year with the organization after joining the club as a baseball operations intern in 2011. He spent the last year as the club's assistant director of Minor League operations, which followed stints as the club's coordinator of baseball operations (2014-15) and baseball operations assistant (2011-13).
Velasco joined the Astros in January 2014 following internships with the Mets (2013) and SFX Baseball Group (2011-12). With the Astros, he has served as the club's player development assistant (2014) and baseball operations coordinator (2015-16).
Rowin oversaw the Astros' day-to-day operations of the Minor League system, including roster move management and player contract negotiations. He previously served as assistant director of player development, including the development and implementation of the organization's player development curriculum.
Runge was finishing his sixth year with the Astros after spending nearly 30 years with the Braves, with whom he played parts of eight Major League seasons (1981-88). Prior to joining the Astros in 2011, Runge compiled 14 years of Minor League managerial experience in Atlanta's farm system.
Roberts was finishing his seventh season with Houston, including fifth in a row, and 39th overall in baseball. He served as the Astros' Triple-A hitting coach for four years before taking over this year as the roving outfield and baserunning coordinator.
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.