HOUSTON -- Mike Elias was 24 years old when Jeff Luhnow hired him from among 800 applicants to be an area scout for the Cardinals in 2007, which meant a plethora of hotel rewards points, a supply of good sunscreen and strong knowledge of mid-Atlantic ballparks.
Elias, a former pitcher at Yale whose playing career was thwarted by injuries, quickly become one of Luhnow's most trusted advisers and followed him to Houston in 2012 shortly after Luhnow was named general manager of the Astros. Now, as Elias takes over as executive vice president and general manager of the Orioles, Luhnow will look to replace his longtime confidant.
"I'm excited for him," Luhnow said Monday, the same day Elias was introduced in Baltimore. "He made a significant contribution here to our success, and he will be missed. We were expecting this might happen, so we've got quite a few people in the departments he was overseeing that are very capable of running them at this point. "
That includes special assistants Oz Ocampo and Kevin Goldstein. Ocampo ran the Astros' international operations for five years before traveling with the club this year and assisting with video scouting and serving as the Spanish-language interpreter, and Goldstein headed up the Astros' pro scouting department before it was reorganized last year.
"We haven't made any decisions as far as what the structure looks like in the short term or long term," Luhnow said. "We'll be having those discussions in the coming weeks, but we don't feel like we're in a bind at this point. We have good bench strength, good people in each department that are going to be capable of accomplishing our goal."
Elias spent the past 2 1/2 seasons as Astros assistant GM and oversaw the club's domestic and international scouting efforts, as well as oversight of player development and Minor League operations. He joined the club in '12 as special assistant to the GM and oversaw the MLB Draft beginning in '13.
With Elias in Baltimore and David Stearns in Milwaukee, Luhnow has spawned two GMs since his arrival in Houston. Stearns was hired by Luhnow in '12 and spent three seasons in Houston before leaving for the Brewers late in the '15 season. The Brewers came within one game of reaching the World Series this year.
"I'm very proud of the fact David Stearns is having the success he's having and that we have impacted him in some way," Luhnow said. "Mike, I'm even more proud because he and I have worked together for almost 15 years. We have a longstanding relationship."
Luhnow, who added the title president of baseball operations this year and had his contract extended through 2023, has already restructured some parts of his front office. Brandon Taubman was promoted to assistant GM in September and the team reshuffled its research-and-development department following the departure of its top two analysts, Mike Fast and Sig Mejdal. Fast joined the Braves, and Mejdal could follow Elias to Baltimore.
The Astros also have coaching openings following the departure of hitting coaches Dave Hudgens and Jeff Albert and bullpen coach Doug White.
"Anytime you focus on developing people and players, you develop good executives and good baseball players and good coaches, other clubs are going to notice and going to want to take advantage of that," Luhnow said. "It's a compliment, and it just means we have to work that much harder to fill our pipeline."