MLB launches program to diversify scouting
PHOENIX – William Scott leaned his chair back against the wall in the hotel ballroom wall and soaked the atmosphere in.
He put down his pen and notepad and took a deep breath. His eyes and ears were still open, but his laptop was closed. It was time to appreciate the moment.
Less than 30 seconds later, it was time to get back to work and focus on the wisdom being shared. That’s what scouts in training do.
“This has been incredible,” Scott said with a huge grin. “Just unbelievable.”
Scott was one of 29 participants in Major League Baseball’s first annual Diversity Pipeline Scout Development Program, an initiative designed to help build a pipeline of diverse talent for MLB teams. Created in partnership with the Buck O'Neil Professional Scouts and Coaches Association, the program featured daily classroom instruction along with scouting opportunities at Arizona Fall League games across the Phoenix metro area. The group also scouted a collegiate game between Arizona State University and Long Beach State.
“This week has given me a better understanding of the game of baseball, the talent evaluation, but also how teams look at the Draft, put together big leagues rosters, how they utilize their Minor League system, and of course, scouting,” said Scott, a former Triple-A player with the Padres who most recently interned with the Brewers. “It’s been great to get feedback and also listen to the different points of view. There has been so much insight.”
Led by Tyrone Brooks, who serves as MLB’s senior director for front office and field staff for the Diversity Pipeline Program, the instructors included Oakland’s assistant director of scouting Haley Alvarez, MLB baseball operations senior coordinator Liz Benn, Baltimore area scouting supervisor Quincy Boyd, Detroit area scouting supervisor Darold Brown and Miami pro scout Jalal Leach. The staff also featured D-backs national crosschecker Bump Merriweather, Mets national crosschecker Andrew Toussaint, Pirates consultant Greg Orr, MLB consultant Bo Porter and retired scout and executive Fred Wright.
“You look around the game, and you see the number of African-American scouts is now at around 7 percent and the number of women was almost non-existent,” Brooks said. “So we wanted to put a comprehensive scout development program in place that would give women and persons of color an opportunity to learn the nuances of scouting, and then put them in a position to make this a career pathway for them. It’s about continuing our efforts to help build a pipeline and providing an outlet for our teams who are looking for talent.”
Among the attendees were former pro baseball and softball players, students and various Major League and Minor League team employees at the early stages of their careers. Of the 29 attendees, 15 were women.
“I think the biggest thing has been getting to pick the brains of people that have been scouts and in the game for 25 years or more, past managers, scouting directors and getting a wider perspective about the game,” said Eleanor Martin, a baseball operations associate for the Giants. “I feel like I've learned so much about the game and it has helped me gain a well-rounded perspective.”
The week-long program concluded with a Draft Day exercise, dinner and an awards ceremony.
For scouting ability, competitiveness, personality and the ability to be a good teammate, Touré Harris and Katie Mooradian were named the program’s Spirit Award winners in honor of former Yankees scout Kelly Rodman (who died from cancer in 2020) and former Cardinals scout Charles Peterson (who died from complications from COVID-19 last year). Harris and Mooradian will receive transportation to and lodging at the 2021 Buck O’Neil Professional Scouts and Coaches Association conference in Kansas City on Nov. 11-14.
“When I started scouting, we didn’t have anything like this,” Wright said. “And some of those kids that I'm seeing right now remind me of myself. I hope that they take away understanding of what it takes to become a professional baseball scout and a feel for what to look for in high-end players. We hope to have developed some type of a foundation.”
Porter called it an honor to share his experiences with the next generation of scouts.
“I wouldn't be where I'm at if it wasn't for the people that shared their experiences and their passion and love for the game with me,” he said. “So it's our responsibility to pay those blessings forward. And events like this, where we are sharing our knowledge and wisdom with the next generation, are important. I've said this probably three or four times this week to the entire group that everything which I'm sharing with them, I learned from someone else.”