Royals saddened by death of Jim Fregosi Jr.

December 10th, 2021

KANSAS CITY -- Jim Fregosi Jr., Royals special assistant to the general manager and a longtime scout, died unexpectedly on Thursday. He was 57.

The news stunned the Royals and the entire scouting community.

“Our entire organization is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Jim Fregosi Jr.,” president of baseball operations Dayton Moore said in a statement. “Jimmy was an amazing baseball man who had a passion and love for this game. His desire to compete, his strong conviction and keen eye for players separated him as an evaluator. But above all, he was our friend, and we shared all the ups and downs and great things this game has to offer. We will continue to cherish the great memories we have together.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Mary, Jimmy, Katelyn, and Joey.”

Fregosi was a trusted voice in the Royals' front office, especially with advanced scouting and when evaluating potential acquisitions. The son of former Phillies manager Jim Fregosi Sr., Fregosi Jr. grew up around the game and had been involved in professional baseball for more than 30 years.

“Jimmy was a passionate scout that loved players and loved signing players,” said Tim Conroy, a Royals special assistant to the general manager who scouted with Fregosi Jr. “Whether he was a Royal or a Phillie or wherever he was, he made everybody else around him better. He lived for scouting, and he loved it.”

Fregosi Jr. came to Kansas City following the 2011 season after 17 years working for the Phillies as an area scout, cross checker and Major League scout. He also had a stint with the Rockies from 1999-2000 that briefly interrupted his tenure with the Phillies.

When Fregosi Jr. joined the Royals' front office, he immediately had an impact on Alec Zumwalt, who is now the Royals’ player development director of hitting performance. In 2011, Zumwalt was just beginning his scouting career with the Royals, and Fregosi Jr. connected him to Fregosi Sr.

"He was a rough and gruff baseball man, but extremely helpful,” Zumwalt said, laughing as he remembered how Fregosi Sr., then an assistant to the GM in Atlanta, told him that he always wanted to trade Zumwalt when he was in the Braves’ farm system. Fregosi Sr. died in 2014 after a 53-year career in professional baseball.

“I owe a lot to the family,” Zumwalt said. “Tremendous baseball men. With [Fregosi Jr.], I hope people know how much this man loved baseball and loved our family. He was a Royal. He loved this organization. When we won in '15, he was one of the few people I spoke on the phone to that night. I spoke to four people the night we won the World Series, and Fregosi was one of them. That’s how much he means to me. He always will.”

In 2014, Zumwalt was on the advanced scouting team with Fregosi, Tim Conroy, Mike Pazik and Pat Jones, tasked with scouting the National League Championship Series between the Giants and Cardinals to prepare the Royals for the World Series.

“That '14 run was special,” Zumwalt said. “We were a team. We were on that NLCS and preparing for the World Series. Going into '15, Fregosi was there with the Blue Jays-Rangers series and was just a huge part of that whole run again. A huge part of what we did and what we were able to put together.”

The 2014 postseason marked the Royals’ first playoff appearance in 29 years. Naturally, those involved didn’t want to mess anything up when it came to the task at hand.

“That was new for all of us,” Conroy said. “The only guy who had been through it was Jimmy with the Phillies. So we’re all on pins and needles, trying to get every T crossed and I dotted, and he walks into our meetings going, ‘Just relax fellas, it’s all going to take care of itself. It’s going to be good.’ He was such a positive guy. It was hard not to feed off of it.

“We had a great time, and we worked our butts off.”

Fregosi Jr. had a keen eye for talent, especially with hitters and even more so with infielders. As Zumwalt’s role shifted from scouting to player development, Fregosi was still around, imparting wisdom that Zumwalt always used.

“When I look at reports and see his name, if he’s talking about a hitter, I’m all in,” Zumwalt said. “He was just rarely ever wrong. He could see the little things that a lot of people would skip over. He was a tremendous scout and just a fun guy to be around at the ballpark. Nothing funnier than seeing Junior walk into the press dining because everybody loved him. He just affected people in that way.

“For the rest of my career, I’m always going to think about him and be thankful for him because I know that guys in my shoes don’t always get to be surrounded like guys like him and the group I was with.”