'Period of change' continues for baseball ops

September 16th, 2019

BALTIMORE -- What executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias recently dubbed “a period of change right now with the Orioles” continued on Monday, when the club announced a series of promotions, repositionings and a new addition to its organizational ranks. The latest reconstruction brought the hiring of Matt Blood as the new director of player development, along with in-house fillings of key positions in the baseball operations and scouting departments.

Blood, 34, comes over from the Texas Rangers, where he worked under the title of director of baseball innovation since last November. Blood spent 2016-18 with USA Baseball and seven years prior as an area scout for the Cardinals, where Elias got his start in the same role.

“Matt has an unrivaled network when it comes to identifying up-and-coming coaching talent,” Elias said in a statement. “His knowledge of the latest trends in the player development sphere will help keep us on the forefront of this critical area.”

In Baltimore, Blood’s role will “spearhead staff recruitment, technology programs and player development strategies throughout the Minor Leagues,” according to the club. His hiring comes six days after the Orioles chose not to retain around a dozen staffers in player development, the second wide-scale shakeup within the organization in three weeks.

Blood’s most immediate task will be to run point on filling many of those vacancies with an eye toward modernizing Baltimore’s player development operations in Elias’ vision.

“The reality is there has been a significant amount of new info and new technology that has exploded across baseball in the last five or six years, and we’re all doing our best to react to it and position ourselves to it,” Elias said last week. “There are going to be positions here that never existed before with the Orioles. … I do expect us to backfill all those numbers, if not more. It might not be the same title, same location, but we’re going to be growing as a department.”

Enter Blood, who marks Elias’ most high-profile hire since bringing in Koby Perez to head international scouting in January. All told, Elias has now added five new faces -- assistant GM Sig Mejdal, manager Brandon Hyde, Perez, Minor League pitching coordinator Chris Holt and Blood -- to authority positions since taking over Baltimore’s baseball operations department last November.

The Orioles had technically been operating without a director of player development or pro scouting since Gary Rajsich and Brian Graham were dismissed last October. At the time, Kent Qualls and Brad Ciolek were tabbed on an interim basis to head those departments, which saw an extra level of personal involvement from Elias this season. The club promoted Mike Snyder to pro scouting director and Ciolek to supervisor of domestic scouting operations on Monday, also retaining Qualls as director of Minor League ops.

Additionally, former director of team travel Kevin Buck was promoted to director of baseball administration, where he’ll assume many of recently dismissed director of baseball ops Tripp Norton’s former responsibilities. Di Zou, the analytics department’s lone holdover member when Mejdal inherited it last winter, was promoted to manager of baseball systems. Hendrik Herz and Chad Tatum were both promoted to scouting analysts, newly created roles on the amateur side to “evaluate amateur players for the Draft using video, data and in-person evaluations.” They will report to Ciolek.

“In giving new opportunities to our staff members, we recognize their ability to help us continue to build the base of young talent in this organization,” Elias said. “I anticipate many more hires and additions to our baseball operations department as we proceed into the offseason.”