HOUSTON -- Astros President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Jeff Luhnow today announced the following promotions and changes to the Baseball Operations Department:
Pete Putila has been promoted to Assistant General Manager, Player Development. In his newly-expanded role, Putila will continue to oversee player development at all levels of the organization and will also oversee the sports medicine and performance department. Putila is in his ninth season with the Astros and most recently spent the past three seasons as Director of Player Development. Putila is a graduate of West Virginia University where he received his bachelor’s degree in sport management and served as the baseball team’s student manager.
Brandon Taubman’s contract has been extended and his title has been changed to Assistant General Manager, Player Evaluation. In his new role, Taubman will continue to assist Luhnow in all areas of baseball operations and will now have oversight of amateur, professional and international player evaluation. Taubman joined the Astros in June 2013 as an analyst and has progressively increased his scope and responsibilities during his tenure with the team – most recently serving as Assistant General Manager this current season. Taubman and his family have made Houston home since joining the Astros following stints with both Ernst and Young and Barclays Investment Bank.
Bill Firkus has been promoted to Senior Director of Baseball Strategy. In his new role, Firkus will oversee the activities of roster and payroll management, 40-man roster contracts and trades, as well as supporting the Major League staff and players. Firkus joined the Astros organization in July 2013 and has served as Director, Sports Medicine and Performance since the fall of 2015. Firkus received his bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and his MBA from University of California, Berkley.
Armando Velasco has been promoted to Senior Director of Baseball Operations. In his newly-expanded role, Velasco will continue to oversee minor league operations and the baseball operations at both the West Palm Beach facility as well as the Dominican Republic academy. Velasco will also now oversee the Astros Latin American Scouting operation. Velasco joined the Astros organization from the New York Mets as an intern in January 2014 before being named Director, Minor League Operations prior to the 2018 season. Velasco, a native of Puerto Rico, graduated from Boston College, cum laude, in 2008 and went on to complete his law degree at Tulane University in 2011. While at Tulane, he served as the Chair of the National Baseball Arbitration Competition for two years.
Charles Cook has been promoted to Director of Player Evaluation. In his new role, Cook will drive the evaluation process for amateur players. Cook joined the Astros on a full-time basis in November of 2016 as a baseball operations coordinator. A year later, he was promoted to Manager, Amateur Scouting Analysis, a title he held until today’s announcement. Cook is a graduate of Yale University, where he was a member of the baseball and football teams. Kris Gross will continue to oversee the domestic scouting staff as Domestic Scouting Supervisor.
“These individuals are deserving of these opportunities based on what they have accomplished and what they are capable of contributing” Luhnow said. “I look forward to working alongside them for years to come.”