Scouting director Metzler all about teamwork

New department head gives credit to long-tenured staff for Rays' success

May 2nd, 2016
"My job is to balance the perspectives of our evaluators and balance the perspectives of a robust and really good analytical group," said scouting director Rob Metzler.

ST. PETERSBURG -- Rob Metzler is ready to accept the accountability that comes with his job. He's just not ready to take the credit.

The Rays' new scouting director is all about team. A conversation with Metzler, 35, can cover a myriad of subjects, but he always manages to circle back to gush about the people he works with.

"I am not the best scout on our staff by any means," Metzler said. "We have tons of experienced guys who have spent way more time out in the field and experienced way more evaluations from first seeing a player and drafting him. I'm one of the leaders on the team and accountable for what our department produces."

Metzler detoured to praise a lengthy list of people in his department before summing it up.

"These are people who are large presences within our process," he said. "These are people I listen to, and they are major drivers in how we put a board together."

Metzler, who took over for longtime scouting director R.J. Harrison, is responsible for all day-to-day scouting activities within the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico in preparation for the Draft.

"My job is to balance the perspectives of our evaluators and balance the perspectives of a robust and really good analytical group," he said. "I have a different skill set and a different background than R.J. My approach to the job is to balance perspectives. Balance ideas. Use my strengths the best I can."

Matt Silverman, the Rays' president of baseball operations, elaborated further.

"We wanted to build on the department and the processes that we built under R.J.," Silverman said. "Rob learned at the right hand of R.J. and worked with him closely over the years, and [he] was in a great position to take the reins and move the department forward."

Metzler was promoted to director following the 2015 Draft, after spending four seasons as the department's assistant director. Harrison moved into an advisory role where he remains heavily involved in scouting.

Metzler has been with Tampa Bay since 2008, also serving as an intern in baseball operations and an assistant in scouting and player development.

Prior to joining the Rays, Metzler spent two seasons with the Red Sox organization as an intern in scouting and player development. Originally from West Hartford, Conn., he is a 2002 graduate of Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine.

Given the amount of information available to scouting departments about the players they draft in today's climate, the role of scouting director is transforming. A scouting director is now more of an administrator than ever before.

Scouting has "evolved from when I started and the first Draft room I experienced in 2007," Metzler said. "Over that time for me, the amount of information that we have to process, the size of our staff [have increased]. All of that has pointed toward having way more information in the process. There's been an evolution there."

Harrison remains a special person to Metzler.

"I've had no bigger mentor in baseball than R.J.," Metzler said. "He's shared all of his thoughts and ideas with me for years now."

Metzler noted that he asked Harrison what scouting was like "way before I got going."

"[Harrison] said it has massively changed with the number of looks that we have on a guy today," Metzler said. "The information that we have on him, the performance in college, the historical presence of high school players with similar skill sets -- having the capacity to be able to study all of them."

Metzler concluded that the idea is to "learn as much as we can from history" so the Rays can "set the odds in their favor" to make the best decisions.

Metzler is in a unique position. He now leads those he once worked for, which can be a difficult proposition. Silverman believes Metzler is equipped to handle that transition.

"He came up through the scouting ranks on the scouting side and had already gained the respect of our scouts," Silverman said. "That puts him in a position to succeed. But he's a listener and he's a consensus builder. He is focused on getting our processes right and putting us into position to have success on Draft day."