Evaluating the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Amateur Scouts

One of the most important aspects in any organization is the amateur scouting department. That is especially important for a small market team like the Pirates, who need their star players to come from the farm system. Despite this importance, there is very little ever reported on the scouts, outside of when they enter and exit the organization.

Those of you who have been buying the Prospect Guide over the years (the 2016 book can be purchased here) know that we include the signing scout for every prospect in the farm system. That gives some sort of reference as to the performance of each scout, although it’s still not a lot of information.

The shortage of information is league-wide. Prospect coverage has just started to take off in the last few years, but even that coverage is limited. Take this site, for example. The Pirates are one of maybe five teams in baseball to have an independent full-time prospect site with writers providing live reports on the prospects. We’re not even to the point where every team has a site like this, and it may never get there. We’re also not to the point where those sites take the next step and start taking a deeper look at the scouting process.

We’ve scratched the surface of this by including scouting information in the books, but I wanted to take it a step further. I went through the 2016 Prospect Guide and tallied up the signings for each scout in the system. I gave them scores in two categories, trying to get some sort of view on how good the scouts have been. It’s definitely not a final grade by any means, but it’s a way to get things started.

Below is the table with the results, but first, a description of the process I used.

The Ratings

Grade Score – We give every prospect in the US part of the system a Grade ranging between 2-8. The scale is meant to replicate the 20-80 scale, and the grades represent the player’s likely upside (usually toned down a bit from their overall ceiling, to make the rating a bit more conservative). The Grade Score combines all of the grades for every player a scout signed. The disclaimer here is that I didn’t want organizational players (2.0 Grade) playing into the rankings, so I scaled every player down 2 points. A 2.0 rating is worth nothing. 3.0 is worth 1. And so on.

Top 50 Score – If a scout signed a player in the top 50, he gets points for that player, with the points going in inverse order of the rankings. Number one gets 50 points, number two gets 49, etc. For players who just missed the top 50, but were in the final tier, I awarded one point.

Players in System – This is how many players a scout had in the US portion of the system. This does not include guys who spent the 2015 season in the DSL.

Top 3 in System – The top three players currently in the system who each scout signed. Some scouts don’t have three. Again, this is only based on guys in the US, and doesn’t include 2015 DSL players.

[table id=12 /]

Before I break these results down further, I wanted to throw out a few disclaimers. First, it’s easy to present this information in “ranking” form, but this is not a ranking. The reason for this is that scouts who have been around for several years have an advantage over a good scout who has been around for just one year. As an example, Derrick Van Dusen had been in the system for one year, but signed Kevin Newman in his first draft. Meanwhile, Rick Allen signed Kevin Kramer this year, who is lower rated than Newman. But Allen ranks higher, because he has the best guy in the system under his belt, Tyler Glasnow. I don’t know if Van Dusen will follow the 2015 draft up with a lot of other top prospects, but if this were a ranking, he’d be at a disadvantage no matter what, due to just one year in the system.

I also want to point out that some of these scouts are no longer in the system, or at least no longer scouting in the system. Mike Leuzinger left after the 2012 season, but still has Josh Bell, Barrett Barnes, and Casey Sadler to his name. Larry Broadway was a scout briefly, before becoming the Director of Minor League Operations. During his scouting days, he signed Nick Kingham. Brian Selman is another guy who was a scout briefly and jumped to the Minor League Operations side, signing Chad Kuhl before he made the jump. Mike Steele was a pitching coach in the organization, became a scout for one year, signed Cole Tucker, then left to become an assistant coach at Long Beach State.

There’s also the disclaimer that by only including signed players, we don’t get the full scope of what a scout has done. The signed players don’t represent everyone a scout has looked at and recommended. Just the players who were actually drafted and actually signed. There could have been other players who either didn’t sign, or who the Pirates didn’t get a chance to select. The signed players also don’t give a complete picture, since some of those success stories can be chalked up to development, just as much as scouting. So overall, it’s extremely difficult to get a full evaluation of scouts, between the lack of information, and a difficult way to grade and evaluate their success and failures.

With all of that said, here are some notes and thoughts on the scouts who are still in the system.

The Scouts (US)

Trevor Haley – He’s been in the organization since 2008, and has a ton of signings in the top 50. He started his scouting career by signing Pedro Alvarez, and has since added Jameson Taillon, Tyler Eppler, the recently traded Trey Supak, and J.T. Brubaker. His top three above doesn’t include Supak, since he’s out of the system, although I included Supak in the rankings. Haley doesn’t really need it though. Outside of his top three (who are all in the top 31 prospects in the system), he’s got the following top 50 prospects: Cody Dickson, Wyatt Mathisen, and Erich Weiss. That gave him seven players in this year’s top 50 before the Supak trade. Based on the results, it looks like he does best bringing in pitching talent. He scouted Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Western PA, and Eastern Canada in 2015.

Darren Mazeroski – The son of Bill Mazeroski has been a scout since 2006, one of the few to remain from before Neal Huntington took over. Outside of his top three above (Clay Holmes, Adam Frazier, Casey Hughston), he has Logan Hill in the top 50, plus Taylor Gushue and Jacob Taylor just missing the cut. He also signed Alex Presley, Kyle McPherson, and Phil Irwin in the past. That last group didn’t do much collectively, but as far as prospects go, they were all late-round values. Logan Hill is my late round sleeper from the 2015 draft. It looks like there could be a trend here. Mazeroski scouted Alabama, Mississippi, and North Florida in 2015.

Rick Allen – He only has four players in the system right now, although one of them is the big one, with Tyler Glasnow being drafted in the fifth round in 2011. Even bigger than that, he claims Gerrit Cole from the same draft. So obviously he specializes in finding franchise changing aces. More recently, he has added 2015 second round pick Kevin Kramer and 12th round pick Ty Moore. He’s been a scout in the system since late-2006, and scouted Central California, Los Angeles, and Hawaii in 2015.

Jerry Jordan – He’s a long-time scout who has been with the organization since 2011. His first big pick in the organization was Alex Dickerson that year. He was also responsible for drafting former Pirates All-Star closer Mike Williams when he was a scout for the Phillies. More recently, he is responsible for Austin Meadows, Austin Coley, and Scooter Hightower. He scouted Georgia and Tennessee in 2015.

Nick Presto – He joined the Pirates at the end of 2011. His biggest pick so far has been Max Moroff, although he has some other interesting guys in the top 50 (Montana DuRapau) or just outside of the top 50 (Seth McGarry, John Sever, Michael Suchy). Looking at that list, he’s done a good job of finding relief prospects, with DuRapau being one of the top relievers in the system, Sever being a potential power lefty, and McGarry having late inning potential. Presto scouted Florida and Puerto Rico in 2015.

Max Kwan – Kwan has been a scout with the Pirates for the last two years, landing an interesting player in each draft. His first big pick was Gage Hinsz, who is one of the more interesting arms in the lower levels. In 2015, he added Mitchell Tolman, who showed a lot of promise with the bat in Morgantown and ended up just outside of our top 30. Kwan scouted Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, Wyoming, and Western Canada in 2015.

Tyler Stohr – He’s no longer in the system, as he joined the Rays as a Professional Scout this off-season after his one year in the system. During that one year, he signed Ke’Bryan Hayes. He scouted Southern Louisiana and Southern Texas in 2015.

Derrick Van Dusen – He’s another scout who has been in the organization for a year, scouting Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Las Vegas, and El Paso in 2015. He signed the first round pick, Kevin Newman, along with Bret Helton and Chris Plitt. He pitched in the Pirates’ organization in 2005 with Lynchburg.

Matt Bimeal – He’s been in the system since at least 2007, and signed Jordy Mercer and Matt Hague in the 2008 draft. His more recent contributions have included Mitch Keller, Frank Duncan, and Chase Simpson. Bimeal scouted Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska in 2015. He pitched in the Pirates’ organization from 2003-2004.

Dan Radcliff – Radcliff is another guy who has been in the system for just one year, and the Pirates leaned on him quickly, taking four guys in 2015. The biggest one was Brandon Waddell, followed by Nathan Trevillian, Sean Keselica, and Shane Kemp. He scouted Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Washington D.C., Southern New Jersey, and Eastern Pennsylvania. He had previously scouted for the Angels, with one of his most notable signings being the late Nick Adenhart.

Brian Tracy – He’s the son of former Pirates’ manager Jim Tracy, and was drafted by the organization in 2007. He spent just one year in the minors, and became a scout with the Pirates in 2009. His highest profile pick was Stetson Allie, although his highest rated picks right now are Connor Joe and Billy Roth. He scouted Southern California in 2015.

Mike Sansoe – The Pirates brought him in at the end of 2011. His only three players in the system right now are Jordan Luplow, Tom Harlan, and Justin Maffei. He also signed Tyler Gaffney, who spent one season in the system, then went on to play college football, and later went to the NFL. Sansoe scouted Northern California and Nevada in 2015.

Anthony Wycklendt – He’s been a scout in the system since 2010, with his biggest signing being Mel Rojas Jr. He’s also added John Kuchno, Brett McKinney, and Ryan Nagle in recent years. In 2015, he scouted Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

Sean Heffernan – The Pirates recently promoted Heffernan to a Regional Supervisor’s role, replacing Rodney Henderson in the Southeast Region after Henderson was promoted to a professional scouting role. Heffernan has been a scout in the organization for the last four seasons, with his highest ranked pick being Jacob Stallings. He also added James Marvel this year on an over-slot deal, with the college pitcher returning from Tommy John surgery. Heffernan scouted North Carolina and South Carolina in 2015.

Phil Huttmann – Huttmann was previously with the Royals, where he signed Alex Gordon. He also signed Erik Cordier and Adam Wilk, who later became Pirates’ minor league free agent signings, possibly due to his involvement with the team. He has been in the organization since late-2011, starting on the pro scouting side. His recent amateur picks have included Ike Schlabach and Jerrick Suiter. He scouted Northern Texas, Oklahoma, and Northern Louisiana in 2015.

Steve Skrinar – The Pirates added Skrinar at the end of 2013 as an area scout, after he was a scouting assistant in 2013. He has since signed Kevin Krause, Nicholas Economos, and Daniel Zamora. Krause was a top 50 prospect last year, but underwent Tommy John surgery and missed the 2015 season. Skrinar scouted Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New York, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Northern New Jersey in 2015.

The Scouts (International)

Rene Gayo – The one person on this list who doesn’t need an introduction is Rene Gayo. It’s no surprise that he finished with the highest score for each category, along with the most players in the system, as he’s the top signing scout for every Latin American signing in the system. He shares each signing with a local scout, and those scouts are also included in the rankings, and detailed below.

Juan Mercado – Mercado is the scouting supervisor in the Dominican Republic, which means he gets a lot of the top prospects. This includes 2015 breakout prospect Yeudy Garcia, along with recent big bonus players like Adrian Valerio and Michael De La Cruz. His signings also include Hector Garcia, Yoel Gonzalez, Sandy Santos, Edison Lantigua, and Raul Siri. Mercado has been in his role since the end of 2011.

Rodolfo Petit – He’s the scouting supervisor in Venezuela, which gives him all of the prospects who came from that area, such as Elias Diaz, Jose Osuna, and Elvis Escobar. He also signed Ramon Cabrera in the past, along with Exicardo Cayonez and Diego Moreno, who were traded for A.J. Burnett. I’m not sure how long he has been in the system, although I’ve seen signings that date back to 2004.

Orlando Covo – He’s the scouting supervisor in Colombia. The Pirates haven’t signed a lot of players from there, with just three currently in the system. The big one is Harold Ramirez, although Luis Escobar and Tito Polo are also breakout candidates in the back of our top 50. His biggest signing since joining the system was Dilson Herrera, who was the big key to the Marlon Byrd trade in 2013. He also had Yhonathan Barrios, who was traded this year for Aramis Ramirez. From what I can tell, Covo has been in the system since 2008.

Fu Chun Chiang – He’s not a member of the Latin American team, but scouts Taiwan. He’s been active there, getting Jin-De Jhang and Wei-Chung Wang in recent years, with Jhang currently sitting in the top 50 of the system. He’s been in the system since 2009.

Jesus Valdez – Also known as Jesus “Chino” Valdez, he’s the scouting supervisor in Mexico, which means his most notable signing has been Luis Heredia (although pretty much everyone in the organization was involved in that one). He also has Carlos Munoz to his name. I’ve seen his name linked to signings in the organization since 2006.

Cristino Valdez – He’s a scout in the Dominican Republic, although he doesn’t have as many signings as Mercado. His top guy is Clario Perez, followed by Edwin Espinal. He was listed as a signing scout for Samuel Inoa, who received one of the biggest bonuses on the international side this year. I’ve seen him mentioned in the system since 2008.

Victor Santana – Another scout in the Dominican Republic who doesn’t get attached to a lot of signings. In fact, his sole player in the US portion of the book is Yoel Gonzalez. He was listed as a signing scout for Kevin Sanchez, who was the top international signing by the Pirates this year. I’ve seen him mentioned in the system since 2012.

Tom Gillespie – Gillespie is the scout for Europe, although he also scouts Africa, as he recently signed Gift Ngoepe’s younger brother. His other signings are Vince Deyzel, also from South Africa, and Paul Brands from The Netherlands. He scouts areas where you don’t usually find baseball talent, so he’s not going to end up with many players, or many non-organizational players. He joined the Pirates for the 2012 season.

Tony Harris – He’s the scout in Australia, along with a manager in the Australian Baseball League. The Pirates have been active in the country in the past, although it hasn’t led to anything, and their signings from the area have cooled in recent years. Harris joined the organization in 2009.

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Great work Tim Williams on an area of baseball seldom seen anywhere else. You need top flight scouts to be sure, but at the top you must also have a steady, knowing hand to see potential when it shows up. Now that the Pirates no longer have the luxury of drafting high as with Alverez and Cole, it remains to be seen if Huntington and crew are up to the job.

Some of Huntingtons best innovations are no longer a secret, i.e.picking off Josh Bell in a later round via the overslot; grabbing a Korean talent such as Kung; loading up the relief corps with mid 90’s pitchers; etc. Keeping this team competitive especially with a newly bankrolled Chicago team in the division isn’t going to be easy.

And then there were the innovations that didn’t work, i.e. running U.S.Marine style on the California beaches; holding a nationwide contest in India among spear chuckers to find a pitching gem, etc. Give Huntington a “E” for effort on these.

Bruce Humbert

Great article Tim – thanks a bunch – this is the kind of thing that makes the site special…

I know we are getting close to Pitchers and Catchers reporting – I would love an article or two that gave some detail on what Spring Training is like for a guy like for a young pitcher – Tailon, Kingham or Glasnow and a young hitter like Bell or Meadows. I think all of them will be in Minor league camp – but some or all of them may get ML ST game action.


Fantastic. Articles like this are why I suscribe.

Bill W

I thought it was for the free peanuts?


One of the more interesting dynamics within this organization under Huntington, to me, has been the difference in success between amateur and pro scouting. Despite so much emphasis on drafting, pro scouts – the guys who’ve found the catchers, reclamation pitchers, even Josh Harrison – have been far and away more successful.

My first reaction is that this is due to greater analytic ability; we know for a fact that analytics have played a heavy role in finding the catchers and pitchers, for instance. Framing and defense behind the plate, xFIP < ERA, K-rate, etc on the mound. But particularly with pitching, the fact that that Benedict & Co have had so many good results make the amateur scouting – the guys providing Benedict with kids out of the draft – look that much worse. An obvious, necessary area of improvement.

Bruce Humbert

Suggesting that anyone “found” Josh Harrison ignores the facts that Hurdle did not want him in Pittsburgh – Huntington saw no role for him and if they had not had an “emergency” he would still be bouncing around in AAA or playing for another team.

Got to Fangraphs and point out something that made him more that AAA depth prior to 2014.


That’s not how scouting works, Bruce…

Luke S

Since you know NH, whats he like?

Michael S

I’d think that pro scouts have some advantages: they’re looking at somewhat older, more mature players, and they see them against more robust competition.


Who scouted the Steve’s? And are these the same scouts that are involved in player trades when we hear rumors that the bucs send scouts to other teams games prior to a trade happening?


The guy that evaluated Tarpley and Brault before the trade ever happened. He clearly evaluated them very well and helped make that trade a steal for pitching talent.


Have you thought about a grouping of the independent scouts like Mal Fichman for example who signed Holdzkom?


Somewhat surprise that states like Ca, Fl, Ga, and Tx are not saturated with scouts. It seems that they have a scout covering a huge area, is this the norm?


Absolutely my first thought! Also that many scouts they do have covering those areas are rather new in their positions.


Anyone else downloaded the app yet? Just got it and love it. But i am having trouble with the player pages. Every time I click on a players name it ends the app. Anyone else have this problem?

Phil W

Great article! Any insights on how these scouts are compensated? I assume the local/area guys are doing it for the love of the game, and not the money. Is it performance based comp based on signings? Saw 20+ scouts at one of my son’s HS games last year scouting Kyler Murray, who ended opting out of the draft. Things didn’t go so well for him as Texas A&M QB.

Bill W

Nice summary and maybe I missed it but what if a player is scouted and does not sign because of issues outside the scouts control? Money, going to college, playing different sport? I assume that this system would penalize that scout.

Bill W

Sorry – I got caught up in the declining value of my portfolio and now may need to start a prospect site for the Diamond Backs. Do you need to have a taste for craft beer before you start the site? or do you acquire one? lol


Every time I hear the name Rene gayo I think of the short skit “Gayo” the mayonnaise for gay people. I think it was on tosh.0 or something.


I’m sure this took quite a bit of research, and that is much appreciated, but any thought behind maybe a follow-up outlining the Pirates scouting process? Do they have a traditional area scout > crosschecker system, and if so, who are the guys in charge of pulling the trigger?

Definitely something I can imagine would be difficult to research.

Steve Zielinski

It’s difficult for outsiders to evaluate amateur scouts because the value they produce can be found in the quality and accuracy of the information they provide. We seldom get to see that information. Moreover, Blind Bob could have signed Cole or Taillon. Those two sat atop prospect lists and were drafted at talent-appropriate spots. The scouts that signed those two were lucky enough that they had an obvious choice in their area and the FO actually took the relevant player.

Imagine the scout jumping up and down yelling Kershaw, Kershaw while Littlefield crossed him off his list because Kershaw had a bad outing when the mighty pompadour saw him pitch. (The Pirates took Brad Lincoln instead.) A scout can perform admirably while suffering superiors who pass over his recommendations.

This is just an area that will be difficult to evaluate.


Don’t forget lincecum (who was my guy), scherzer, Andrew Miller, Ian kenedy, and even Brandon morrow would have been better than Lincoln. That was a great first round for pitching. Hochevar, Bryan Morris and josh bard too. I remember hearing Lincoln could be a 3rd starter or a great reliever and thinking “they are drafting quite possibly a reliever with the 5th pick? Disgusting. I hope to never go back to those days as a fan.

Steve Zielinski

Insofar as I can recall, Lincoln was a credible pick at the top of his draft class. But Kershaw was a Hall of Famer in the making, who quickly advanced to the Major Leagues, and then became a top pitcher of his generation. What did Littlefield see that convinced him to cross off Kershaw.

Littlefield had to be bullied into taking Cutch, another superstar…..

By that point, I had abandoned all hope for the Pirates and only endured the seasons and their major events. I had no preferences before every draft. I evaluated their performance after the fact.


Bauer is a Hart High grad. Tyler Glasnow also a Hart High grad. You scout where the talent is. I am a Hart and UCLA grad. Todd Ziele graduated from Hart and UCLA. Ziele played 15 years in the majors.

Steve Zielinski

I wasn’t a Cole fan, and even less of a Bauer fan. My preference order for the first pick: Rendon > Bundy > Cole. I dropped Rendon when someone with a bit of inside information told us (at BD) the the Pirates medical staff advised against picking Rendon. So, for me, it became Bundy or Cole. Bundy fell apart. Cole has become a #1 starter. Based on stuff alone, Cole’s success was inevitable. He only needed to fix whatever it was that permitted college hitters to hit him. Of course, needing to fix whatever means his success was not inevitable.

I believe the Pirates scouting director saw in Cole a verlander clone.

Bruce Humbert

Cole still does not seem to miss as many bats as a true ace should. Great pitcher and the Bucs are fortunate to have him – but he seems to get into innings where he is rather hittable more often than an ace should.



This looks like a great article but I don’t have the time to read it all right now. However I seen a point I had a question about. You mention the lack of prospect coverage for other teams, it has always been a curiosity of mine if you ever considered trying to expand your business to cover other teams.

I know it’s none of my business either way but you have stated before you are not a Pirates fan so it kind of seems like prospects in general are an interest of yours.


I would love to see you guys take on the Penguins. With Junior Hockey, College, and European Leagues it is hard to follow Pens young players after draft day. Plus …. PenguinsProspects sort of has a nice ring.
BTW .. Great job on the PP.


I didn’t necessarily mean you personally doing all the work. You’ve assembled a good team here and I would think you could assemble groups for other teams.

Think of it as MLB Prospect Co. With many different branches and you serving as CEO of the whole enterprise.

David N

Tim: I love everything you’ve done with this site, but you’re sounding like the guy in Seattle who wrote the disc operating system (DOS), then sold it to the guy with the larger vision (Bill Gates). I think your fans are trying to tell you there might be wider demand for what you’ve created with Pirates Prospects. Maybe you need to visit the Shark Tank or Marcos Limonas (sp).

Bill W

And you have KANGED it!


You could do a panthers prospects. College recruiting is the closest thing to me to baseball as all the kids are developmental and many are hyped. College football is already heavily covered though. I’m an Ohio st fan and I follow their recruiting as much as I do the Pirates minors almost.


The only thing I see missing from this analysis is draft failures should be counted as a negative. Use the same point scale as before(50 pts for round 1 and descend from there) and use this as a subtraction column. Players traded for other players do not count against. Only go back for a set period, say no further back than when a player could leave as a minor league free agent.

Brian Bernard

This article makes me wonder just how much the scouts actually matter, as guys who were here and gone in the same year get their picks (Like Hayes) as a #1 , and other guys more senior not so much.
Not sure if the national ratings system is taken into account along with scout projections?


Excellent article! One one the things that I appreciate about PP is that I do not have to wade through a bunch of trash in order to get to the comments section!



What are the other four independent prospect sites?


Thanks! I really appreciate the control issue and keeping the trash ads off the site. That is one of the biggest reasons that I subscribed. It is also nice that only subscribers can post. That helps make PP a classier looking operation.

Brian Bernard

Well they have zero prospects to cover, so….


I was wondering that too!


Fantastic work, gentlemen!


So it looks as if, with a couple exceptions, the entire scouting staff has turned over from the Littlefield days. When did most of this transformation take place? Is it fair to say that the 2008 and 2009 drafts were based mostly on the recommendations of Littlefield era scouts and that only since say about 2010 have the majority of the scouts been Neil Huntington hires? What are the given instructions that the scouts are given to look for, other than the obvious generality of elite baseball talent. It seems in recent years they have trended away from power to contact skills for the position players.

Nuke Laloosh

Very interesting article. I was interested in seeing who was finding talent outside of the first round. The first round talents are the easy finds, the players that everyone is scouting.


Finding talent outside of the first round is a crap shoot (more than the first round, which in and of itself is a crapshoot).

No team consistently does it (some teams, like the Cards, have spurts). From the 2nd round on, (about 15%) the percentages of finding a viable major league starter (even a poor one) goes down with each round.

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