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The Blue Jays amateur scouting organization is seemingly thin - 28 people are involved in a draft that covers over 1,500 players.

There's the general manager, assistant general manager, director of player personnel, scouting director, two scouting coordinators, an assistant to the GM, three cross checkers, fifteen area scouts, and three part time Canadian scouts involved in putting a draft together.

Preparing for the draft is a yearlong process. But in that year's time who does what in the Jays organization?

GM and Asst GM: J.P. Ricciardi and Tim McCleary are involved in the draft process providing strategy and direction and see as many amateur players as their schedules will permit. Ricciardi will almost certainly see the player that the Jays will pick in round one, or in the case of Aaron Hill as noted in Chasing Steinbrenner, will take a quick look at and then get as far away from the player as possible as to not tip who the team is most interested in.

Director of Player Personnel: Tony LaCava is very involved in the draft. He helps with the planning and strategy in the preseason and then during the season he will see somewhere around 75 amateur players in preparation for the draft. LaCava's focus is primarily on the more elite players in the draft.

Scouting Director: While JP Ricciardi is the man that sets the philosophy and is ultimately responsible for the draft, the man that Ricciardi puts in control of the Jays draft is Jon Lalonde.

This year's draft was Lalonde's second draft as scouting director. While it's still early, the returns on the 2004 draft are promising. Zach Jackson is already in AAA, David Purcey, Chip Cannon, Curtis Thigpen, and Casey Janssen are in AA, and Adam Lind is having an impressive year in Dunedin.

So what exactly does a scouting director do? A combination of a lot of things. The biggest job is overseeing the scouting operations - hiring the right people, making sure scouts are seeing the right players and utilizing their time and money effectively.

Lalonde also serves as a scout. He says that he spends about 150-200 days on the road each year and will typically scout players drafted in the top 10 rounds.

Oh yeah, and he makes the picks on draft day.

Scouting Coordinators: The Blue Jays have two scouting coordinators, Andrew Tinnish and Alex Anthopoulos, who Lalonde calls "the lifeblood of our operations". They facilitate a lot of the communication between the scouts, cross checkers, and Lalonde. Additionally, they do a great deal of research into players, both medically and statistically.

So for example, a scout may talk with a scouting coordinator about a player they like later on in the draft. The scouting coordinator would then do further research on the player and if things are positive from that research they'd let Lalonde know to keep an eye on that particular player.

It's also common for the reverse situation to happen as well. Lalonde might see or hear of a player and have a scouting coordinator dig further into the player's profile.

Asst to the GM: Once spring rolls around the team brings in Keith Law to help with the draft preparation. Law works with Lalonde and the scouting coordinators, often bouncing ideas off of one another and trying to find ways to separate similar players, often through statistical analysis. As Lalonde notes, "we see the players through one light and Keith can offer an opinion or angle that we just don't consider, but makes a whole lot of sense".

Law also looks at the draft from a global perspective, trying to get a feel for where players will go in the draft and what teams may be interested in particular players. Additionally, he also provides scouting support in New England in the spring and summer.

Cross Checkers: The team's cross checkers, Tom Clark, Tim Huff, and Mike Mangan are scouts that don't have a specific geographic to scout, but rather will scout certain targeted players that either the scouts or Lalonde or scouting coordinators want to have another set of eyes on. Lalonde says that cross checkers will generally see players selected through at least the 15th round of the draft.

Area Scouts: Area scouts, as the name implies, are scouts that are assigned to a particular geographic area in the US, Canada and Puerto Rico. In all there are 15 full time area scouts and 3 part time Canadian scouts, listed below:

Tony Arias	 Andy Beene	Matt Briggs	 Tom Burns	Billy Gasparino	
Joel Grampietro	 Aaron Jersild	Alvin Morrow	 Brandon Mozley	Ty Nichols	
Demerius Pittman Jorge Rivera	Tom Tanous	 Marc Tramuta	Kevin Briand	
Greg Brons	 Jim Fanning	Jean Marc Mercier	

These scouts are responsible for all players in their regions, whether the player is in high school, junior college, or college. Generally the scouts make their own schedules, however, there are times when they are given specific assignments.

During a scout's peak season in the spring it's not uncommon for them to see up to 3 games in one day, and typically they'll scout 40-60 games each month. If there's a tournament setting it's possible that they'll see more that that (since they can see multiple games in the same spot on the same day).

At the park the scouts will evaluate draft eligible players in a number of categories. Each category will get a numeric grade on the traditional 20-80 scouting scale, with increments of 5.

Here's how Lalonde views the grades:

80- Hall of Fame caliber performer
70- Perennial All Star
60- Above average player capable of All Star performance
50- Average Major League player
40- Below average player that would be exposed in extended ML time
30- Not a Major League caliber talent
20- Typical Batter's Box Roster member

In addition to the numeric grades for particular skills the scouts will also add comments to the evaluation to try to add some color to his grades.

The Blue Jays have a Lotus Notes scouting software program from IBM that they use where the scouts can enter in their evaluations on their laptops following the game. Once they do that they will then dial in to Toronto and download the player evaluation into the team's main database.

Draft Days: Leading up to the draft the team brings together the area scouts and the core front office team to sort through the players and come up with a ranking of all of the prospects. Then on the days of the draft the team also brings in all of the area scouts so the full amateur scouting staff is on hand in Toronto for the entire draft giving input on players throughout the draft. (For more details on the workings of draft day head to Jordan's excellent article from last year: Decoding the Draft).

So once the draft is over the staff can relax until the fall, right? Nope. Once the draft ends the summer seasons start up immediately and everyone starts the yearly cycle over again. Tomorrow I'll take a look at the standouts from the Cape Cod League which just concluded.


One of da Box's traditions is to fill out a personal profile. Here's a look at Jon Lalonde:

Jon Lalonde

Position (baseball): Catcher / Third base / Left field

Bats: R

Throws: R

Born (town): Midland, ON

Resides: Mississauga, ON

Major-League Comp to Little League Career: Joe Girardi

Favourite Team: Toronto Blue Jays

Favourite Player (current): Roy Halladay

Favourite Player (all-time): Gary Carter

Best Game Attended In Person: Saw Reed Johnson hit a lead-off and walk-off home run in the same game to beat the Cubs back in 2003. I watched it with my Dad and it was a great game at a time when the Club was really playing well.

Baseball Book: Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella. I used it for a book report in 11th grade.

Favourite Play in Baseball: I love a close play at home because how a catcher handles a throw and blocks the plate tells you a lot about how skilled and tough he is.

Favourite Ballpark: I like Rogers Centre a lot, it's underrated especially with the new turf and screens. The one that comes to mind at the Major League level is Kansas City. In college baseball I love going to Texas A&M.

Striding-To-The-Plate Music: Given to Fly by Pearl Jam

Three Unshakable Baseball Beliefs:
1) Pitchers should hit - I'm not a fan of the DH.

2) Sacrifice bunting before the 7th inning is not a good strategy.

3) Good ballplayers make adjustments, poor players make excuses.

Once again, many thanks to Jon Lalonde for taking the time to talk with us, and thanks to Gerry McDonald and Mike Green who did a great job with the interview.
Amateur Scouting Organization | 14 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Pistol - Tuesday, August 16 2005 @ 01:26 PM EDT (#125736) #
Just to clarify, in the skill scale Lalonde actually left '20' blank. I added the Roster line (which is probably still generous).
Mylegacy - Tuesday, August 16 2005 @ 02:43 PM EDT (#125752) #
Thanks Pistol. I really enjoy this type of article. Good work.

Those scouts must LOVE baseball!

I know Aaron Jersild and Alvin Morrow (both were in our minor leagues at one time), Jim Fanning: is that THE Jim Fanning? and Andy Beene is that a misspelling of a person related to Billy Beane? What about the rest of these scouts what is their backgrounds, any idea?
Mike D - Tuesday, August 16 2005 @ 03:09 PM EDT (#125759) #
Informative and interesting, Pistol. Nice article!
Gerry - Tuesday, August 16 2005 @ 03:18 PM EDT (#125761) #

What about the rest of these scouts what is their backgrounds, any idea?

Don't know specifically but during the interview Lalonde said that a scout should have had experienced professional coaching, meaning that the player should have been part of a US college program or been a minor leaguer.

Pistol - Tuesday, August 16 2005 @ 03:39 PM EDT (#125762) #
"Those scouts must LOVE baseball!"

Yeah, that's a lot of games to watch which probably isn't that bad, but a ton of travel. And then on draft day, on average, you'll have 2-3 players selected that you scouted.

"Andy Beene is that a misspelling of a person related to Billy Beane?"

I took the names directly from the Blue Jay organization list at so I suspect that it's correct.
TangoTiger - Tuesday, August 16 2005 @ 04:11 PM EDT (#125770) #
Great stuff, loved it.
VBF - Tuesday, August 16 2005 @ 07:36 PM EDT (#125796) #
Yea, that was a very informative read. Thanks, PIstol.
Lefty - Tuesday, August 16 2005 @ 08:29 PM EDT (#125802) #
Pistol, I've always wondered how teams approach their scouting of the minors. For example does every team have a birddog scouting Lynx games.

A game I attended earlier this year it was evident that their were at probably two scouts behind home plate. Evidence was the radar guns. I didn't ask these guys who they were working for.

Attending hundreds of AAA Vancouver games, there were usually two or three radars in attendance. One time a guy who identified himself as a Whitesox scout gave my son and I his tickets for the next game, saying he didn't need to see it.

So I've always been curious about professional minor league scouting, whats the process, what are they trying to analyse beyond the obvious, such as in house assesment of a pitchers time from wind-up to delivery to the plate.
Pistol - Tuesday, August 16 2005 @ 08:57 PM EDT (#125805) #
Lefty - I can't say for sure how teams scout the minors and the majors. That was outside of what I was looking to do with the article.

Looking at the team's organizational list at, if you scroll to the bottom, there's 4 'Professional Scouts' listed. Your guess as to how they're deployed is as good as mine.
Gerry - Tuesday, August 16 2005 @ 09:18 PM EDT (#125807) #
The Jays have four professional level scouts. I believe Sal Butera is the major league advance scout. I have met Kimball Crossley, he is the west coast scout for the Jays. He covers all major and minor league teams in the west. I don't think the scouts pay much attention to lower level teams they focus on the major league, AAA and AA teams, probably 40 teams.

From talking to scouts they usually try to see all players at those levels. If you take 40 teams and 5 starting pitchers, that's 200 games, a seasons worth.
TangoTiger - Wednesday, August 17 2005 @ 11:12 AM EDT (#125878) #
Pistol, any idea as to how much money is budgeted for the entirety of minor leagues / development / scouting / draft ?
Pistol - Wednesday, August 17 2005 @ 12:02 PM EDT (#125884) #
Tango - I have no idea, and I'm not sure the team would even give out that information if we asked.

There's a chance it's broken out in the Rogers Annual Report, but I don't remember seeing that much detail in the past (but that may have still been when they weren't full owners of the team and perhaps that changes the amount of detail they have to give).
Lefty - Wednesday, August 17 2005 @ 04:24 PM EDT (#125947) #
The link is a story in usatoday on profesional scouting services.
TangoTiger - Thursday, August 18 2005 @ 02:30 PM EDT (#126051) #
Pistol, ok thanks. I've always been assuming around 15 to 20 MM.
Amateur Scouting Organization | 14 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.