The Mariners are making significant changes to their international program.
Longtime scout Bob Engle, the organization's vice president of international scouting, told the team he will depart when his contract expires Oct. 31. He said he was offered a contract extension but decided not to return, declining to comment further on the circumstances of his departure.
Seattle has also fired Patrick Guerrero, the team's Latin American coordinator and one of the most high-profile scouts based in the Dominican Republic. Industry sources say Engle regarded Guerrero as his right-hand man, and that the decision to fire Guerrero did not come from Engle but instead was made by someone above him in the organization, a rare occurrence for a Latin American scout.
Former Mariners general manager Pat Gillick hired Engle in January 2000. The team has netted a considerable amount of international talent during that time, including Felix Hernandez, Asdrubal Cabrera and Shin-Soo Choo, among many others. Under Engle's watch, the Mariners were among the most aggressive teams not only in Latin America but all over the world. Prior to joining the Mariners, Engle worked for Gillick as a scouting director in Toronto, where he was involved in drafting Roy Halladay, Chris Carpenter and Pat Hentgen, who like Hernandez all have won a Cy Young Award. He began his career as a Midwest scouting supervisor for the Orioles in 1974 and has earned respect across the industry for his scouting acumen.
Guerrero, who is named in honor of Gillick, has been with the Mariners since 2000, when he was hired by Gillick. Guerrero is the son of Epy Guerrero, the former Blue Jays Latin American coordinator while Gillick was Toronto's general manager. Patrick worked in Toronto in 1995, then followed Gillick to the Orioles from 1996-98 before returning to work for Engle in Toronto in 1999.
Under Guerrero's watch in the Dominican Republic, the Mariners signed righthander Michael Pineda, and Guerrero contributed to the club's scouting throughout Latin America. However, in recent years the team has had issues involving Dominican players. The Mariners signed Dominican shortstop Esteilon Peguero for $2.9 million in December 2009, then later reduced his bonus to $1.1 million for undisclosed reasons. The team was also ensnared in the age scandal involving George Soto, the son of prominent Dominican trainer Enrique Soto who used a false age four years younger than his real age to sign for $700,000 in 2007.
In May, the Mariners moved out of Epy Guerrero's complex and into a complex they share with the Dodgers. The team bought land and plans to build a new facility in the Dominican Republic.
“This was a very tough decision for me,” Engle said in a Mariners press release. “I have had a great time in Seattle and am proud to have served with so many fine people in the international department. I cannot thank the scouts and field personnel enough for their dedication and hard work.
“I have to thank (chairman and CEO) Howard (Lincoln) and (president) Chuck (Armstrong) as well as ownership and the many people behind the scenes who are never recognized for their efforts and support. In addition, I want to thank Pat Gillick, Bill Bavasi and Jack Zduriencik for allowing us to expand the international program since my arrival.
“This was a most difficult decision to make, and I am planning to take the remainder of October to spend time with my family and assess my future and if I want to retire or remain in the game.”
In the release, Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said: “I want to thank Bob for all of his efforts on behalf of the Mariners. He and the international group that he led have done important work in identifying and signing players from around the world for the Mariners, including Felix Hernandez, Jose Lopez and many others that have made an impact on our major league roster.”
Armstrong added: "On behalf of the Mariners organization and myself, I would like to add my thanks for Bob for his work over the past 13 years. And on a personal note, I would like to thank Bob, and his wife Barbara, for both their friendship and the passion which Bob brought to his work.”
Update, 3:40 pm ET: Zduriencik e-mailed Baseball America and said that, per club policy, the club does not comment on personnel changes, but added: "We are thankful and appreciative of Patrick's efforts and contributions to the Seattle Mariners, and we wish him the very best in his future endeavors."
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