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Major League Scouting Bureau Restructuring Under Bavasi

When Bill Bavasi took over as the director of the Major League Baseball Scouting Bureau in November 2014, he knew change was inevitable. The Bureau has existed in one form or another since 1974, absorbed by the Baseball Office of the Commissioner in 1985, to provide detailed reports and video of draft prospects to all 30 major league clubs. However, in the ever-evolving scouting landscape, the Bureau’s relevancy has waned in recent years. “In the last decade, the way clubs approach scouting has really changed dramatically,” Bavasi said. “We need to, the Bureau, we can’t be the Bureau that I want it to be. We have to be the Bureau that clubs want it to be—that clubs need it to be. “We have to reflect as exactly as we can the current needs of the clubs, and those change a lot.” Bavasi—a former general manager for the Angels and Mariners and son of longtime baseball executive Buzzie Bavasi—spent his first year as MLSB director canvassing clubs, talking with GMs and gathering feedback as to how the MLSB can best serve teams. Despite speculation within baseball circles, the Bureau isn’t shutting down, Bavasi said. Rather, it is going through a “sizable reconstruction” and refocusing its efforts, which will result in the shrinking of some departments and growth in others. “Restructuring to a lot of people who have seen the same thing for a lot of years—that’s a real shakeup,” Bavasi said. “And restructuring is tough. But the toughest thing is it does change the way we go about things.” How exactly will the Bureau change? For one, the focus domestically will shift away from providing detailed reports on the current draft class. Instead, the Bureau will focus on identifying prospects in future classes—looking at the 2017, 2018 and 2019 classes instead of 2016. Furthermore, the Bureau will take on a more administrative role, gathering medical information and video on draft prospects, Bavasi said. He stressed that high-quality video is something all clubs are looking for. “(Clubs) seem to prefer earlier identification on younger players, guys eligible for '17, '18, '19, as early as we can possibly identify them, without reports, without evaluation,” Bavasi said. “We’ll hunt the guys who are eligible in subsequent years and just identify them as guys clubs should look at, and then clubs will go out and evaluate them and form their own opinions on guys.” While the Bureau is scaling back on stateside evaluation, Bavasi said the plan is to intensify efforts internationally. “That’s more of a growth industry,” Bavasi said. “I would say that we would look at the Dominican and Venezuela similarly as we do the draft. Clubs do a great job in those countries and don’t need a whole lot of help getting a really detailed evaluation. “There’s more of a growth situation in Europe and Asia and Australia and Africa, and so I’m more focused on raising the level of the game there and making sure that we’re tracking down the players there.” The Bureau is gradually adjusting and shaping its staff to correspond with the change in focus, and over the course of this year, that will likely lead to more scouts leaving the Bureau. Bavasi said when he first took over as director he informed scouts of the potential changes and encouraged them not to pass up opportunities to work for clubs. “The guys chose to stick around for a year and see what happens, and I had the same discussion with guys this past December,” Bavasi said. “So they’re probably more serious about taking opportunities with clubs, and to this point so far I’ve lost two scouts and two video techs. So that could continue. We understand that. “This is very upfront stuff. We’re very upfront with our scouts and with our people. And it’s really easy to be upfront when we’re saying, ‘Hey, we’re just going to make sure that we service the clubs.’”
Chase Davis Photo By Zac Bondurant Icon Sportswire Via Getty Images

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