Minasians Carve Out Unusual Route To Scouting
What teams look for in scouts has certainly changed over the years.
For a long time, the template for scouts was former players, either as amateurs or as professionals, who wanted to stay around the game. Now it’s often seen as a first step in the industry, a profession increasingly populated by younger area scouts whose playing experience is more limited than those who preceded them.
Then there are the Minasian brothers, Perry and Zack, who both served as pro scouting directors in 2016, Perry for the Blue Jays, Zack for the Brewers. Both were promoted this offseason, with Perry, 36, becoming a special assistant to Toronto general manager Ross Atkins, while Zack, 33, became a special advisor for scouting.
Both were promoted by second-year GMs, men who didn’t hire them to their posts but have come to value their counsel. I reached out to Zack over social media this offseason to explore a story, but when he got back to me he let me know I had the wrong Minasian.
“That’s was actually my dad you messaged,” he said. “He’s gotten a lot of those lately.”
For years, Zack Minasian was the top Minasian in baseball. He’s been in the game since age 14, when he became the clubbie for Tom Lasorda during Lasorda’s second season as a manager in 1966, in Ogden, Utah. The elder Minasian spent the bulk of his career in Texas as the Rangers’ equipment manager, worked 22 seasons for the club, and even followed old friend Bobby Valentine to Boston for the ill-fated 2012 season when Valentine managed the Red Sox.
Perry and Zack, two of Minasian’s four sons, as well as Calvin, the minor league equipment coordinator for the Nationals, wound up following him into baseball, at about the same age as when their father got his start. Zack had kitchen duty; Perry cleaned the bathrooms in the clubhouse for six years. The younger Zack—who has Lasorda as his godfather—said his middle schools years in Dallas’ Metroplex area were action-packed.
“We’d be around when they unpacked the truck in Texas,” Zack Minasian said, “and those road trips to Anaheim, Seattle, Oakland, that would mean we were unpacking the truck at 4 or 5 in the morning. Then I’d leave work to go to school. I’d go to class, then I’d play baseball or basketball after school, and then I’d have to get back to the ballpark for BP.”
The brothers often worked as bat boys at the Ballpark in Arlington. Future big leaguers such as Ken Griffey Jr. and Prince Fielder came through town with their dads when they played and the elder Minasian ran the visiting clubhouse in Texas, and often wound up playing with the Minasian boys in pre game.
“Robin Yount says he remembers seeing me hanging around when I must have been five years old,” Minasian said of the Brewers’ Hall of Famer. “Most fathers who work in other jobs can’t bring their sons to work. We were fortunate to grow up around the Rangers with people like (then-GMs) Tom Grieve and Doug Melvin and (manager) Johnny Oates who welcomed us and liked having us around."
PScouts like to note how players who grew up around the game often have more savvy than the average player, a different sense of what will work and what won’t, both on the field and often in their off-field routines.
The Minasian boys got to see those routines at work in the big leagues, and that it took more than just talent to stay sharp in the big leagues. Now they use the experience they learned in their childhood as pro scouts. Zack also said growing up around the game meant reading BA in the clubhouse and marking up Prospect Handbooks as a teenager, making his own early scouting notes.
“He’s got a bookshelf of them, all marked up, going through what was right or wrong, how players changed,” brother Perry said.
The brothers have worked together on one big trade, when the Brewers traded Brett Lawrie to Toronto for Shaun Marcum, and now they’ve moved up the ranks in their respective organizations.
“I wouldn’t have it any other way, but our path was kind of the opposite of everyone else’s,” Perry said. “We started with seeing major league games from the time we were seven; we didn’t start with amateur games, or by working an area. We started at the top level, but that’s the goal—to find big leaguers. I think when trying to find big leaguers, it helps to at least see a large amount of games at that level.”
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The brothers spent hundreds of hours in big league clubhouses, learning what made those players tick. Now they stay out of the clubhouse, sitting in the scouts’ seats behind home plate, trying to find players who will be the right fit for their respective franchises. They have stayed in the game and found the right fit for lives well spent in the game.