Image credit: Kris Kline (Photo by Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post via Getty Images)
It’s typical to see movement and turnover within baseball operations each winter, and that’s true of scouts as well. The 2023-2024 offseason has been especially turbulent on the amateur scouting side as eight different teams have hired a new scouting director or scouting director-equivalent roles.
Some of these moves are inter-organizational promotions that don’t seem to indicate a wholesale shift in scouting philosophy or strategy, while others are pieces of larger front office and organizational shakeups entirely.
Below are the changes we are currently aware of.
- Kris Kline moves from scouting director to special assistant
- Danny Haas (D-Backs) named vice president, amateur scouting
- Brad Ciolek (Orioles) named senior director, amateur scouting
The Nationals have had a significant number of changes in scouting over the offseason. The team cut a number of scouting positions on the pro and amateur sides, and longtime international director Johnny DiPuglia resigned and joined Kansas City’s front office.
On the amateur side, Kline moves from scouting director to special assistant to GM Mike Rizzo. Kline provides some organizational continuity amidst the changes and has been with the team as a scout since 2006. Under Kline, the Nationals have targeted up-the-middle, toolsy hitters and high-upside but risky pitching prospects in the first round. Since 2016, the Nationals have taken the following first rounders: SS Carter Kieboom (2016), LHP Seth Romero (2017), RHP Mason Denaburg (2018), RHP Jackson Rutledge (2019), RHP Cade Cavalli (2020), SS Brady House (2021), OF Elijah Green (2022) and OF Dylan Crews (2023).
The team named Haas its vice president of amateur scouting. Haas joins the Nationals after spending time with the D-backs as a special assignment scout, where he worked on the amateur and pro side for five seasons. Prior to that, Haas worked with the Orioles and Red Sox. He was an 18th round draft pick in the 1997 draft and spent five seasons in the minors with the Red Sox prior to his scouting career. Haas was a key figure in Arizona’s scouting department as the team selected first rounders OF Corbin Carroll (2019), LHP Blake Walston (2019), RHP Bryce Jarvis (2020), SS Jordan Lawlar (2021), OF Druw Jones (2022) and SS Tommy Troy (2023).
Ciolek joins the Nationals as senior director of amateur scouting and will work with Haas once more after the two worked together previously in Baltimore. Ciolek spent 12 seasons with the Orioles and has worked in both scouting and player development roles. He has played a pivotal role in Baltimore’s rebuild, and was named the team’s assistant scouting director in 2017 while also serving as the director of draft operations for 2022 and 2023. In that time, the Orioles drafted three players who went on to become No. 1 overall prospects in the game—C Adley Rutschman (2019), SS Gunnar Henderson (2019), SS Jackson Holliday (2023)—in addition to first rounders LHP DL Hall (2017), RHP Grayson Rodriguez (2018), OF Heston Kjerstad (2020), OF Colton Cowser (2021) and OF Enrique Bradfield Jr. (2023).
- Matt Blood named vice president, player development and domestic scouting
With Ciolek heading 40 miles south to help revamp Washington’s scouting department, the Orioles promoted Blood to head both player development and domestic scouting. He joined the Orioles as the team’s director of player development in Sept., 2019, and since then the team has ascended the organizational talent rankings and become one of the premier player development groups in the league.
Entering the 2019 season, Baltimore ranked 22 overall and under Blood has improved that ranking year over year: No. 12 in 2020, No. 7 in 2021, No. 4 in 2022 and No. 1 in 2023 and 2024.
Blood was the director of player development for the Rangers in 2019, the director of USA Baseball’s gold medal–winning 18U team in 2016-2018 and an area scout for the Cardinals from 2009-2015. Prior to his scouting experience, Blood covered the draft and prospects as a writer for Baseball America.
- Joe DelliCarri moves from senior director, amateur scouting to vice president of scouting
- Justin Horowitz (Red Sox) named director, amateur scouting
DelliCarri spent 12 seasons as the team’s scouting director and has been with the organization since 2005. DelliCarri spent 10 seasons in the Mets scouting department before he joined Pittsburgh, and before his scouting career, DelliCarri spent seven seasons in the minor leagues as an infielder with the Mets and Tigers organizations. He was a 38th round draft pick out of Pennsylvania, and in his time as Pirates scouting director oversaw drafts that landed the team RHP Gerrit Cole (2011), OF Austin Meadows (2013), 3B Ke’Bryan Hayes (2015) and RHP Shane Baz (2017) among others. In recent years, the Pirates have picked inside the top 10, where the team has taken SS Nick Gonzalez (2020), C Henry Davis (2021), SS Termarr Johnson (2022) and RHP Paul Skenes (2023). He will now be involved in player evaluation across the board.
The Pirates hired Justin Horowitz as their director of amateur scouting in November after an 11-year career in the Red Sox organization. Horowitz spent three years as an area scout on the West Coast—where he was responsible for signing seventh rounder Jarren Duran—before moving into a crosschecker role. Horowitz was promoted to a special assistant role in 2020, where he spent the last three seasons, which also included work with the team’s international scouting department.
- Danny Ontiveros promoted to vice president, scouting
- Brian Bridges (Giants) named director, amateur scouting
Bridges comes to the Royals after five seasons with the Giants as a national crosschecker, though he brings previous scouting director experience after serving in that role for the Braves from October 2014 to January 2019.
Bridges is responsible for signing a significant number of big leaguers, both in his time as an area scout—where he signed Jason Heyward, Craig Kimbrel, Mike Minor and Alex Wood—and as a scouting director with the Braves. As scouting director for Atlanta, Bridges was comfortable investing heavily in the high school demographic, and he also helped build a pitching pipeline for the Braves by targeting arms early in the draft: His first-round picks include Kolby Allard and Mike Soroka (2015), Ian Anderson (2016), Kyle Wright (2017) and Carter Stewart (2018).
The most successful draft for Bridges as scouting director is probably his first one in 2015 when he selected Allard with the 14th overall pick, Soroka with the 28th and then signed current franchise third baseman Austin Riley with the 41st overall pick. Additional big leaguers from that 2015 draft class include LHP AJ Minter (2nd round), RHP Patrick Weigel (7th round) RHP Evan Phillips (17th round) and SS Jeremy Pena (39th round). Pena didn’t sign out of high school and later signed in the third round for the Astros.
Ontiveros will be in his 18th season with the Royals. He was previously the team’s director of amateur scouting and spent the 2017-2021 seasons as the assistant director of scouting.
- Frankie Piliere (Mariners) named director, amateur scouting
Piliere has been tabbed as Miami’s new director of amateur scouting as the team heads in a new direction under new president of baseball operations Peter Bendix, following the departures of former general manager Kim Ng and scouting director DJ Svihlik. Piliere previously worked with the Mariners, where he was the team’s coordinator of advance scouting from 2018-2020 and the assistant director of amateur scouting from 2020-2023. Prior to his Mariners experience, Piliere also worked for the Rangers, Guardians and wrote for publications including FanGraphs, Perfect Game and D1Baseball.
- Scott Barnsby moves from scouting director to special assignment scout
- Ethan Purser named director, amateur scouting
Barnsby was the director of amateur scouting for the Guardians for six years from 2018-2023 and moved into a new role as a special assignment scout. He’s been with the Guardians for 24 years and worked as an area scout, regional crosschecker, national crosschecker and assistant scouting director prior to leading the amateur scouting department himself. Under Barnsby Cleveland, has drafted first rounders C Bo Naylor (2018), RHP Daniel Espino (2019), SS Carson Tucker (2020), RHP Gavin Williams (2021), OF Chase DeLauter (2022) and C Ralphy Velazquez (2023). Prior to his scouting career, Barnsby was a 25th-round selection by the Dodgers and pitched as a reliever in two minor league seasons.
Purser was promoted to the team’s director of amateur scouting shortly before Cleveland won the first overall pick for the 2024 draft in the second annual draft lottery. Purser will be in his eighth year with Cleveland and has spent time as an area scout, pro scout, scouting coordinator and spent the last two seasons as assistant scouting director under Barnsby. Before his time with Cleveland, Purser scouted for the Rays and also wrote for Baseball Prospectus and Perfect Game.
- Deric Ladnier (D-backs) named senior director, amateur scouting
- Cam Pendino named director, amateur scouting
General manager Dana Brown is beginning to assemble his own scouting team in Houston after a year on the job, and Ladnier has been brought in from Arizona to be the team’s senior director of amateur scouting. Ladnier has experience running a scouting department with multiple teams. He was the scouting director for the Royals from 2000-2008 and then had the same role for the D-backs from 2015-2021. Ladnier oversaw Arizona drafts that included first rounders SS Dansby Swanson (2015), 1B Pavin Smith (2017), SS Matt McLain (2018, didn’t sign), OF Corbin Carroll (2019) and SS Jordan Lawlar (2021) among others.
Pendino has experience as an analyst, coordinator and director of player evaluation with Houston’s baseball operations department and will now be the team’s director of amateur scouting and work under Ladnier.
- Kris Gross (Astros) named vice president, amateur scouting
Gross joins David Stearns’ new-look front office with the Mets as the team’s vice president of amateur scouting. The two previously worked together in Houston when Stearns was an assistant GM to Jeff Luhnow for the Astros. Gross spent 11 seasons with the Astros and was the team’s director of amateur scouting from 2020-2023. The team had just two first-round picks in that span thanks to penalties resulting from Houston’s sign-stealing scandal, but in 2022 selected OF Drew Gilbert and in 2023 selected SS Brice Matthews. Before he was named scouting director, Gross was a West Coast supervisor, national supervisor and domestic scouting supervisor. He was involved with picks including SS Jeremy Peña (2018), C Korey Lee (2019) and RHP Hunter Brown (2019), among others. Before his scouting career, Gross pitched as a reliever in the minors for three seasons with the Cubs.