When farm director Gary Denbo left the Yankees last October to help Derek Jeter rebuild the Marlins’ organization, the Yankees moved Kevin Reese from director of pro scouting into Denbo’s former spot and promoted Dan Giese from assistant director of pro scouting to Reese’s former office.
Reese and Giese, along with pro scout Matt Daley, were brought into the Yankees’ scouting department by Billy Eppler, general manager Brian Cashman’s former assistant, who left to become the Angels’ GM after the 2015 season.
None of the three had scouting experience when Eppler hired them. Reese was contemplating a minor league invite to spring training in 2008, Giese was a cop in San Diego and Daley was working out in anticipation of continuing to play following the 2014 season.
“These guys have an upside. They have instinctive knowledge of baseball. All are big leaguers,’’ Eppler said of the trio. Giese and Daley were righthanded relievers who had brief big league careers and cameos with the Yankees; Reese was an outfielder who received two cups of coffee with the Yankees, appearing in 12 total games in 2005 and 2006.
Once Eppler was sure that Reese didn’t want to play any longer he hired him to be a pro scout starting in 2008. That lasted until he took over as the director of pro scouting in 2015.
Now, he is in charge of what some believe to be the best minor league system in baseball, loaded with high-end prospects such as Gleyber Torres, Estevan Florial, Justus Sheffield, Chance Adams, Miguel Andujar and many others.
Reese, 40, started the job Nov. 1, worked on putting a staff together, went through spring training and the first two weeks of a very cold, wet April.
“The one thing I enjoy is—after covering everyone in the minor leagues to (watching) only ours—it’s more in-depth,’’ said Reese, who credited director of player development Eric Schmitt and director of minor league operations Hadi Raad for helping him get acclimated in Tampa. “I enjoy the ability to drill down.’’
Eppler sees Reese doing very well in a big job.
“He has an understanding of the game and a ton of passion,’’ Eppler said.
As for Giese and Daly, vice president of baseball operations Tim Naehring said their futures are bright.
“Both guys are very talented and will do a good at their respective jobs and have tremendous upside in the game,’’ Naehring said. “They have good scouting eyes, firm grasp of analytics and good communication skills.’’
>> Shortstop Thairo Estrada didn’t participate in spring training because he was recovering from being shot in the hip in January in Venezuela. The 23-year-old made it back to the field on April 18 when he played for high Class A Tampa. Estrada played in 122 games and hit .301 for Double-A Trenton last year.
>> Righthander Albert Abreu, a big part of the Brian McCann trade with the Astros following the 2016 season, started throwing simulated games at the Yankees’ complex in Tampa in late April. Abreu missed spring training after having an appendectomy.