Johnny Almaraz

Phillies hire new scouting director Brian Barber away from Yankees

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Phillies hire new scouting director Brian Barber away from Yankees

Brian Barber is the Phillies new director of amateur scouting.

The team announced the appointment on Tuesday afternoon.

Barber, 46, pitched in the major leagues with the St. Louis Cardinals and Kansas City Royals. He comes to the Phillies after spending the last 18 years as a member of the New York Yankees amateur scouting department. He spent the last 10 years in the high-ranking position of national crosschecker.

Barber replaces Johnny Almaraz, who stepped down from the position in early September. Almaraz came to the Phillies from the Atlanta Braves in the fall of 2014 and presided over the last five drafts. 

It had been widely assumed that the Phillies would replace Almaraz with Greg Schilz, their No. 2 man in amateur scouting. Schilz, who joined the Phillies as assistant scouting director in the fall of 2016 after 12 years with the Pittsburgh Pirates, was a finalist for the position, but the team ultimately decided to go outside the organization for the hire.

Barber, who was influential in identifying Yankees power hitter Aaron Judge as a first-round talent in 2013, is the latest man with Yankees roots to join the Phillies organization. Major League bench coach Rob Thomson joined the Phillies before the 2018 season after 28 seasons in the Yankees organization, including 10 on the big-league coaching staff.

The Phillies, of course, could add another former Yankee to the organization in the coming days. Former Yankees catcher and manager Joe Girardi remains a top candidate for the Phillies’ open managerial job. He had a second interview with team officials in Philadelphia on Monday. Buck Showalter and Dusty Baker are the other candidates for the post. The Phils could announce a hire as soon as Thursday, which is an off day in the World Series.

Girardi is also a candidate for managerial openings with the New York Mets and Chicago Cubs. He has interviewed with both teams.

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Philadelphia native Mike Koplove emerges as strong candidate for Phillies' scouting director job

Philadelphia native Mike Koplove emerges as strong candidate for Phillies' scouting director job

The Phillies have two huge job openings to fill in their baseball operations department.

Obviously, they are looking for a new manager, and that process ramped up on Monday.

The team also needs to fill the important scouting director’s role. That job opened when Johnny Almarez stepped down in September.

The search for a new scouting boss is being led by assistant general manager Bryan Minniti and it is apparently well underway.

According to multiple major league sources, the Phillies have conducted a number of recent interviews for the position. Among those to interview are in-house candidates Greg Schilz, Mike Koplove and Darrell Conner.

Outside candidates, according to sources, include David Crowson of the Miami Marlins, Sam Hughes of the Chicago Cubs, Brian Barber of the New York Yankees, Dan Ontiveros of the Kansas City Royals and Scott Meaney of the Cleveland Indians. All have high-ranking scouting positions with their organizations.

It’s possible that there are other candidates or more will emerge. But these are the names being talked about in baseball circles at the moment.

Schilz ranked No. 2 in the Phillies’ amateur scouting staff behind Almaraz. He joined the club in the fall of 2016 after 12 years with the Pittsburgh Pirates and was elevated to assistant scouting director in the fall of 2017.

Koplove is an interesting candidate. He is a Philadelphia native who pitched at Chestnut Hill Academy and the University of Delaware before spending parts of seven seasons in the majors with Arizona and Cleveland. He earned a World Series ring with the Diamondbacks in 2001.

Koplove spent six seasons on the scouting staff of the Anaheim Angels before joining his hometown team as a special assignment scout prior to the 2018 season.

Conner is a longtime Phillies scout who has risen to the role of national scouting coordinator. He was influential in identifying Cole Hamels as having first-round potential and staying on the pitcher after he broke his left arm the summer after his sophomore year.

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Phillies scouting director Johnny Almaraz steps down, will assume new role with club

Phillies scouting director Johnny Almaraz steps down, will assume new role with club

CINCINNATI — Johnny Almaraz, the Phillies director of amateur scouting since October 2014, is stepping down from the role, the club announced on Tuesday.

Almaraz will remain with the club as a special assistant in scouting and player development.

Almaraz's change in role is voluntary. He sought the change for personal reasons.

“Johnny has had an enormously successful career in baseball,” general manager Matt Klentak said. “He has been instrumental in the signing and development of many quality big league players. We’re grateful for the five years that he spent leading our scouting department, and we feel very fortunate that he will continue to have an impact on our scouting and player development efforts in a new role.”

The Phillies will fill the scouting director opening in the coming weeks. Greg Schilz is the club’s assistant scouting director. He joined the organization after Klentak came aboard as GM in October 2015. Almaraz was hired during Ruben Amaro Jr.’s time as GM.

Almaraz came from the Braves organization. He ran the team’s international scouting operation and oversaw the signing of young stars Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ozzie Albies.

Almaraz oversaw five amateur drafts with the Phillies. His top picks, in order, were outfielder Cornelius Randolph (2015), outfielder Mickey Moniak (2016), outfielder Adam Haseley (2017), third baseman Alec Bohm (2018) and shortstop Bryson Stott (2019). Haseley is a rookie in the majors and Randolph, Moniak and Bohm played at Double A this season. 

Bohm projects to be in the picture in Philadelphia sometime next season after hitting .305 with 21 homers, 80 RBIs and a .896 OPS in 125 games at the Single A and Double A level in 2019. He and Moniak are slated to play in the Arizona Fall League.

Under Almarez’s watch, the Phillies also selected Scott Kingery in the second round in 2015 and pitcher Spencer Howard in the second round in 2017. Kingery has become a regular in the majors and Howard is the team’s top pitching prospect and could be in the starting rotation as soon as next season.

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