Pirates Lose the Scout Who Signed Josh Bell, Robbie Grossman

According to Rob Biertempfel, the Pittsburgh Pirates have lost top scout Mike Leuzinger, the man who signed Josh Bell in 2011. Leuzinger turned down a contract offer and left the organization. He noted that it stung when the Pirates refused the Yankees permission to interview him, and that the losing was wearing on him.

I’m currently working on the 2013 Prospect Guide, which includes the signing scout of every player. Leuzinger was one of the scouts that really stood out, mostly due to the players he has signed. Aside from Bell, Leuzinger has brought in the following players:

Tony Watson

Robbie Grossman

Vic Black

Matt Curry

Casey Sadler

Duke Welker

Colten Brewer

Ryan Beckman

Robert Kilcrease

Candon Myles

Biertempfel also notes that Leuzinger signed Matt Kemp and Andy LaRoche while with the Dodgers. Leuzinger was an area scout with the Pirates, covering North Texas and Oklahoma. Based on the list of names above, his loss will be a blow to the Pirates’ draft scouting. You could argue that the names above are some of the best players to emerge from each draft.

**He signed two of the top guys who remain from the 2007 draft (which is currently a list populated by 3-4 names), bringing in Watson and Welker.

**Aside from Pedro Alvarez, Robbie Grossman was the next best prospect from the 2008 draft.

**Vic Black is currently standing out as one of the top guys from the 2009 draft, if not the top guy. Ryan Beckman (18th round) has also emerged from that draft as an interesting relief pitching prospect.

**Matt Curry (16th round) and Casey Sadler (25th round) are two later round picks from the 2010 draft who have become prospects. Both players would rank in the top five prospects from that draft.

**Josh Bell and Colten Brewer are two of the top prospects from the 2011 draft. All of the guys I just pointed out got at least one vote in next year’s top 50 prospects list (with the obvious exceptions of Watson and Grossman).

UPDATE: Forgot about Colton Cain, who was also signed by Leuzinger. So that’s two-thirds of the trade that acquired Wandy Rodriguez (Grossman and Cain), and Cain is probably the best prep pitcher from the 2009 group.

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Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • Lee Young

    There must be more to this story?

    He used to scout for the Dodgers, scouted for us and wanted to interview with the Yankees.


    • Tim Williams

      I read it as the Yankees wanted to interview him. He said he didn’t know what the job was.

      • Rebel

        He also signed aaron baker who was used to get d lee from baltimore. Plus Barnes.

  • WNCRoadBowling

    First off that is a big loss.

    However, there is one thing that I don’t really get. The guy is a scout but one of main reasons he left was the losing at the MLB level? I mean the guys the he scouted, and I would think the guys he has the most vested interest, are just now reaching the majors.

    I want a guy to care about the organization and all but for a scout that seems like an odd reason to leave.

    • Lee Young

      Mr RoadBowl….I agree….I think there might be more to this.

      As for him ‘signing’ Josh Bell, what exactly does that mean? Wasn’t every team in on him? Shouldn’t we want a scout who finds the ‘diamond in a rough’ type players?

      Very curious……….

      • Tim Williams

        RE: “signing”.

        With every player there is a “signing scout”. That scout is the guy who watches the player, and recommends the player on draft day. Leuzinger doesn’t get much credit for recognizing Bell as a talent. However, he does get big credit for Bell eventually signing, since he’s one of the main guys who is talking with Bell and his family, trying to figure out what it takes to sign him.

        A lot of teams passed on Bell because they didn’t think he would sign. It would have been Leuzinger who felt that there was a good chance Bell would sign, and he would have played a big role in the negotiations.

        With the “diamond in the rough” type guys, the scout gets credit for the whole process. In this case you didn’t need a scout looking closely to know that Bell was good. However, you needed an area scout to find out the chances of Bell signing, and to play a big role in the negotiations. Considering the situation, that was huge with Bell.

    • Tim Williams

      It seemed like that was secondary. The main thing seemed to be that he couldn’t interview elsewhere, and didn’t see himself moving up with the Pirates.

      I can’t fault the Pirates for not allowing him to interview elsewhere. But considering his track record, he should have been a candidate to move up, and shouldn’t have had concerns that he’d be in the same position for a long period.

      • WNCRoadBowling

        Thanks Tim and reading the full statement it made a lot more sense. Totally agree that it seems like he would have been a guy they wanted to make happy and keep. I would have left if I was in the same spot and felt like he did.

      • Lee Young

        thx Tim

  • emjayinTN

    I came to know a lot of scouts when my sons were going through HS and college, and they are very unique individuals. Each decision or recommendation could be your last, so when they are looking at kids, they are looking at parents, siblings, character, dedication, work ethic, grades, girlfriends, which teammates they hang with, how they are thought of by opposing coaches, and then talent comes into play primarily.

    And, don’t ever think that these kids cannot give you chapter and verse on the organization. Two years ago, this guy might have had a lot of kids laugh when he mentioned he was a Scout for the Pirates. That has changed, and he has no right using that tired excuse about losing. The Pirates are now that team that promotes young players into responsible positions in the Major Leagues. Now, kids want to join that team that has Andrew McCuthen, Neil Walker, Pedro Alvarez, Starling Marte, Jared Hughes, Tony Watson, Bryan Morris, Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon, Jeff Locke, Luis Heredia, Tony Sanchez. A scout with his eye is valuable, but such is life and you move on – many scouts are moving from one team to the next very often these days. It’s the nature of the business.

    • beatembuccos21

      From your first paragraph, I would hope that the scouts are doing a great deal of due diligence. But with Stetson Allie now a hitter, it makes me wonder how good of a job the Pirates did in feeling him out and understanding what it was that he wanted to do. I believe that was a Brian Tracy signing.

      Also, I really want to agree with what you wrote about amateurs wanting to sign with the Pirates. But a quick check from the last two drafts would suggest the opposite. Among teams in the NL Central, the Pirates failed to sign 9 of their top 32 picks from the 2011 and 2012 drafts combined (top sixteen picks from each draft were looked at). Other than the Reds (5/32) no other NL Central team failed to sign more than three of their top 32. And only the Brewers (8th rounder in 2011) failed to sign a top 10 pick. I’m sure there are some circumstances that could plainly explain what went on with each of those nine players that didn’t sign with Pittsburgh. But to suggest that players ‘want to join’ the Buccos doesn’t seem accurate to me. In fact, based on the evidence of which players signed compared with typical signing rates in the NL Central, I could make the opposite case.

      • jalcorn

        Your evidence has a huge caveat because the Pirates have consistently drafted over slot and thus are choosing to take greater risks with signings. The strategy employed dictates that they will sign less players than other teams. It has little to do with the team name at the top of the contract,.

        • Fred Langford

          This statemnt is true under the new system but under the old system you could overspend and still sign a lot of draft picks. I don’t feel like we signed less players than other teams on average in past drafts under Huntington and this year’s draft we didn’t do things any differently than oter teams. Pretty much all teams adhered to the rules.

      • Fred Langford

        All good points buccos21. I think they just got enamored with an 18-19 year old kid that could throw 100mph and had a decent secondary pitch. This has been happening for so long in baseball…arrogant front office guys think they can teach a kid control…sometimes they are right and often they fail. ou do have to question how many teams passed on him. That proves NH was rolling the dice big time. Another issue now that isn’t talked about much is Allie was old for a hs senior so now that he did convert it puts him further behind other kids his age. We have a hitter that will still be in SS ball at 22 instead of 21 if he had been a normal age as a senior. He could jump to The power but it would be a big jump considering what he did in Rookie ball last year. If he does make it he will be 26-27 before he gets to the mlb. 25 if he really gets it together.

        • Lee Young

          Only about 20 percent of 2nd rd picks become viable major leaguers, so it was worth the risk imho.

          Every team knew he was a big gamble, which is why teams passed on him in the first and cop rounds.

          He was worth a 2nd rd gamble in my mind.


          • Fred Langford

            I can agree with that for the most part…it was the money that was the issue. 2.5 mil quite a lot for an 18-19 year old that was raw and did not compete against high level competition. It was all about the 6’4″ 225 and 100mph. I don’t fault the reasoning…but 20 something teams passed on him either because of the pricetag or his rawness.

          • Lee Young

            Why does the money bother you? We had to buy him put of college. It was the price of business.

            Nutting gets blamed for not spending and then he gets blamed for spending too much?

            Can’t have it both ways, Fred.

  • TonyPenaforHOF

    So we just lost one of our best employees in one of our weakest areas? That isn’t great leadership, heck that’s not even average leadership. That’s poor leadership.

    No organization can afford to lose talented people. An organization with such poor results as the Pirates can afford it even less.

    Nutting made a mistake keeping this leadership team in place.

  • Stephen Stull

    I will never understand this organization. If you can’t “afford” to spend on free agents you have to have the best scouts available to make sure you draft and trade effectively.

    I am just about done with this franchise, seriously, it’s ridiculous.

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