The Pittsburgh Pirates announced a series of baseball operation moves on Friday, including the replacement for Rene Gayo. Junior Vizcaino has been named as the new Director of International Scouting. He spent the 2017 season as the Global Crosschecker for the Boston Red Sox. Prior to that, he worked 17 seasons for the Kansas City Royals, with ten years as their National Supervisor. He began his scouting career with the Atlanta Braves in 1994 after spending four seasons in the minors as a player for the Pirates.
Justin Meccage, who has been the Minor League Pitching Coordinator for the last year, has moved up to become the Assistant Pitching Coach for the Pirates. Prior to 2017, he spent six seasons as a pitching coach at various levels of the minors for the Pirates. He had a brief minor league career (2002-03), followed by seven seasons of college coaching before joining the Pirates.
Steve Williams has been named the Director of Pro Scouting. He has 30 years of scouting experience, including the last eight seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He served as their pro supervisor in 2017.
Other moves include:
Sean McNally and Greg Smith have been named as Special Assistants to the General Manager. McNally was a pro scout last year and Smith was an Assistant GM.
Joe Douglas and Justin Newman have been named Baseball Informatics, Quantitative Analysts.
Trey Rose has been named Baseball Operations Assistant.
John Birkbeck and Matt Taylor have been named Scouting Assistant.
UPDATE: Analysis from Tim Williams…
Just a quick thought on Meccage. In the last year he has moved from Altoona pitching coach to Minor League Pitching Coordinator and now to Assistant Pitching Coach in the majors. That rapid progression should be no surprise to those of you who have followed this site for some time, as Meccage has been one of the best and brightest pitching coaches in the system.
One interesting aspect with Meccage being in the majors is his relationship with Tyler Glasnow. He and Glasnow work well together, and some of Glasnow’s best development has come with Meccage as his pitching coach. When Glasnow makes his next jump to the majors, he will once again be reunited with Meccage on a daily basis, which can only help his chances of figuring it all out.
John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.
When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.
Vizcaino sounds like he has a good career pedigree. Go find us some gems Viz!
There was a Sean McNally that played minor league ball from 1994 to 2002, mostly in the Kansas City organization and then coached in the Cleveland minors. He would be in his mid forties now. Is this the same Sean McNally?
Yes. Also the former head coach at Duke. He has been with the organization in various roles during the past few years.
Thank you for your reply.
The Cubs non-tendered Hector Rondon. He intrigues me. Add him to the list of possible bullpen options.
He was set to make $6.2 MM, but clearly there’s no market for him at that price, and I can’t imagine he’ll get many years. He’s better than his results last year, big K numbers, decent control, just a long ball problem last year, otherwise effective.
He would be great for the 8th inning, but I bet he is going to be looking for a closing gig and that spot is in capable hands in the Burgh.
Also, what the hell is going on with their international program? They just giving up?
Huntington’s “exhaustive” search to replace Gayo lasted exactly two weeks and a day.
I would think there is a somewhat small inner circle of scouts who truly know their way around those international hot beds and most team know who they are and who the up-and-comers are, so to speak. Sounds like he has a decent background. Only time will tell if he was the right choice.
This would assume that they started the search right when the firing was announced, and that they didn’t know a replacement was needed before that information became public.
I’m just taking Huntington at his word, spoken on November 15th, the day Gayo was fired:
“We will immediately begin an exhaustive search aimed at securing the very best leader for our Latin American scouting operations.”
But that doesn’t mean he was being honest or literal, sure. I thought that as well.
I never take the public statements literally.
He didn’t wake up on 11/15 and decide to fire Gayo, and start looking for his replacement. I guarantee you things were in the works for quite some time.
He might have wanted to be quick, if there’s something time-sensitive he wants to get done in the international market.
Greg Smith is the Dwight Shrute of the Pirate FO.
Assitant General Manager –>> Assistant TO the General Manager.
Odd that he still works at the family beet farm and is part of the SuperBeets marketing team.
Hopefully, Mr Vizcaino will prove to be a wise hire and our LA signings will nce agan prove fruitful.
Nothing in the write-up referencing extensive experience in LA other than as a “Global” Crosschecker last year for the Red Sox. At the present time, I hope his relationships in Ven and the DR are strong.
Gayo was a supervisor of a team, which presumably is still in place. His function was largely “cross checking”.
Good points and I hope you are right. I wonder if the Pirates or Tim can take this a bit further?
So then Ray Searage isn’t coaching beyond his 2019 contract, right?
Meccage is a rockstar. Sure seems like he could impact a lot more arms through the system than helping out Ray and being Glasnow’s caddy, *unless* they’re grooming him to take over.
My first though is Searage is not long for his position. Pirates must not want to lose Meccage and are bending over backwards to show him how much they love him.
If he gets Glasnow to pitch up to his potential this year, I say Pirates are making the right move. Same goes for Cole and Taillon.
Yeah if this is a chain of command thing then it’s probably good no matter what, but getting Glasnow to be productive would be an awful big cherry on top!
If they’re looking for a win-now approach, fixing Glasnow is among the top priorities, I have to imagine. That said, as good a pitching coach as Searage is, perhaps they think his magic is starting to wear off a bit. He hasn’t been as automatic the past few years, and that might be because hitters are adjusting to the things he’s good at teaching pitchers to do.
Or the pitchers are not nearly as talented as those he helped in the past, ie. AJ Burnett.
Morton, Liriano, and Locke also regressed considerably after a couple years. Even Cole has. Nova’s effectiveness seemed to be temporary. Hudson got worse when he came to the Bucs. I’m not saying he’s a bad pitching coach, but he does have a very specific philosophy, and if teams are coming to expect that from the Bucs, maybe they’re just ready for it now.
All possibilities, sure.
I mentioned on the BD thread that the one missing piece not being talked about is Scott Mitchell, who was essentially above Meccage on the org chart last year.
If this is being set up as another Searage-Benedict situation the Pirates did a really, really fucking good job backfilling coaching talent.
I wonder when we’ll find out who will be the assistant for all of these assistants?
What’s the difference between Assistant GM and Special Assistant to the GM? Is that a “promotion”? I always felt like special assistant is more laid-back job for former star players/managers/etc
Is there a limit to how many coaches a team can have? Will he dress at the games?
I hope he dresses everyday we do not need him walking around the office in his “underwear”.
I believe there is a limit of 8 coaches who can be in uniform for the game. I think Meccage would be 9th in line, assuming the Assistant Hitting Coach (Jeff Livesey) is in uniform.