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Giants revamp scouting department

Farhan Zaidi draws from the Brewers and the A’s as he brings in new directors of pro and amateur scouting.

Scottsdale Scorpions v Phoenix Desert Dogs Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

With the Winter Meetings set to start tomorrow, Farhan Zaidi has solidified two key positions ahead of what’s sure to be a week filled with trades and signings by hiring new heads of pro and amateur scouting.

Zack Minasian receives a promotion from the Milwaukee Brewers’ “Special Advisor - Scouting” to the Giants’ Director of Pro Scouting. Minasian is just 34 years old and began his baseball career with the Brewers at the age of 20. His family has a long history in the majors, though, and Minasian’s experience is somewhat like that of Dereck Rodriguez’s: he and his brothers — Rudy, Perry, and Calvin — grew up hanging around big leaguers in the clubhouse thanks to their dad, Zack Sr., who was the clubhouse manager for the Texas Rangers. His dad was Tommy Lasorda’s best friend. That’s a huge demerit for Zack Jr., but this offseason has been all about swallowing the bitter pill of Dodgerdom to make the Giants better.

His bona fides should help swallow that a little bit. Prior to his two-year stint in the special advisor capacity, he was the Brewers’ director of pro scouting from 2010-2016. Here he is talking to the Brewers’ TV crew about the 2015 trade deadline:

If you didn’t watch the video, he gives a really simple description of what his job entails (basically the same one he’ll be holding with the Giants) and how it’s different from the Giants’ other hire this evening in the role of Director of Amateur Scouting:

So, the amateur side oversees high school players, college players, junior college players. On the professional side, we oversee major league players, minor league players, and independent leagues. So, any player in affiliated baseball, I should know — our scouts, our pro scouts should know, and we have to be able to give the rest of the front office scouting reports, and so on and so forth, any information on those players.

He decides where to send scouts to look at players in advance of trades. His age and relative experience in an analytics-driven front office means he and Farhan should speak the same language and have a similar sense of the players in pro ball, perfect for trades but also for any free agent signings that might present themselves over the course of the next week.

Some notable deals during his time with the Brewers:

  • 2012: Zack Greinke to the Angels for Jean Segura (Sickels rated him the Angels’ 3rd-best prospect), RHP Ariel Pena, and RHP Johnny Hellweg.
  • 2014: Arizona Diamondbacks traded RF Gerardo Parra to Milwaukee Brewers for LHP Anthony Banda and RF Mitch Haniger.
  • 2015: Milwaukee Brewers traded CF Carlos Gomez, RHP Mike Fiers and Other Considerations to Houston Astros for RHP Adrian Houser, OF Brett Phillips, RF Domingo Santana and LHP Josh Hader.
  • 2015: Milwaukee Brewers traded LF Gerardo Parra to Baltimore Orioles for RHP Zach Davies.
  • Milwaukee Brewers traded LF Khris Davis to Oakland Athletics for RHP Bubba Derby and C Jacob Nottingham.
  • 2016: Milwaukee Brewers traded LHP Will Smith to San Francisco Giants for C Andrew Susac and RHP Phil Bickford.
  • 2016: Milwaukee Brewers traded C Jonathan Lucroy and RHP Jeremy Jeffress to Texas Rangers for CF Lewis Brinson, RHP Luis Ortiz and Player To Be Named Later.
  • 2016: Milwaukee Brewers traded 2B Jean Segura and RHP Tyler Wagner to Arizona Diamondbacks for RHP Chase Anderson, 3B Aaron Hill, SS Isan Diaz and cash.

He was also, certainly, involved in the trade for Christian Yelich last offseason, but wasn’t the director of pro scouting at the time. It would not have taken a brain genius, though, to know that Yelich was a top talent — BUT! Note that two of the players involved in the Yelich trade — Lewis Brinson and Isan Diaz — were players acquired in other trades. And as you can see, some of these players were on the Brewers’ roster this postseason.

Finally, here’s his LinkedIn page:

I probably should’ve requested to connect with him to see what else is on his page. I can tell you this: his brother Perry Minasian is the assistant GM for the Braves. Does that mean anything for the week? We’ll find out.

Meanwhile, Michael Holmes comes over from the Oakland A’s to lead the Giants’ amateur scouting department, replacing long-time director John Barr. Holmes, 42, has been the assistant scouting director for many years in Oakland underneath Eric Kubota, the guy who was portrayed in the movie Moneyball as a young kid playing video games when Beane promoted him to the position.

Holmes has been the A’s assistant director of amateur scouting for so long that in 2012, Baseball Prospectus ranked him 6th in an article titled “Top 10 Future Scouting Directors”, saying:

6. Michael Holmes - Assistant Scouting Director, Athletics

Holmes—at 36 the youngest person on this list—has followed a path similar to Rikard’s, and in fact followed him as a coach at Wake Forest, joining the staff in 2001. Holmes also played for the Deacons from 1994-97, then spent four years in the minor leagues with the Athletics before becoming a pitching coach.

The A’s hired him in 2004, promoting him to East Coast crosschecker in 2006 and assistant scouting director in 2009.

”He is a very good scout and a very good evaluator,” Athletics scouting director Eric Kubota said. “He’s got a ton of experience, obviously. As important or maybe more important than any of that, he’s a great person with great people skills and he’s a person who would be a great leader of a staff and I think people recognize that.”

Zaidi and Holmes obviously worked together in Oakland, so the familiarity here was certainly a factor, but it can’t have been more of a factor than the unqualified success the A’s have had in scouting and drafting high floor, medium-ceiling talent in greater frequency than the Giants have over the past several years.

John Barr was the Giants’ director of amateur scouting for 11 years. He’s got Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford, Brandon Belt, Joe Panik, and even Andrew Suarez on his ledger. As the Giants note on their own site: “seven of the 13 position players on San Francisco’s 2014 World Series roster were all selected by Barr in the June draft.” He contributed as much to the history of the franchise as any of the names that immediately come to mind, but now his watch is ended.

We don’t know if John Barr will remain with the organization in some other capacity or if Heliot Ramos and Joey Bart are his final shots, but we do know that the Giants just made themselves younger in the brain department with more “modern” baseball sensibilities just as the organization enters its first offseason with a new mindset.

Thank you, John Barr, for all that World Series-winning talent.

And good luck to the new guys. If you screw up the Madison Bumgarner trade, you will never be forgiven.