Behind The Scenes
It won’t be long until a bunch of Phillies will spring into action for the 63rd year of spring training in Clearwater, FL. Everyone knows the names on the World Champions.
It won’t be long until another bunch of Phillies will spring into action. Many of these names are not household names. This group is the team’s 11-man pro scouting staff, a group that expanded under Ruben Amaro Jr.’s direction this winter.
Mike Ondo, Professional Scouting Coordinator, is the ring-leader, point guard, assignment editor or director. His role is to organize the expanded staff.
“We will cover every pro league, from the majors down to the low-A, full-season clubs during the season,” explains Ondo. “In addition, we will cover ever major league spring training camp. We’ve just completed winter ball coverage, three scouts in each of the Venezuela, Dominican and Mexico Leagues and one person in Puerto Rico.
“Once the short-season clubs begin playing (mid-June until end of August), some of our amateur scouting staff will swing over and follow those clubs. The goal is to scout every professional player,” Ondo added.
Amaro is constantly searching for ways to improve the club. He has weekly conference calls with his staff and the pro scouts, gathering information. Those calls will soon feature updates from the Florida and Arizona spring training camps.
During spring training, Charley Kerfeld will work out of Clearwater and scout teams in western Florida; Gordon Lakey, Del Unser, Jim Fregosi Jr., Dean Joungewaard and Jerry Lafferty will be in Arizona. In addition to Kerfeld, Florida coverage will include Howie Freiling, Hank King, Jon Mercurio, Sonny Bowers and Roy Tanner. Each will be assigned three or four clubs.
Craig Colbert, the new advance scout, will spend early spring training with the Phillies getting familiar with those players. In mid-March, he’ll start following the clubs the Phillies will be facing in early April, Atlanta, Colorado and Washington, meaning his life will be Florida-Arizona-Florida.
During the regular season, Kerfeld will be Amaro’s chief roamer in the majors and minors, Lakey will see all major league clubs; Fregosi, NL teams/minors; Freiling, AL teams/minors with Bowers, Jongewaard, Unser, Mercurio, King, Lafferty and Tanner spending time with various minor league clubs.
Weekly reports are filed via computer within a week after seeing their clubs. Those reports arrive on Ondo’s PC in his Citizens Bank Park office. He, in turn, provides e-copies to Amaro’s staff.
All this information comes in handy during trade talks, potential waiver claims, signings of released players and the Rule 5 draft.
In December of 2004, the Phillies selected a player in the winter Rule 5 draft because they had good scouting reports from the minors and winter ball on a speedy outfielder. Say hello to Shane Victorino, one of the many stars on the World Champs.