As Joe Girardi emerges as the favorite to be the Phillies’ next manager, the club has turned to the New York Yankees to fill another important vacancy.
The Phillies hired Brian Barber as their director of amateur scouting, the team announced Tuesday. Barber spent the last 18 seasons in the Yankees’ scouting department, most recently serving as a national crosschecker for 10 years.
A former pitcher who was a first-round draft pick of the St. Louis Cardinals in 1991, Barber will take over for Johnny Almaraz, who stepped down for personal reasons last month after five years of overseeing the Phillies’ selections in the amateur draft.
"Brian has an extensive history in baseball, both as a player and more recently as a talent evaluator," general manager Matt Klentak said in a statement, "and we are thrilled to welcome him to Philadelphia."
Barber, 46, played a role in pushing the Yankees to draft Aaron Judge in the first round in 2013 despite uncertainty that a player who stands 6-foot-7 and weighs 282 pounds could be a consistent major-league hitter.
Like Girardi, who managed the Yankees for 10 years, Barber is well-versed in analytics and using data to aid in the scouting process. The Yankees employ two assistant directors of amateur scouting, one of whom (Scott Benecke) specializes in analytics.
Over the last few years, the Phillies have spent millions of dollars to build an analytics department that was virtually nonexistent under the previous regime led by former general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. Managing partner John Middleton said recently that the club is dedicated to getting better in that area. The Yankees were a forerunner in the analytics revolution.
“The most analytic teams in baseball — Dodgers, Astros, Yankees, A’s and Rays — they have analytics departments that are somewhere between 50% and 100% larger than ours,” Middleton said two weeks ago. “They are enormous. To think this is a fad that is going to fade away is silly.”
The Phillies hired Barber from a large field that included in-house candidates Greg Schilz and Mike Koplove.
Under Almaraz, who is staying with the organization, the Phillies selected infielder Cornelius Randolph, outfielders Mickey Moniak and Adam Haseley, third baseman Alec Bohm and shortstop Bryson Stott in the first round. It typically takes at least five years to evaluate a specific draft, but only utilityman Scott Kingery, Haseley, and lefty Cole Irvin have reached the majors so far from Almaraz’s drafts.