Jays pat themselves on back

Washington Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond hsa been named to the NL all-star team.

Washington Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond hsa been named to the NL all-star team.

BOB ELLIOTT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:07 AM ET

Text messages were flying amongst Blue Jays employees last Sunday — at more than the usual rate.

Congratulatory messages were sent after Ian Desmond, the Washington Nationals shortstop, was named to the National League all-star team.

Desmond was a third-round draft of the Montreal Expos in 2004.

Back then Russ Bove was an Expos scout, Dana Brown was the scouting director and Brian Parker scouting the co-ordinator.

All three now work for the Blue Jays.

“That was our last year together in Montreal,” said Parker, the Jays new scouting director from Tampa. “Major League Baseball still owned the club, we didn’t have money to go over slot. Russ really knew the player, believed he was a high-ceiling kid with an off-the-charts makeup.  

“He struggled in the minors, now he’s going to the all-star game. The kid did it himself but an organization takes pride in that. I saw him that spring, but (the Expos) picking him was all Russ and Dana.”

Desmond was part of three seasons at class-A Potomac (2005-2008) before becoming an everyday player. 

“That’s what you stride for, he was not a high-consensus pick and here he is headed to Kansas City. I sent Russ a text of congrats,” Parker said. “I scouted Steven Strasburg. Desmond was a find.”

Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos phoned Parker after the draft with news Andrew Tinnish was moving to assistant GM and asked if he was interested in the vacancy.

Parker is stepping into a position which has always been important to the Jays.

Initially Pat Gillick and Bobby Mattick made the draft picks. The only men to hold the title of scouting director in franchise history were Wayne Morgan, Bob Engle, Tim Wilken, Chris Buckley, Jon Lalonde and Tinnish. 

Morgan and Lalonde scout for the Jays, and Tinnish has been promoted.

Engle scours Latin America for the Seattle Mariners, while Wilken and Buckley are scouting directors with the Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds respectively.   

“It’s an impressive group and shows why they won the World Series,” said Parker, who describes himself as lucky. “I worked for Russ who ran the draft for the New York Mets, Mike Rizzo, with the Nationals, liked college guys, Chuck LaMarr who had good drafts running Tampa Bay and is with us, Dana who was in Washington, then seeing Alex and Andrew operate the last three years.

“I’ve had the good fortune of seeing a lot of different draft philosophies.”

Parker attended Indiana State University and had intern positions at triple-A Indianapolis as a grounds-keeper and in the Colorado Rockies front office. After working for the Arizona Fall League for two years he ran the Expos minor-league injury rehab program in Florida when Brown was the scouting director and Anthopoulos was the co-ordinator. 

Anthopoulos suggested Parker to Brown when Anthopoulos left Montreal for the Jays.

And when the Expos became the Nationals he was the assistant scouting director under Brown and then was director of baseball operations before joining the Jays.

“Brian is certainly one of our top evaluators, he’s in the same neighbourhood with Andrew, Chuck and I,” said Brown.

In 2010 Parker scouted both the New York Yankees and Nationals for the Jays from rookie-ball to the majors and last year it was the Mets and the Nationals. This year he was a pro cross-checker. 

After being responsible for evaluating 200 to 250 players from two pro clubs, he and his staff will be expected to have the answers on upwards of 1,200 high schoolers and collegians. 

“Taking the job was a no brainer, whether scouting or working in the office, you need organization and communications skills,” Parker said. “The draft is such an important piece. Going forward it will be more important with the lack of compensation picks.”

Besides his scouts, assistant GMs Tony LaCava and Tinnish, plus Brown, LaMarr and the GM himself will evaluate players next spring.

“Alex wants to build through the minors, he’s looking for high-ceiling players, who can compete in the AL East, or help him get pieces he needs,” said Parker.

His first assignment was the Tournament of Stars in Cary, S.C., in June and he stayed to see Team USA high school and college teams. 

Next he’s off to Cape Cod where all the best undrafted collegians spend their summers. 

And later he’ll visit the Canada Cup with Canadian scout Jamie Lehman at London’s Labbat Park.  

“With the Nationals we thought it was important to have a presence in our own back yard and scouted Virginia heavily,” said Parker. “The same is true now ... only with Toronto our back yard is the entire country.”

K.C. USED TO BE SWINGIN’

The last time the all-star game was in Kansas City, the Jays didn’t contribute a base hit or a strikeout.

That’s because the last time the all-star game was at then-Royals Stadium was 1973, three years before Paul Godfrey, Herb Solway and Don McDougall brought the Jays to town for the 1977 season.

Back then K.C. was a four-sport town. 

Len Dawson was quarterbacking the Kansas City Chiefs, who won Super Bowl IV.

The NBA’s Kansas City Kings were flourishing with Scott Wedman and Sam Lacey.

George Brett, John Mayberry, Freddie Patek, Amos Otis, Paul Splittorff and Buck Martinez were on their way to making the Royals the expansion model the Jays would follow. 

The Kansas City Scouts were playing in the NHL. 

Plus the city had state-of-the-art Arrowhead and Royals stadiums and Kemper Arena — all opened between 1972-74.

The Kings reached the Western Conference final in 1981, were sold to Sacramento interests and moved to California after the 1984-85 season.

Only the Chiefs and Royals remain.

WEAVER CAN JOIN ELITE GROUP

If Los Angeles Angels ace Jered Weaver is named the American League starter for Tuesday’s all-star game, he would be the seventh pitcher to make consecutive starts for the AL.

Former Blue Jays ace Dave Stieb started in 1983-84.

In his debut, Stieb pitched three innings allowing one unearned run for the win in a 13-3 romp and the next year at Candlestick Park. In his second consecutive start, Stieb worked two innings allowing one unearned run and a solo homer to Gary Carter.

The other six starters to go back-to-back are: Lefty Gomez (1933-35), Red Ruffing (1939-40), Billy Pierce (1955-56), Whitey Ford (1960-61) and Jim Palmer (1977-78).

Bert Blyleven went 12 years between appearances and Schoolboy Rowe 11 years. Darrell Evans, Tommy John, Rick Monday, Rick Reuschel, Rick Rhoden, Bob Welch and Benito Santiago also went 10 years between appearances.

JAYS GET A+ FOR DRAFT

Not all polling stations have reported.

The deadline for signing drafted players is 5 o’clock Friday, not last Friday as earlier indicated. 

Yet, the key results are in on the Blue Jays 2012 draft class.

In scouting director Andrew Tinnish’s final year, the Jays went 14-for-14 in signing their picks in the first 10 rounds. By drafting and signing seven seniors for $31,000 US they were able to have additional cash to spend on higher picks.

The Jays drafted and signed outfielder D.J. Davis, a high-schooler from Wiggins, Miss., and the 17th overall pick in North America, for $1.7 million.

Then signed Duke right-hander Marcus Stroman (22nd, $1.8 million), Matt Smoral (50th, $2 million), Mitch Nay (58th, $1 million), Tyler Gonzalez (60th, $750,000), Chase DeJong (81st, $860,00) and Anthony Alford (112th, $750,00). 

“I can’t say if it was the best draft of any club, but the Jays had a very good draft,” said one rival scouting director. 

Baseball America will hand out the verdict on how the Jays draft to other teams. But unlike a year ago when first-round pick Tyler Beede went to Vanderbilt University, Davis was signed.

“We liked Davis, same with Smoal. I know he only pitched one inning but it wasn’t an elbow or shoulder injury that kept him off the mound, it was his foot,” said the evaluator. “Our people think Stroman will come quick — as a reliever. Alford was a high-risk sign and they got it done. Does he play football or baseball?   

“I saw Nay, we had him as the No. 1 third baseman with big-time power.”

Whitby’s Ryan Kellogg, who has a scholarship to Arizona State, remains unsigned. The Jays have been discussing numbers with 40th-round-pick shortstop Jose Cuas in the $200,000 range. Is that enough to give up three years at ASU? 

Besides Kellogg, the top-ranked Canadian of the other 11 unsigned Canadians is Toronto third baseman Johnny Caputo.  

A total of 26 were drafted, the lowest total since 1992 due to the fact rounds 41-to-50 were eliminated and British Columbia did not produce one high school draft.


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