Tigers expand front-office scouting, analytics

Tigers expand front-office scouting, analytics

DETROIT -- The Tigers officially joined the trend of clubs expanding the organizational depth off the field. With the announcement of three new Major League scouts, nine amateur scouting appointments and three analytics additions, first-year general manager Al Avila continued the organizational restructuring he had discussed since he taking the job in August.

The moves help the Tigers catch up with other organizations on a number of fronts, not just with analytics, but with in-depth scouting.

Former Blue Jays assistant general manager Jay Sartori was officially named senior director of baseball operations and analytics after joining club officials at the General Managers Meetings last week.

Sartori spent two years with Apple managing the sports and entertainment categories of its App Store. Before that, he spent three years with the Blue Jays handling arbitration, contract and rules dealings. Sartori's previous work includes a year as Nationals director of baseball operations and more time in Major League Baseball's Commissioner's Office working in labor negotiations.

Also joining the Tigers' analytics department is Andrew Koo, who was named a baseball operations analyst. His previous work includes contributions for Baseball Prospectus. Chris Long, a consultant for the NBA's Houston Rockets and other MLB clubs, will work with the Tigers in a similar position. The hires are part of baseball operations director Sam Menzin's work to build out an analytics department that not long ago consisted of himself.

On the baseball operations side, Alan Avila has been hired as an assistant counsel. He's the youngest son of Al Avila and brother of catcher Alex Avila.

On the scouting side, the Tigers brought back Randy Johnson to the organization as a Major League scout, promoted Jimmy Rough from their amateur scouting ranks, and hired Ray Crone and Joe Ferrone to the same positions. Johnson, not to be confused with the Hall of Fame pitcher who once no-hit the Tigers, worked for Detroit from 1996-2002 under former general managers Randy Smith and Dave Dombrowski. He most recently worked with the Padres as Minor League field coordinator.

The quartet bulk up a Major League scouting staff that includes Jim Olander, Jeff Wetherby and Bruce Tanner. The additional manpower will allow each scout to look deeper into an organization with fewer teams to cover. One of those hires fills the void left by Dave Littlefield's promotion to vice president of player development. Former Major League general manager Murray Cook, most recently an area scout for the Tigers, will move back to Major League scouting as a senior adviser.

Jeff Kunkel, who served as the Tigers' bullpen catcher for the past few years, will break into the scouting side as an amateur area scout covering the upper Midwest, including Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, northern Indiana and northern Illinois. Former Tigers Minor Leaguer Justin Henry was named an area scout covering the Southeast. Jim Bretz, RJ Burgess and Dave Dangler were also named area scouts. Steve Hinton was named a national crosschecker.

Oneri Fleita joins the Tigers as a Mid-Atlantic area scout as well as international crosschecker. Jesus Garces was named as an area scout for Venezuela.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.