Phillies add to baseball operations staff

Phillies add to baseball operations staff

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Phillies on Tuesday announced a number of hires and promotions in their baseball operations department.

The Phils brought on two new special assistants to general manager Matt Klentak, hiring Bryan Minniti from the D-backs and promoting Jorge Velandia from his role as special assistant, player personnel.

The Phillies also hired Geoff Miller to serve as a mental skills coach and Natan Weinberger as an analyst in their research-and-development department.

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"As a baseball operations department, we are charged with continuing to make our organization better," Klentak said Tuesday at the General Managers Meetings. "Whether it's with personnel or certain initiatives or the acquisition of players, if there are ways to make the organization better, we're very fortunate that our owners are supportive and encouraging of us doing that."

Klentak said Miller will spend time with the Major League team, work throughout their Minor League system and help evaluate amateur players in the Draft.

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"We're cognizant of the fact that on-field development and physical development is a big part of the equation, but making sure these players are in the right frame of mind to compete and overcome adversity is also a critical piece," Klentak said. "It's all designed to get the most out of our players and help them achieve whatever their ceilings are."

The Phillies also beefed up their scouting department. Greg Schilz, a longtime Pirates scout, was named Philadelphia's national scouting coordinator, and the Phils added area scouts Will Brunson, Justin Morganstern and Justin Munson. They also expanded their international efforts by hiring Greg McMillin as their coordinator of international scouting and adding Rafael Alvarez as an international scout.

Balancing act
The Phillies will lay the foundation for the rest of the offseason at these meetings in Scottsdale, Ariz., evaluating potential free agents and trades. They are in a unique position, continuing a rebuilding process while still looking to improve next year and considering options that may benefit their next contender down the road.

"First and foremost, we want to do everything we can to make the 2017 Phillies a better team. We need to improve," Klentak said. "Having said that, it's important for us to recognize the timelines of a lot of our young players and where they are.

"Any decision that we make to bring in Major League talent has to be viewed against the backdrop of what it means organizationally. … That's what makes the GM Meetings fun; we can go into a meeting with an agent or a conversation with another team with a completely open mind to different possibilities and see what results. If there's an opportunity to add a player that fits with what we're trying to do, we can jump on it. If it doesn't, we don't feel compelled to do that right now. It's all about opportunity."

No news on Hellickson
Klentak said the Phillies have "not yet" been given any indication as to whether right-hander Jeremy Hellickson will accept or decline the one-year, $17.2 million qualifying offer he received Monday. Hellickson has until Nov. 14 to make a decision.

Hellickson is expected to decline the offer and become one of the top available options in a weak class of free-agent starting pitchers. In that case, Philadelphia would receive Draft-pick compensation if he signs with another club.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.