Blue Jays Director of Amateur Scouting Steve Sanders has left the organization to follow former GM of Player Development Ben Cherington to Pittsburgh for an unspecified role, but it’s likely that he will be named an assistant to the Bucs’ new GM.
Sanders, who joined the Blue Jays in 2017, is widely considered to be future GM material himself. Cherington gave Sanders his first job in baseball with the Red Sox in 2011 when he was Boston’s GM. Having spoken to both of them extensively over the past several years, they tend to speak the same language when it comes to scouting and player development, so it’s not a huge surprise that Sanders followed his former boss to the Steel City.
Some media outlets have attempted to analyze the three amateur drafts Sanders was in charge of, but that’s folly for a couple of reasons. For starters, it can take as many as five (or more) drafts to truly critique a team’s strategy as the players they’ve taken need time to climb the minor league ladder and establish themselves as MLBers. Additionally, when it comes to the draft, most front offices work on a consensus basis – a lot of hands chip in to compile as much information on a player as is possible. Yes, a scouting director has much of the say on Day One, but in the days that follow, the input of cross checkers and area scouts become of added importance. Sanders talked about “Scouts pounding on the table,” for one of their guys as the draft reached its final rounds, advocating for a player in their are they had scouted extensively, and that’s an easy scenario to picture in the Jays’ draft war room. One thing is certain: the Blue Jays farm system was already on the rise when Sanders joined the organization. He helped to add even more top athletes to the system in his short time in Toronto.
The Blue Jays do have the 5th overall pick in next June’s draft, but they have plenty of time to either promote from within, or hire an external candidate to replace Sanders. Scouting for the 2020 draft began about a week after the 2019 draft, and the Blue Jays, like most teams, already had a large database about players eligible for this year. MLB executives leaving for positions of added responsibility is not uncommon, and most teams have plans in place for the succession of staff who move on to other opportunities.
I talked to Sanders about his first draft, the Nate Pearson 2017 year, here – https://clutchlings.blogspot.com/2017/08/blue-jays-scouting-director-weighs-in.html
And the 2018 draft here: