Mike Leuzinger, the superscout who brought top outfielder prospect Josh Bell into the Pirates
’ system, turned down a contract renewal offer and left the organization.
“It was really just time to move on,” Leuzinger said by phone from his home in Canton, Texas. “It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a year or so.”
Leuzinger, 45, was the Pirates
’ area supervisor for North Texas and Oklahoma. He joined the club in 2004 after working 12 years for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Among the players he has scouted and signed were Matt Kemp, Tony Watson
, Duke Welker and Andy LaRoche. In 2011, the Pirates
lured Bell away from a college scholarship with a $5 million bonus, adding a premier slugger to their minor league system.
The Yankees asked for permission to interview Leuzinger at season’s end, but the Pirates
refused. A few days later, Pirates
director of amateur scouting Joe DelliCarri told Leuzinger about management’s decision.
“That kind of stung,” Leuzinger said. “I wish I could’ve known what the job was. I asked Joe if he would reconsider. I just wanted to have that opportunity. I’ve been an area scout for 20 years, and I think I can do more. When I looked into the crystal ball a couple years down the line with the Pirates
, I think I’d be in the same spot.”
Leuzinger said the Yankees situation wasn’t the only reason he left; the Pirates
’ long stretch of losing took a toll.
“I was there for eight of those (20 losing seasons),” he said. “It does wear you down. I’m not the only one. I’m sure Neal (Huntington, general manager), Greg (Smith, assistant GM) and Joe feel it, too. But they all work so hard. I wish people knew how hard they’re working to change things. I have nothing against the Pirates
. Greg and Joe truly are class people. It was just time to move on.”
Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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