Greetings from Music City! This week we will be posting updates from the annual Baseball Winter Meetings, held this year in Nashville.
by ROB EGAN
NASHVILLE – While the season ended with a tough loss to the Cubs in the National Wild Card Game, the Pirates success in 2015 was well-acknowledged here on Monday.
At the annual Awards Luncheon of the Baseball Winter Meetings, the organization received three awards that epitomize their wide-ranging effort to build a championship organization. Assistant General Manager Kyle Stark was honored by Baseball Chapel for his efforts in establishing the faith-based program throughout the Pirates’ minor league system. Stark said he was “shocked and humbled” by the honor and credited the team’s philosophy in developing good men on and off the field.
Jax Robertson, a longtime scout and currently the assistant to General Manager Neal Huntington, was awarded as baseball’s East Coast Scout of the Year, for his work in finding talent for the Pirates in the region. Robertson can be found at Peoples Natural Gas Field in Altoona on a regular basis watching the Curve and opposing teams as part of his duties. Along with Huntington, scouting director Greg Smith, and the rest of the department, Robertson has helped build up the Bucs’ scouting system to be one of the very best in the game.
To top it off, the Pirates were named baseball’s Organization of the Year by Baseball America, the industry’s most respected publication. Baseball America lauded Pittsburgh’s systematic building of a playoff-caliber organization from a humble foundation in 2007. Beginning with the hiring of team president Frank Coonelly and Huntington in the fall of that year, continuing with increased scouting and use of analytics, and culminating with the acquisition of talent through the draft, international signings, trades, and free agency, the Pirates constructed a club that won 98 games and made the post-season for the third straight season.
In sum, it was quite a day for the Pirates, who not too long ago were viewed as a non-factor. The significance of the awards were not lost on Connelly, who, later in the day, gave a spirited address at the team’s minor league affiliate reception about the success the organization had enjoyed from top to bottom in 2015. He thanked all of the people in the room for having a positive impact on the players, coaches, and staff that contributed to the major league club’s best season since 1992. Connelly wrapped up his remarks by saying his club left the World Series trophy out there this year and that they are looking forward to claiming it in 2016.
The journey to that title begins April 3 vs. St. Louis at PNC Park.