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Good scouts more vital than ever

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The new caps on signing bonuses for the amateur draft and international free agent market put a crimp in the Pirates’ strategy for franchise building. One possible way around it is to redouble your efforts in scouting. “No question, the people that succeed in the draft and international market are going to succeed not on the basis of dollars, given the various caps that are now in place, but on the best scouting,” prez Frank Coonelly said. “It’s not only hiring more (scouts) and covering more (territory), but it’s hiring the best people and making the best judgements.”

So far this offseason, the Pirates have put forth a mixed effort in the scouting department. They lost Mike Leuzinger, who signed six of the team’s 30 top prospects, as rated by Baseball America. Having a top amateur scout walk away because he soured on his situation with the club is a huge blow. Yesterday, however, the Pirates announced they’ve hired four pro scouts — Ricky Bennett, Carlos Berroa, Ron Hopkins and John Kosciak. Bennett has a ton of experience with the Astros and Tigers as director of pro scouting and a minor league operations director. Berroa spent the past 15 years as an amateur scout and directed an academy in Puerto Rico. Hopkins was the Orioles’ national crosschecker and also worked for the Mets, Rangers, A’s, Mariners and Royals. Kosciak has three decades of experience.

Under GM Neal Huntington, the Pirates have expanded their scouting department, both in terms of size and expenditures. The added manpower, Huntington said, enables pro scouts to do a better job evaluating other MLB teams. “We’re able to have our guys give us deeper looks,” Huntington said. “They don’t have to go three days and out when scouting a team. We’re getting more focused scouting coverage instead of just blanket scouting coverage.”

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