The Philadelphia Phillies have announced Brian Barber as their new director of amateur scouting, who will oversee the team’s amateur draft and international free agent signing period. Barber takes over for the recently-departed Johnny Almaraz, who stepped down from his role with the team a few months ago.
Barber has spent the last 18 seasons with the New York Yankees (2001-19) where he worked as an area scout, crosschecker and national crosschecker. A crosschecker is a type of scout whose main job is to provide a second opinion on reports filed by local area scouts.
According to a statement released by the team, general manager Matt Klentak said “We are very pleased to announce the hiring of Brian Barber as our new director of amateur scouting. Brian has an extensive history in baseball, both as a player and more recently as a talent evaluator, and we are thrilled to welcome him to Philadelphia.”
Barber was a starting pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals and Kansas City Royals from 1995-99, and in a recent story by MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand noted the role to which Barber played in helping the Yankees select Aaron Judge in the first round of the 2013 draft at No. 32 overall.
Damon Oppenheimer, Yankees: I get my first oral report from Matt Hyde. He tells me, “Hey Damon, when you’re up here, make sure you spend some time seeing Aaron Judge. He’s really made progress, he’s got big power, he’s swinging the bat well, and he plays center field.” Brian Barber, our national crosschecker, submitted a report, and it’s got 80 raw power, 65 arm, 50 run, a future 55 hitter and future 70 power. That gets him up high on our follow board. When we see sevens and eights, it’s like diamonds: [Bryce] Harper, [Mike] Trout, A-Rod [Alex Rodriguez] kind of guys.
The Phillies have struggled with their drafts in recent years, as noted by The Athletic’s Matt Gelb. So while plucking someone from one of the most analytically-advanced teams in the country is certainly a wise move, it should be noted the Yankees have not had much success in their recent drafts, Judge excepted.
I don't know how much this says about Barber specifically, but the #Yankees have been pretty bad in drafting.— schmenkman (@tgpschmenk) October 21, 2019
(and the #Phillies have barely been better)
This is total career WAR with all teams, for each pick.
source: Fangraphs@TheGoodPhight pic.twitter.com/vjQon275Iw
However, Barber did have a hand in finding productive players like Gio Urshela and Mike Tauchman, and Barber did not have final say in the Yankees’ draft process, so it’s unclear how much of their recent lack of success to lay at his feet.
It will be important for Barber and the rest of the Phillies’ scouting and analytics department to get these next few drafts right, as the cupboard is largely bare of top notch prospects. Only Alec Bohm and Spencer Howard project to be upper-tier prospects who are close to Major League-ready, although Adam Haseley and Cole Irvin are recent picks that have seen significant playing time with the Phillies.
Barber will now try to help the Phils mix the scouting side of things with the analytics of amateur player evaluation, and help the franchise find a way to move foward and re-stock the farm system over the next few years.
On Episode 329 of Hittin’ Season, I talked about the Barber hire with Liz Roscher and Justin Klugh and we also chatted about the Phils’ managerial process, previewed the World Series and answered your mailbag questions. Subscribe and listen!