Bill Kearns has seen it all in Mariners history, literally. Kearns, who is 92, has been with the Mariners organization since it joined the American League in 1977. In fact, he signed his contract to join the Mariners before they were even the Mariners (see his original contract below).
Tonight at the Winter Meetings in Orlando, Florida, Kearns was honored as one of the Scouts of the Year. Kearns joins Bill Bryk of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Doug Mapson of the San Francisco Giants, and Howard McCullough with the Arizona Diamondbacks as the 2013 Baseball Scouts of the Year winners. The award, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary, was created to acknowledge baseball scouts that have devoted at least a quarter of a century to the profession, recognizing these ambassadors for their achievements to our National Pastime. All recipients’ are also honored by the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York in the Diamond Mines exhibit.
Kearns also scouted for White Sox and KC Royals. In his youth, this Master Scout was a standout SS for the Brooklyn Dodgers and was signed by the legendary Branch Rickey. After service during WWII, Bill continued an academic / athletic career that got him noticed for his instructional abilities, enabling him to serve as a player/ manger in the minors.
The following is a true gem, Bill’s original offer letter and contract from 1976, surely something that will make its way to Cooperstown.
You can listen to Bill tell stories about his scouting career in the following interview today on MLB Network Radio.
Each year at the Winter Meetings, Major League Baseball hosts a lunch with all 30 managers and the media. It is pretty cool to see all the managers in one spot, and makes for a great photo. Here is a photo of the 15 American League managers for the 2014 season, with Lloyd McClendon front-and-center between Rays manager Joe Maddon and Orioles manager Buck Showalter.
Earlier this morning at the Winter Meetings in Orlando, Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik joined Matt Vasgersian, Harold Reynolds and Ken Rosenthal on the MLB Network. In case you were not up early enough on the West Coast (the interview aired live at 6:15 a.m. PT), here is the interview:
The annual Major League Baseball Winter Meetings are about to kick off at the Swan & Dolphin Resort at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. A large Mariners contingent from the baseball operations and player development staff will be in Orlando (along with your blog contributors from the media relations crew).
What exactly are the Winter Meetings you ask?
The Baseball Winter Meetings is the annual gathering of members of The National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, including Major League Baseball, and their affiliated parties. Baseball front office personnel, trade show exhibitors and job seekers will fill the property during these four days in December making it the largest gathering of baseball executives in the world. The meetings consist of seminars, league and organizational meetings, the Baseball Trade Show and special events, such as the annual Awards Luncheon, Banquet, Gala and the PBEO Job Fair.
You’ll hear a lot about the Winter Meetings on the MLB Network, ESPN, MLB Network Radio and across various forms of social media. For twitter followers, be sure to follow the hashtag #WinterMeetings and the @WinterMeetings account.
On the blog, we’ll try to give you a behind-the-scenes look at what is going on, what interviews are taking place with manager Lloyd McClendon and GM Jack Zduriencik, and hopefully some fun photos of recognizable baseball names.
The Mariners nine minor league affiliates wrapped up the 2012 season putting together one of the best season in club history, combining for a 496-406 (.550) record. The organization led all Major League farm systems in wins and winning percentage, while setting a new record for most wins in a single season. This has led to optimism in the Mariners pipeline, as Seattle has one of the best farm systems in all of baseball. Baseball America unveiled their annual Top 10 Prospects list ranking the top Mariners in the minor leagues.
Baseball America’s Top 10 Mariners Prospects:
1. Mike Zunino, c
2. Taijuan Walker, rhp
3. Danny Hultzen, lhp
4. James Paxton, lhp
5. Nick Franklin, ss/2b
6. Brandon Maurer, rhp
7. Carter Capps, rhp
8. Stefen Romero, 2b
9. Brad Miller, ss
10. Victor Sanchez, rhp
Catcher Mike Zunino, selected by the Mariners with the third overall pick in the 2012 First-Year Player draft, quickly established himself as an offensive and defensive force and was ranked by Baseball America as the Mariners No. 1 prospect. In his first professional season, Zunino hit .360 (58×151) with 35 runs scored, 14 doubles, 13 home runs and 43 RBI in 44 combined between Short-A Everett and AA Jackson.
The Mariners had six pitchers ranked in the top 10, including five of the top seven prospects. For the second straight year, right-handed pitcher Taijuan Walker (#2) was tabbed as the Mariners top pitching prospect. In only his third professional season, Walker, 20, was one of the youngest pitchers in the Southern League and was also named to the North Division All-Star Team. Left-handed pitchers Danny Hultzen (#3) and James Paxton (#4), joined right-handed pitchers Brandon Maurer (#6), Carter Capps (#7) and Victor Sanchez (#10) to round out the Mariners top pitching prospects. After being in the minor leagues less than a year, Capps made his Major League debut on Aug. 3, 2012 and became only the third player from the 2011 First-Year Players draft to make his ML debut. Hultzen, Maurer and Paxton each ranked amongst the Mariners organization leaders in wins, ERA and strikeouts, while Sanchez at age 17 was the youngest player in the top 10.
While the Mariners are known for their top pitching prospects, it was their offensive numbers that really stood out in 2012. Amongst all full-season minor league clubs, the Mariners affiliates finished in the top 5 in nearly every offensive category, including ranking first in hits, home runs, slugging percentage and on-base percentage. Infielders Nick Franklin (#5), Stefen Romero (#8) and Brad Miller (#9) joined Zunino as the Mariners position players in the organizations top 10 rankings. Romero was named the Mariners Minor League Player of the Year after batting .352 (167×474) with 85 runs scored, 64 extra-base hits and 101 RBI in 116 games combined between High-A High Desert and AA Jackson. Franklin was recently named to the Arizona Fall League Top Prospect Team, while Miller ranked second amongst all Minor Leaguers with 186 hits.
The Opryland Hotel was bustling with activity this morning as the 2012 Winter Meetings officially kicked off in Nashville. Since we are two hours ahead here in The Music City, you may not have been able to watch Jack Zduriencik on the MLB Network this morning. Here is the video of Jack’s interview with Matt Vasgersian and Harold Reynolds:
Jack also stopped to talk with several reporters between interviews, and capped his morning media session by joining Mike Ferrin and Jim Duquett on MLB Network Radio on XM/Sirius. Here is a 3-minute segment of that interview: