Interview with Gil Kim: Director, Player Development
By Jay Blue
Blue Jays from Away
With Mark Shapiro now entrenched in the Toronto Blue Jays front office, he’s been adding positions to the staff and one of those positions is the Director, Player Development. We reached out to the inaugural holder of this position, Gil Kim, who served most recently as the International Scouting Director of the Texas Rangers.
If you haven’t read John Lott’s profile of Kim already, you should definitely check it out. It gives some great background into the man and his journey in the baseball world to reaching the level he’s at now. Here’s what Kim had to say in our interview.
Blue Jays from Away: Welcome to the Blue Jays! As Director of Player Development, what are your responsibilities? Are you going to set out larger strategies for the players or will you take a more granular approach by working with individual players and setting goals/plans for them? How will you be working with current player development staff like Charlie Wilson and Doug Davis as well as the coordinators and roving instructors?
Gil Kim: Thank you, it’s great to be here. I will be working closely with Charlie, Doug and Sal Fasano, as well as the rest of the PD leadership group of coordinators and assistants, to oversee the general philosophy and development strategies of our Minor League system. We’ll set out larger strategies for the group, and also work with the Front Office, analytics and scouting departments to constantly brainstorm for methods to develop our system. We will work closely with Angus Mugford and the newly-created High Performance department, and we will be hands-on with putting together individualized plans so that every player and staff member can maximize his/her potential.
BJfA: How has your experience playing and scouting all over the world prepared you for this role?
GK: Baseball organizations are constantly evaluating talent, and then analyzing how these talents fit into the larger scale of an organization’s plan for success. So an evaluation background can sometimes help to combine with development backgrounds to come up with some cool ideas when thinking big-picture priorities for the players and the organization. Additionally, scouting internationally provides a great education in connecting with different backgrounds and cultures, which is an important skill for any staff member who wants to make an impact in such a diverse game.
BJfA: What kind of approach do you see yourself taking to develop the Blue Jays’ international players? Are there any specific methods or systems that you would like to introduce to help the players working in the Dominican Complex (and at higher levels) along?
GK: The Blue Jays have a rich tradition of scouting and developing talent in Latin America, and were one of the very first organizations to do so back in the 1980s when the department was led by the late Epy Guerrero. We are fortunate to have Sandy Rosario and legendary scout Pablo Cruz on the ground in the DR, two men with both knowledge and experience. We are fully committed to the program, and plan to ramp up our efforts to make the transition from the Dominican Complex to Dunedin as smooth and as seamless as possible. We will work with Sandy, Pablo and Blake Bentley to deliver teaching philosophies and strategies consistent with what we do in the US, while at the same time keeping an open mind and looking for creative ways to adapt the system to best relate to the differences in age, experience level and culture.
BJfA: As a former International Scouting Director, what can you take from that role into player development? Are the two jobs completely different or are there places of overlap?
GK: The importance of patience. Signing players is challenging. Very rarely do quality prospects fall into your lap, and most success stories require hard work, strategic thinking, resilience and adjustments along the way. It can sometimes take years from when you first identify a prospect to the day he signs that contract. In the same sense, these young minor league players do not become big leaguers overnight. You have to be a patient father, brother, teacher, motivator and counselor while staying focused and positive, making adjustments as needed.
In both roles it is essential to have a passion for baseball at the grassroots level. The players have young minds, raw talent and lofty aspirations, and both departments offer the opportunity to impact lives. Whether you’re in scouting or player development, we are involved with these young men from the very beginning stages of their careers. We provide them with the knowledge and resources to help them achieve their goals, and we invest in them not only as players, but as people.
BJfA: What are you most excited about in joining the Blue Jays?
GK: I’m excited to work with a great group of people who are focused on the success of the organization, and passionately committed to winning a World Championship.