Recent hires, promotions show Twins making strides in diversity
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- Deron Johnson did not receive an interview for the Twins' top two baseball operations positions, but his promotion this week to senior adviser to the scouting department could position him well for future high-level opport...
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. - Deron Johnson did not receive an interview for the Twins' top two baseball operations positions, but his promotion this week to senior adviser to the scouting department could position him well for future high-level opportunities.
"That's very much possible in terms of Deron," said Tyrone Brooks, senior director of Major League Baseball's diversity pipeline program. "Deron's an extremely bright guy. He's been around obviously a long time, has been out there in the trenches in terms of evaluating talent for many years. I don't see why he wouldn't (receive consideration). He's definitely on the radar, for sure."
Johnson, 50, will expand his scouting reach to include international and professional markets after focusing almost exclusively on the amateur side since joining the Twins in 1994. That included final say in the past nine drafts, dating back to 2008.
The Twins conducted just two known interviews with minority candidates during their recent executive search, which was the last of several baseball searches assisted by Korn Ferry. The commissioner's office, disappointed with the continued lack of diversity in key front-office positions, recently ended its partnership with the executive search firm, which had assisted in recent front-office searches for the Toronto Blue Jays, Milwaukee Brewers and Arizona Diamondbacks.
Each of those searches ended with the hiring of someone who had worked for former Cleveland Indians GM Mark Shapiro, now Blue Jays club president.
Chicago Cubs official Jason McLeod, whose mother is from the Pacific Islands, was among four outside candidates to interview for the Twins' chief baseball officer position that went to former Indians assistant GM Derek Falvey; and former Diamondbacks official De Jon Watson, who is black, received a GM interview before the Twins hired Thad Levine from the Texas Rangers.
Brooks, a former Pittsburgh Pirates player personnel director who interviewed for the Brewers GM position in 2015, is charged with increasing the minority candidate pool for front office and field staff positions.
In addition to promoting Johnson, the Twins also promoted West Coast scouting supervisor Sean Johnson to scouting director. Last week they hired James Rowson from the New York Yankees system as big-league hitting coach and named former Twins Torii Hunter and LaTroy Hawkins as special assistants in baseball operations.
All are black.
"Diversity is important to us," Falvey said. "I know it's important to (Twins owner) Jim Pohlad and (team president) Dave St. Peter and the group here in Minnesota, and we'll make a commitment to that. When you bring in senior leadership voices that have diverse backgrounds, diversity of thought, diversity of experiences, I think that's important for us."
Brooks, who sat on a player-development panel with a then little-known Falvey in the spring of 2013 at the Society for American Baseball Research convention, was working in the Indians' front office from 2007-09 during Falvey's earliest days in baseball.
"Derek is a guy that is extremely thorough," Brooks said. "I know he's going to be very process-driven, in terms of looking big picture in how to put together an organization. I had a chance to work with Derek when he was very much in his younger years coming into the Indians organization. He was an intern initially. Then he got a chance to be hired full time working in scouting and our operation there."
Falvey made an impression on Brooks early on.
"I was always impressed by him, who he was as a person," Brooks said. "I'm very happy for him to see this opportunity for him now at this stage in his career. I know he's been a big part of what's gone on there in Cleveland. One great thing I know just from how the Indians organization tends to operate, individuals get a chance to touch a lot of different areas.
"I believe fully that Derek has had that kind of experience there in Cleveland and it's going to allow him to come into this opportunity and effectively be able to do that and really give people their opportunity to grow and also have a process in terms of doing that. I'm just excited for him and the Twins organization."
Despite a 12-year age gap between Falvey and Levine, Brooks believes they will make a formidable management team.
"I just think from Thad's experience he's had with Texas and the things he's been through and being part of that success, that's going to be tremendously valuable," Brooks said. "They've both been in great organizations, so combining the two of them, they each probably have different thoughts and visions they're going to be able to put together. I think going forward they're in really good shape having those two guys at the very top of the organization."