(Written By Matthew Veasey on www.philliesnation.com)
For the everyday fan, baseball scouts are the forgotten people in their favorite organization. But it is the work performed by these individuals that can often spell the difference between winning and losing specific games or series, and success or failure over the longer term.
As the 2018 Winter Meetings opened today in Las Vegas, Nevada, an awards luncheon was held to honor various individuals for their work behind the scenes of the game. Four men were honored as Scouts of the Year, with one of those from the Philadelphia Phillies organization.
Sal Agostinelli was born and raised in the Bronx, New York on September 4, 1961. A baseball fan and player from his earliest days, Agostinelli played both high school ball and in college at Slippery Rock University.
A solid hitting catcher, Agostinelli was selected by the Saint Louis Cardinals in the 22nd round of the 1983 MLB Amateur Draft. Over the next four years he would rise through the Cardinals organization, reaching Triple-A Louisville by 1987. He then received an invite to spring training for 1988 with the big club.
After a struggling season in 1988 during which he hit just .206 at two levels, Agostinelli was released by Saint Louis. He wouldn’t stay unemployed for long. The Phillies signed him and sent him to AA-Reading where he spent the entirety of the 1989 season.
Over the next three years, Agostinelli drifted up and down the Phillies organizational ladder, taking various turns at Reading, High-A Clearwater, and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Though he received an invitation to spring training with the Phillies in 1991, he was never able to impress enough to receive a call to the big-leagues.
After one final appearance in a game with Reading in 1992, Agostinelli retired as a player at age 30. Over 10 minor league seasons he had accumulated a .245/.333/.290 slash line.
The Phillies didn’t think that Agostinelli would be able to help them as a player. But he had impressed with his knowledge of the game and his ability to get along with people. The Phillies asked him to take a coaching job and he accepted, spending time with both the short-season affiliate at Martinsville, Virginia and at Reading.
The next year, Agostinelli became a scout. From 1993 through the 1996 season he worked in the Phillies organization as an area scout, evaluating high school and college players in preparation for the June amateur draft.
Impressed with his work, the Phillies offered Agostinelli the position as their International Scouting Director in 1997. In this role he would oversee a staff covering places outside of the United States and its territories such as the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Japan, and Korea.
The Scout of the Year Award is open to all levels of the scouting profession with 25 years of scouting experience. It honors a lifetime of scouting excellence at all levels. There can be up to four honorees in a given year, and Agostinelli was one of four recognized today.
Agostinelli has been the recipient of honors previously for his work in the game. In 1995 he was elected to the Slippery Rock University Hall of Fame.
In 2012, John Jay University’s baseball team honored him as the 10th recipient of their Lou DeMartino Lifetime Achievement Award. This award is named for their 1974-99 head coach and is given annually to a person in the baseball community who has dedicated years of his life to baseball.
In 2015, the Phillies honored Agostinelli as the recipient of their Dallas Green Award. First handed out in 2011, the award recognizes an amateur or pro scout who best exemplifies the Phillies standard for scouting while demonstrating the same loyalty, work ethic, dedication and passion as the award’s namesake.
Green, who passed away in March 2017, stated the following at the time of Agostinelli receiving his namesake award, per Stephen Gross of The Morning Call:
“Sal really jump-started the international scouting program that we have today. He’s been instrumental in our two schools in the Dominican and Venezuela, setting them up, getting them running and going down there and bringing the kids along.” ~ Dallas Green
Agostinelli is also involved with the development of amateur players, running a youth baseball training operation out of Long Island, New York. The organization includes an indoor baseball academy and a summer camp, as well as tours and tournaments.
Agostinelli has signed a number of players who went on to play in Major League Baseball including Carlos Carrasco, Freddy Galvis, Cesar Hernandez, and Carlos Silva. He is also credited with helping discover popular Phillies all-star catcher Carlos Ruiz.
Now comes the latest honor for this 57-year-old baseball lifer who has been a key member of the Phillies organization, one that most fans have never heard of, for more than a quarter-century.