Oakland A's Front Office Q&A: Dan Kantrovitz

Over past few years, the Oakland A's have recommitted to their international scouting and development program. Now overseeing those efforts is Dan Kantrovitz, who joined the A's as the Coordinator of International Operations/Baseball Operations Analyst over the summer. He recently answered questions via e-mail about his position with the team and the A's international program.

Over the summer, the Oakland A's welcomed Dan Kantrovitz into their front office as the team's Coordinator of International Operations/Baseball Operations Analyst. Kantrovitz joined the A's from Harvard University, where he had completed a master's degree in Statistics.

Kantrovitz got his start in professional baseball with the St. Louis Cardinals on the field. He was the team's 25th round draft selection in 2001 out of Brown University, where the shortstop had earned two All-Ivy League first team selections and finished seventh in league history in hits with 207. He spent one season in the minor leagues with St. Louis before a shoulder injury ended his playing career.

The Missouri native got back into baseball a few years later with a company that did baseball analysis for major league organizations. He was hired by St. Louis to be in the team's front office in 2004 and Kantrovitz spent four years with the Cardinals, filling a number of roles, including serving as the Director of College Scouting.

Since joining the A's over the summer, Kantrovitz has traveled the globe, coordinating the team's efforts to scout the best talent in the world. We recently caught-up with Kantrovitz via e-mail to find out more about his position with the A's and the team's international program...

OaklandClubhouse.com: Can you describe your position with the team and what you are responsible for in terms of the international program?

Dan Kantrovitz: This time of year, the majority of my time is spent on international scouting. Since the beginning of the year, I will have traveled to the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Mexico, Taiwan and Korea…in some cases, I have traveled to these countries multiple times.

In addition to scouting, I am responsible for managing our scouts and personnel throughout the world as well as some administrative duties such as scheduling, overseeing budgets and assisting in the contractual/visa/legal processes for foreign players.

Also, being based in the front office in Oakland, I am able to work with Billy [Beane], David [Forst] and Farhan [Zaidi] on dealings related to our minor and major league teams. It's a solid mix of being able to contribute with certain skills and experiences that I bring to the table as well as being able to learn from some of the best executives in the game.

OC: You were the Director of College Scouting for the St. Louis Cardinals. How different is it for you to cover the international market as opposed to the US?

DK: I was lucky to have had a broad-based scouting background with the Cardinals that included a heavy dose of international work. As a result, transitioning to the international side with the A's has felt very natural.

When I worked for the Cardinals, Jeff Luhnow (VP of Scouting/PD) and John Mozeliak (GM) took a vested interest in my development early on. In particular, Jeff gave me quite a bit of responsibility on the international side. When I started back in 2004, I spent nearly the entire summer (after the draft) living at our complex in the Dominican assisting in everything from academy administration to July 2nd scouting to on-the-field player development operations.

On top of the international work, some of my scouting coverage included the Cape Cod league, Area Code games, Arizona Fall League, some minor league affiliates, the occasional Major League team, as well as area scout responsibilities. Then, when we were targeting more college players in the draft, it made sense to tailor my coverage to those players we would be drafting (hence the college scouting).

The opportunities with the Cardinals definitely helped me hit the ground running here in Oakland and also have enabled me to focus on a niche of scouting that I am extremely passionate about - international scouting.

OC: Generally speaking, what is the team's current approach to international scouting? Is the focus mostly Latin America, or are you covering the Pacific Rim as well?

DK: Our current approach is based on actual data and analysis whenever possible. In fact, I would bet we have done as much homework as anybody on the various international markets. But, at the end of the day, our current approach might be best described as opportunistic and aggressive.

While responding to your questions, I am currently in the Pac Rim with two of our scouts (Adam Hislop and Lewis Kim)…so clearly we are covering the Pac Rim. It is just a matter of time before we sign our first Taiwanese and Korean amateur players.

OC: How much does your statistical background play a role in your scouting efforts? Is there much statistical analysis involved in the scouting of international amateurs, or is that analysis still more useful with players coming out of organized high school and collegiate leagues?

DK: My stats professors may cringe when I say this, but so far the Spanish classes I took in graduate school have been more applicable to the scouting efforts than a particular stats course. Although Dominican-Spanish is a lot different than what they teach in a Harvard classroom, I do have almost daily communication with our personnel in Latin America in their native language. That said, I got a master's degree in statistics because I enjoy working with data and those skills enable me to contribute on various projects within our front office that otherwise I might not be involved.

OC: How has your experience as a minor league player influenced you as a scout?

DK: Being at minor league spring training and riding the bench in the Appy League was a magical experience. Although for me, more influential in developing scouting instincts was the nearly 20 years of working to improve myself as a baseball player, observing how other players developed, and being around some excellent coaches.

OC: Who was the better shortstop in college, you or David Forst?

DK: Hmmm…that sounds like a loaded question…I'm gonna have to pass.

OC: Has the team made any international signings this off-season? If so, can you tell us a little about the players and how they project down the road?

DK: You'll have to check back in a couple weeks. We are all excited about a couple players we have recently agreed to terms with, but right now, I am unable to comment further.

OC: Has the Michael Ynoa signing given the A's more cache when pursuing "bigger name" international amateur free agents in the DR?

DK: I think that is overrated. The buscon (Latin-American version of an agent) mentality is more "what have you done for me lately." And, while everybody here, including me, is very excited about Michael Ynoa, I have not seen us get much mileage out of his signing in that way.

OC: There have been a few clubs who have signed European players lately. Is that a market the team is looking at?

DK: Yes. After we researched the European market, I went to the World Cup last year in Holland and Italy and we ended up hiring a new scout (Tom Gillespie) based in Europe. We believe a value proposition exists to have a presence there.

OC: Wilfredo Solano was the A's most high-profile July 2nd signing this past year. What can you tell us about him as a player and will he debut in the DSL this season?

DK: The plan for Wilfredo is to debut in the DSL. I joined the A's after the team had scouted him but, Billy Owens, Julio Franco and our scouts in Venezuela did an outstanding job with him.

He's got a short, compact powerful stroke combined with a clean, athletic and projectable body. His hands keep up with the speed of the game to play either 3B or SS and he has plenty of arm for anywhere on the diamond. Also impressive is that he was our top performer in English classes this past fall. We are all excited about Wilfredo.


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