Exclusive: Kurt Kemp Interview

The Braves Show's Bill Shanks talked exclusively with Kurt Kemp, who was named as Atlanta's new Farm Director Sunday by GM John Schuerholz.

SHANKS: Tell me how this unfolded.
KEMP: Well I was offered the position yesterday (Saturday). After I spoke with my family, and we made a decision after talking about moving our family to Atlanta to accept the position and it was announced today (Sunday) with both Paul (Snyder) and his position of Director of Baseball Operations and myself as the person that is going to take over as Director of Player Development.

SHANKS: Going from scouting to player development... does this just make you more well-rounded in your career ... is that the enticement to do this?
KEMP: I think absolutely, being more well-rounded in what I do, but also my background in coaching for thirteen years. I think some of the things I have to offer, now having been on the scouting side for nine years, having been involved in college coaching for thirteen years, offer some things in player development that I think can be very positive. I'm looking forward to the challenge of learning that side of baseball operations and hopefully continuing with the great tradition that have been set forth by Paul for many years and by Dayton (Moore) for his period of time and also with the job that J.J. (Picollo) has done in the interim. I want to continue that tradition of performing at a level of excellence in player development with the same way we've approached scouting. From a personal standpoint I think that is the challenge - to go over there to learn that side of it, be a productive leader, and a person that can make sure that side is running as effectively as possible.

SHANKS: The synergy between scouting and player development is so important, so the good relationship you have with Roy Clark (Atlanta's Director of Scouting) being similiar to what Roy and Dayton had when he was here is key as well, correct?
KEMP: I think so. I think having worked with Roy for the entire nine years that I've been with the organization and then directly under him as our Scouting Director for the period of time that he's been there, the link or connection, and synergy is a great word, between scouting and player development is very important. The more integrated we can be of being on the same page, the more effective we can be on both sides. Really I think that's going to be a great relationship that I have with Roy and a comfort level having worked with him, and then also the relationship that I will have working with John (Schuerholz) and Paul bring a great level of leadership to that side. I think I'm going to be with some of the best people I can be with as I transition into this job.

SHANKS: And since you will be new, to have someone like Paul to lean on will be extraordinary.
KEMP: There's no question about that. Paul exemplifies everything in scouting and player development. He's a standard that we all work to achieve everyday. To have an opportunity to work with him as I grow into this position and understand all of the responsibilities and the things I'm going to be responsible for doing there just couldn't be anybody better in that position to help guide me through as I move into a new venture like this.

SHANKS: Since you've been our national crosschecker for the last few years you've seen many of our younger players as they were drafted. But will just seeing where everyone's at in their development now be one of the first things you'll have to do?
KEMP: Absolutely. That's a large, large part of my job - to know all the players as well as I possibly can so we can make effective decisions on where they can most greatly be challenged but yet not overwhelmed. You want to have them in the right places and going in the right direction. Those kinds of things will come down to me learning the players in our system and where they are, where they've been. So there's no question that's going to be a large part of what I'll do in the beginning is become familiar with our players. A number of them I've been involved in scouting them over the last few years, and a lot of them I've seen from watching our ballclubs. But there are a number of kids that I want to get to know. The Instructional League will give me that chance with another group of players. But that will be a very key part of what I do.

SHANKS: And the ones you did scout, I imagine it will be interesting for you to see how far they've come in our system since you saw them in high school or in college.
KEMP: The challenge is to keep everyone moving forward from wherever they are today to where we're trying to get them. I have a baseline from when I scouted them as college or high school players, and then I'll be able to see where they are today after one, or two, or three years and then the vision of where you want them to be down the road and how can we get them there through the system we have.

SHANKS: And you're still scouting, it's just internal scouting now, correct? You're scouting our players we already have to determine their value to us as an organization?
KEMP: I think that's a key thing. I see that as a big part of my job. You still are scouting, whether it's your own players or making decisions about players coming into the system. Understanding as we draft a new class of players next June what they are going to be needing in our system. Having worked with Roy, I have a sense of what kinds of players we're going to get out of what rounds and how they'll best fit into our system. How can we best place them? Even on the scouting side we talk about that a bit. You get a kid and say, "this kid can go play in Danville" or something like that. Now those kinds of communications will go between Roy and I. It all boils down to how we can best serve that player, give him the best start and the best progress as he moves through our system. It just all fits together.

SHANKS: Since we're not doing well at the big league level this season, there's a sense among many fans that our system has not produced talent to come in and help the big league team. Some forget the fact that we graduated about half our farm system to the big leagues last year. But we're still in pretty good shape, aren't we?
KEMP: I believe so. The players that I've watched make me feel we're okay. As I've worked for Roy and for Paul before that, I've watched the talent they've put into the system and I believe we have a good number of very good prospects in our system. I think that our job is to maximize what we have there. If you look at the long-term and the players we have in our system, I'm very excited to be apart of helping them reach whatever their ceiling is going to be as a player. Hopefully, for a great many of them that will be the major league level.

Bill Shanks is the author of Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team, a look inside the Braves‘ traditional scouting and player development philosophies. He can also be heard regularly on the Braves Radio Network. Email Bill at thebravesshow@email.com.

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