Duquette talks about changes at top of O’s player development operation

The Orioles today announced a restructuring of their player development staff. Kent Qualls was officially named director of minor league operations, where he will oversee the business operations of the player development department. Brian Graham has been promoted from coordinator of minor league instruction to director of player development. As director of player personnel, John Stockstill will now also oversee international and domestic professional scouting.

A few moments ago I spoke with executive vice president Dan Duquette about these changes.

“Brian’s position in the organization has been elevated and he’s in charge of the on-field personnel,” Duquette said. “That includes the managers and players. Brian’s record as a manager is exemplary and the fact he’s also been a coach in the big leagues is a prime asset for our organization.

“The on-field director of the minor leagues is really implementing the organization’s training program and is preparing the players the way the big league manager prefers. Our players should be doing in the minors what they are doing in the big leagues, particularly as they move up in the system. The working relationship between Graham and Buck is a good one and that is important as we build a quality operation.”

Qualls is a new addition to the Orioles with close ties to Duquette and he spent the past 10 years as director of the Dan Duquette Sports Academy in Hinsdale, Mass.

“Kent has a strong background in player personnel and he’s been helping ballplayers in training programs for over 20 years,” Duquette said. “He had excellent experience with the Expos and he went to the Red Sox and helped build a top-quality player development operation there. He’s very good at team building and he’s a good leader. Kent will be the organization’s point person for all the affiliates. He’ll also oversee the budget for the player development operation.

“Empowering Brian and Kent to run the player development operation is a natural progression of our baseball operation. Utilizing John Stockstill in his strength, which is scouting with his background, I think is the right thing to do for the Orioles.

“I’ve said it many times: Our best players are going to come to the major league club through the farm system. To the extent we have people that are strong and efficient in player development, that will speed up the process.”

Duquette said Qualls will also be involved in another key area for the ballclub.

“We are going to be implementing some processes to help expedite player development of the foreign-born players brought into the organization. Kent is very well-schooled at that. He helped customized a support program for foreign-born players in Boston,” Duquette said.

Since he was hired about 14 months ago, Duquette has continued to add key members to his staff, including Gary Rajsich, and Matt and Danny Haas to key amateur scouting positions and Qualls, Rick Peterson and Mike Boulanger to key player development positions. His staff continues to come together.

“We’re making progress toward having an integrated operation. I think we have some pros that can help us accomplish that,” Duquette said.

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