A scout’s tale: Meet Kirk Fredriksson

Today, we begin a new series in this space. We’ll introduce you to some Orioles scouts over the rest of the offseason. Some fans may not even know their names. Hopefully, after reading some upcoming posts, you’ll know a lot more than that. So let’s begin ...

For many years, Kirk Fredriksson was a general manager for a couple of summer college league teams in the New England Collegiate Baseball League. For part of that time, current O’s executive vice president Dan Duquette owned the Pittsfield team in the league.

Duquette noticed that the now 53-year-old Fredriksson had a pretty good eye for talent, and when the Orioles hired Duquette, he hired Fredriksson as a regional scout working in New York, New Jersey and throughout New England. After three years in that role, Fredriksson got promoted. This past season, Fredriksson completed his second year as the Orioles’ East Coast scouting supervisor.

Recent draft signings under his supervision include 2017 Brooks Robinson minor league Player of the Year outfielder Austin Hays, as well as the 2017 first-round pick, lefty DL Hall, and the 2017 third-round pick and the Orioles minor league Pitcher of the Month for August, right-hander Michael Baumann.

The life of a scout can be difficult, with long hours and a lot of travel. There can be years when their team will draft players over 40 rounds of the First-Year Player Draft and not take one player a scout has seen from a list that can number more than 200 players.

Kirk-Fredriksson-headshot-sidebar.jpgBut then there is a story that is kind of the opposite of that. There is that scout that signs a player among his first signings for his new team and that player turns out to finish third for the American League Rookie of the Year Award. It was Fredriksson, as an O’s rookie scout, who scouted and signed Trey Mancini, drafted by the Orioles in round eight out of Notre Dame in 2013. Fredriksson had just been hired by the club in the fall of 2012. So, yeah, nice start to his scouting career.

Mancini was actually the second Fredriksson-scouted pick the O’s signed in that draft. The first was catcher Jonah Heim, taken in round four by the Orioles. He was later traded to Tampa Bay for Steve Pearce on Aug. 1, 2016.

Fredriksson’s ties to Mancini go back to the New England collegiate league. Mancini played on Fredriksson’s team after his freshman year in South Bend. The rest is history. The kid often overlooked by prospect analysts got to the majors, switched positions and continued to hit.

“Trey always makes me look smart,” Fredriksson said. “Anytime someone says he can’t do something, he goes out and does it. His mom said it was meant to be. I had him on the summer team and then I was the scout that drafted him for the big league team for which her father was a season ticket holder for 30 years. His mom lived in the area. She said it is almost like it should be a movie.

“But Trey deserves all the credit. He works so hard and has tremendous aptitude. He’s such a great kid. People may say this sometimes and not mean it, but he’s a once-in-a-generation person. The makeup he has, all the abilities and the great family he is from, they don’t come along too often like that.”

Kirk-Fredriksson-award-sidebar.jpgMancini’s ascension to the majors and success when he got there is a big reason the Orioles named Fredriksson the winner of the 2017 Jim Russo Scout of the Year Award in September. The honor is named for the man who spent 33 years in various scouting capacities with the Orioles, beginning with their move from St. Louis in 1954.

For Fredriksson, his baseball education really began to escalate when he played high school ball. The native of Torrington, Conn., played at the Gilbert School in Winstead, Conn., for head coach Moe Morhardt, who played briefly in the majors for the Cubs and later would coach Jeff Bagwell during his college years.

“I learned a lot from him,” Fredriksson said of Morhardt. “Things I still use to this day. Every once in a while, I love to pick up the phone and check in with him. His whole family was big for me in my baseball career. He is a guy, you pick any topic on baseball and he can talk on it. I loved to listen to him and soak up knowledge. He taught me so much and showed me how to respect the game.”

After he played in high school, some in college and semipro ball, Fredriksson began working in the New England collegiate league in 1997. He stayed there through 2012 and the league eventually lead him to Baltimore. That is where he met the man that made that happen for him.

“Dan (Duquette) had a team in the NECBL, as well. Helped him actually pick some of his players and he got to know me a little and told me I was good at evaluating players,” Fredriksson said. “That was a nice compliment. He told me if he ever got back in the game, he was taking me with him, and he was a man of his word.”

Fredriksson and his summer ball teams have been big for literally hundreds of players like Mancini on their way to pro ball. Along the way his teams also included future major league front office staffers.

“My first team in ‘97, our opening day pitcher was Scott Barnsby, who just got promoted to director of scouting for the Cleveland Indians,” he said. “Our shortstop on that team was David Forst, who is the general manager of the Oakland A’s. We’ve had a lot of good players come through. Stephen Strasburg played for me among a lot of good ones over the years.”

With the Orioles, Fredriksson drafted and signed some promising young players now on the farm, like outfielder Ryan McKenna and a player he calls a “darkhorse” in first baseman Seamus Curran, a big, strong kid with power who missed a lot of the 2017 season with a knee injury.

As the O’s East Coast scouting supervisor, Fredriksson is based in Georgia and oversees five regional scouts. You don’t have to talk to him long to tell how much he loves his job and working for the Orioles. Mancini may be “a once-in-a-generation player,” but it hasn’t stopped Fredriksson from spending hundreds of hours at high school and college fields, trying to find another just like him.

blog comments powered by Disqus