New Toronto Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins has kept a low profile while rising steadily through the Indians organization. Here’s what we know so far:
The Blue Jays will be revealing Ross Atkins as their new general manager today in a press conference that should give some reality to a man that is otherwise a little-known front office commodity. His low profile doesn’t mean he’s not talented, however, as Atkins is widely respected around the game as a young baseball executive that has risen quickly through the ranks in Cleveland.
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A native of North Carolina, the 42-year old Atkins is married with two daughters and had spent the entirety of his professional baseball career with the Cleveland Indians. Atkins entered the pro game as a pitching prospect, originally a 69th Round pick of the Florida Marlins in 1994. He re-entered the draft in 1995 and was selected by the Indians in Round 38, where he’d spend five seasons pitching up to the double-A level. Atkins attended Wake Forest where he studied Economics.
Abandoning his pitching career following the 1999 season, Atkins took on a unique role as the pitching coach and translator for Danys Baez in 2000, who was transitioning to the American game. Atkins in fluent in Spanish, a tool that he’s developed through his extensive work on the Latin American side of baseball operations. As small as it sounds, that’s a unique asset.
From that season onwards, Atkins ascended through the following positions…
- 2001 – Assistant Director of Player Development
- 2004 – Director of Latin American Operations
- 2007 – Director of Player Development
- 2010 – Vice President of Player Development
- 2015 – Vice President of Player Personnel
Cover the dates alongside those titles and you may have trouble ranking them from one to five in order of importance, but such is the cluttered nature of MLB front offices. Word around Major League Baseball is that Atkins is a very personable individual, and his ability to play both sides of the player development and administrative game holds value.
Over the past two days, you’ve sure seen the laundry list of Indians players brought into the organization “under” Ross Atkins. That’s not an accurate way of framing things, at all, but Atkins did play a strong hand in managing the farm system that groomed many of those names into impact MLB players.
Speaking on The Fan 590’s PrimeTime Sports on Thursday evening, Jon Morosi suggested that Atkins and Tony LaCava would compliment each other very nicely in their respective front office roles. He believes that Atkins will operate as more of an “office” GM with LaCava excelling outside of the office with his skillful talent evaluations. A great oversimplification, of course, but the collaborate fit seems encouraging at first glance.
Atkins has spent his entire professional career in the same front office as Shapiro, but the narrative of this being a “buddy hire” is fairly shallow. Despite being Toronto’s great enemy, it remains likely that Mark Shapiro prefers winning baseball games to losing them. It would seem unlikely that he’d hire a complete fool. So while I know the opinion on Atkins has already been cemented without seeing his face, let’s give him a week, shall we?