The Chicago Cubs lost a big piece of the puzzle on Thursday. It won’t be the type of news that will make major headlines nor will you recognize the person as a household name.
The unsung architect of a winning franchise who tirelessly works behind the scenes to bring talent to our beloved Cubs. The effort put forth by scouts is unparalleled and we rarely get to admire the impact they have on a team until it’s too late.
Long time area scout for the Cubs Stan Zielinski died at his home on Thursday. Zelinski’s experience and knowledge helped build a winning team in Chicago. As reported by the Chicago Tribune.
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Zielinski, 64, started with the Cubs in 2001 and made his start in scouting with the White Sox in the late 70’s.
As a member of the Midwest Scouts Association Hall of Fame, Zielinski continued to find joy in what he did. The Cubs named him Scout of the Year in 2015.
Stan Zielinski left his mark on the game with every player he brought in. Most notably, he was responsible for the signing of Kyle Schwarber just a few years ago. But the names go on and on.
The loss of Zielinski was felt throughout the many people who have worked for the Cubs since he started 16 years ago. Cubs President Theo Epstein and former GM Jim Hendry both expressed their sadness over the news.
The average baseball fan will never experience the amount of work that goes into drafting or signing a player. We often see or hear about the end result. The simple details like who we got and for how much.
Baseball organizations have been relying on scouts for decades in order to find the next “big thing”. The work is tedious yet rewarding. You will never meet a scout that isn’t completely obsessed with the game.
Although the roles haven’t gone away or diminished in any way, the development of technology and metrics has changed how scouts evaluate prospective talent.
For example, the work to draft and sign Kyle Schwarber started long before the amateur draft. Scouts like Zielinski logged hundreds of hours traveling from town to town meeting with high school and college coaches alike.
To be the best at what you do, you must be willing to believe in what you see and stick to it. The Cubs took the scouting reports and advice from Zielinski and drafted Schwarber fourth overall. Many other teams had undervalued the young slugger. It’s safe to say that drafting Schwarber has been a wise move up to now.
It can be difficult scouting for a major league franchise. The amount of time away from family can only be justified if the work you’re doing makes a difference. To be appreciated by others is nice. To be a stranger to others is unfortunate. But to a guy like Stan Zielinski, to be missed by others speaks volumes about the type of person he was.