• Steve Potter

8/25/21 : My View

Change occurs, it’s an inevitable part of any profession, for that matter life, those that attempt to dismiss it usually are left behind. From my corporate years I remember multiple changes in leadership over my thirty two year span. Somehow I remained a constant during those evolutions, even gaining promotions … the key I believe was being open to new ideas while valuing past experience and methods, incorporating rather than exhausting.

I also believe that If you are too big to do the small things, you’re too small to do the big things. Identifying and delivering detailed methods, noticing attitudes, surroundings and incorporating “want to” align with both building and maintaining success. As I went higher up the chain of command, from my perspective, a willingness to both trust and become trusted were the primary keys to building a cohesive team. That’s not to say everyone steered in the same direction one hundred percent of the time, acknowledging and listening to disparate opinions is an absolute, not doing so squelches both understanding and growth but so is eliminating the absolute naysayers who’s only objective is to maintain a prejudice towards old ways with an unwillingness to adapt or even consider new methods or technology.

I’ve observed the Phillies minor league development area from an outside view since I retired from the daily rigors of corporate America six years ago. Some say I “work” as hard at this as I did when gainfully employed. That’s somewhat true, to me doing something without passion is not worth doing at all, it’s either a full steam approach else why bother. That’s the rub though, over the course of the past six years it’s readily evident that many offer opinions and profess knowledges of the state of Phillies baseball without hands on observation or experiences. “Prospect lists” are a prime example, they are often unaccountable … especially when players are included that haven’t even touched the field as a professional … e.g. new draftees “projections”. I doubt that those within any baseball organization are reliant on such things but they do create a public perception and become fan chatter. It’s just one example of the challenges of “public knowledge”.

My view of Phillies player development … from the previous to the most recent management teams … 🤔

There are and have been ongoing inconsistencies from level to level in messaging, philosophy and teaching. It’s wavered in regards to the depth of the gaps but it’s never completely dissolved. In any large organization that is often the case and without ongoing communication engineered for consistency the gaps become engrained. From my view the gaps widened further when the “old school” camp entrenched itself against those brought in to offer more modernized methods and vice versa. It was a noticeable disconnect and the approach to eliminate the void obviously went array. That started when the most previous GM was in control, the lack of open communication channels were not conducive to incorporating buy in to an updated philosophy, the approach was too rigid, uninconclusive and unforgiving.

However, I also believe that new philosophies and mechanisms were a much needed endeavor else the organization would fall further behind the industry than it had to that point. Ignoring technology and advanced methods prohibits growth, that was the dominant thinking in the organization before and it didn’t bode well in results. The diametric opposite types of leadership equally failed. The players suffered the most, often caught in between the ongoing internal struggles over the past ten years.

It is also noticeable that some players are more reliant on personal instructors or family members for baseball related advice and seemingly discount the direction given by their employer, the Phillies. Perhaps that gained steam from there being no season in 2020 when the players had to find ways and places to workout on their own although the Phillies development staff maintained at least a monthly contact with most if not every player and many on a more frequent basis. I think it’s something that needs to be addressed, the coaching direction needs to be led internally and adhered to else development is scattered.

I’ve come to know quite a few folks in player development as well as multiple minor league players and their families. It would be inaccurate to state that there’s no recognizable talent within either group. There is a need for uniform direction with an allowance of diversity in both opinions and employment. It can’t become a completely siloed engagement in “old school” or “this day and age” approaches. The ongoing divide needs to stop, there needs to be an incorporating path and those that refuse to walk it need to be pushed aside. That includes those in auxiliary positions, in particular those involved in messaging.

The coordinators and coaches must recognize individual needs while maintaining a team philosophy. The consistency of teaching from level to level is a requirement. I’ve often marveled at the St Louis Cardinals and how they churn out players in the “Cardinal Way”. We need a robust “Phillies Way” that’s “owned” and bought into. We need internal “compliance scouts” to insure consistency and accountability. We need the full support of top management to give it backbone. We need a formalized internal structure to deliver and maintain it to provide ongoing communication and ideas both top down and bottom up. That’s absolute in my opinion in building positive attitudes both internally and externally to install trust and provision an accurate “public knowledge.”

If you are too big to do the small things, you’re too small to do the big things. Am more than willing to do my part, whatever that might be.

Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️

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