Tony Reagins is Major League Baseball’s new Chief Baseball Development Officer, charged with overseeing all of MLB’s many youth and amateur baseball and softball endeavors, as well as the streamlining of amateur scouting around the world and operations of the Arizona Fall League and college baseball tournaments.
His portfolio is pretty extensive and listed below.
Conspicuously absent from Reagins’ duties: anything at all to do with Minor League Baseball. There had been speculation that MLB was looking to wrap up all its amateur and future Minor League Baseball oversight under one banner, but if that’s the plan, it’s not part of the Reagins portfolio–as of now. Here’s the specific list of responsibilities, per MLB:
- Grassroots Participation – Continued growth of the “PLAY BALL” initiative, which launched in June 2015, includes multilateral partnerships with USA Baseball, USA Softball, the U.S. Conference of Mayors and Little League International, and features youth engagement events held in the United States (all 50 states, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico) and throughout the world. Initiative also includes widespread offerings to young people, including the in-school Fun At Bat program and the Pitch Hit & Run and Jr. Home Run Derby skills competitions.
- Diversity-Focused Programs – Reagins has led the proliferation of diversity-focused programs geared toward the development and advancement of baseball and softball student-athletes. These initiatives include amateur development camps with USA Baseball & USA Softball, such as the Hank Aaron Invitational (which is operated jointly with the Major League Baseball Players Association), DREAM Series, Breakthrough Series (which is inclusive of boys baseball, girls baseball, and softball), and the Elite Development Invitational (which is inclusive of girls baseball and softball). Additional efforts include the continued growth of the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program, which is located throughout the United States, South America, Canada, Europe and Africa. Former Major League Manager Jerry Manuel will continue to serve as a consultant for Reagins in the areas of the amateur baseball development programs.
- NOTE: 94-96% of alumni in the Hank Aaron Invitational, DREAM Series and Breakthrough Series who have graduated high school are playing (or have played) at the collegiate or professional levels.
- NOTE: Since 2016, participation in the in the RBI program has increased by nearly 160%.
- Youth Facility Management – This area includes operations and management of the MLB Youth Academies in Compton (California) and New Orleans (Louisiana) as well as connectivity to all facilities within the MLB Youth Academy network (Bronx, Chicago, Cincinnati, Dallas, Gurabo P.R., Houston, Kansas City, Philadelphia, Washington D.C.). Most recently, MLB announced the operational responsibility of the Jackie Robinson Training Complex in Vero Beach, Fla., which is the former Historic Dodgertown site once occupied by baseball legends such as Robinson, Roy Campanella and Don Newcombe (among many others). The Jackie Robinson Training Complex serves as a hub for many youth- and amateur-focused programming, such as the RBI World Series, Hank Aaron Invitational, Breakthrough Series, Elite Development Invitational, and others.
- Softball Growth – As part of the burgeoning partnership with USA Softball, MLB will continue to be the presenting sponsor of the “Stand Beside Her” training tour for the Women’s National Softball Team representing the United States in the Tokyo Summer Olympic Games taking place in 2021. Once safe to resume, the team will train at the Jackie Robinson Training Complex. Additionally, softball legends and Olympians Jennie Finch and Natasha Watley will continue to serve as Youth Softball Ambassadors for the Commissioner’s Office.
- ID Tour & Girls Baseball Programming – In 2020, MLB launched a new baseball development evaluation initiative to identify high school-aged baseball players for placement in more advanced development programs operated jointly by MLB and USA Baseball. This new initiative specifically targets young athletes from inner-city/diverse/underserved communities (MLB Tour) or female baseball players within larger city areas (MLB Grit). Since 2017, MLB has expanded its overall girls baseball efforts, including the Girls Baseball Elite Development Invitational, Girls Baseball Breakthrough Series, and the Trailblazer Series.
- College Baseball Tournaments – In celebration of College Baseball’s Opening Weekend each year, MLB hosts two collegiate baseball tournaments featuring teams participating in two separate events – the Andre Dawson Classic and MLB4. The Andre Dawson Classic is an effort to highlight baseball programs at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) while the MLB4 tournament features some of the top-ranked programs in the nation.
- Showcase Platforms for Prospects – Reagins will continue to oversee showcase platforms for organizational prospects through the Arizona Fall League and SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game as well as amateur players through States Play and the Prospect Development Pipeline (PDP) League.
- International Development – Since 2016, the MLB College Showcase Tour has produced nearly 80 players from 15 countries who have continued on to play at the professional or collegiate level in the United States. These countries include: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, China, Curaçao, Czech Republic, France, Italy, Moldova, Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain, and Uganda. MLB has also operated Elite Development programs in Brazil, Curaçao and Puerto Rico, resulting in more than 85 draft picks and international free agent signings since 2017. Additionally, since 2014, Major League Baseball and graduates of 26 MLB Coaching Development Programs have conducted 2,846 youth baseball clinics reaching 108,970 children across 29 countries.
Reagins’ experience with the Los Angeles Angels including a stint as Director of Player Development before becoming the fifth African-American General Manager in baseball history. As General Manager of the Angels, Reagins amassed a record of 363-285 (.560), averaging nearly 91 wins per season. His highlights included the Club’s consecutive American League West crowns in 2008-09 and its first 100-win season in franchise history in ’08.
There is a lot on Reagins’ plate; arguably, many of these initiatives are directly connected to the future of baseball in America. MLB doesn’t always do the best job of explaining the importance of these initiatives or showcasing the lives impacted by them. To succeed, these measures need to do more than just burnish MLB’s reputation. We spent time talking with two callers this morning about baseball programs Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs); there is an appetite for what is in the Reagins portfolio.