Preston Mattingly is one of the young faces of baseball who has an ultra-bright future ahead of him in the game. He also has the bloodline associated with his famous last name, being the son of Yankees great Don “Donnie Baseball” Mattingly. As a player, the younger Mattingly saw that things just weren’t going to go well even though the Dodgers used him with their first-round pick (31st overall) in 2006. He reached High-A ball, with decent but not exorbitant numbers and pursued baseball from another angle.
As the story goes, shortly after being hired as the Phillies president of baseball operations, David Dombrowski was told by someone close to him that he should consider hiring Mattingly to work with the Phillies. That stuck with Dombrowski and as part of his project to reshape the farm system, he placed Mattingly among the 10 people that he interviewed for the job and was impressed.
Now, the 34-year old former Padres front office member, has quite the task ahead of him in reshaping what is generally perceived as one of the worst farm systems in baseball despite having a top 10 pick in the draft each year from 2014 to 2018. Many of the young players who have reached the majors through the Phillies system have regressed horribly, with Scott Kingery as the shining example. Others who were once considered legitimate prospects just flamed out in the minors and never even made the major league level.
This is the first farm system that Mattingly has overseen, but he has a vast and varied array of experience. He is well versed in pro scouting, minor league free agency and the draft and served as the Padres coordinator of major league scouting and game-planning.
So, where to start? Don’t be surprised if Mattingly, with Dombrowski’s blessing, blows up the player development system. One place to start might be among minor league managers and coaches. One source believes that Lehigh Valley IronPigs manager Gary Jones may be on his way out after the Triple-A season ends on Sunday. Look for Lehigh Valley bench coach Pat Borders to potentially take over as Boss Hogg for the ‘Pigs.
One characteristic that Dombrowski went looking for in a new player development director was the ability to combine both traditional scouting and baseball know-how with the analytical side of the game. The Phillies ignored analytics for years and when they finally embraced the ideas, they overdosed with horrible results. Now, the organization has an unhealthy mix of people on one side of the fence or the other and much like republicans and democrats, they can’t come to grips on how to work together effectively.