Future Stars Series Advisory Board Profile: Junior Vizcaino

If you’ve been in pro ball long enough, you’ve almost surely come across Junior Vizcaino.

Perhaps it was as a player?  A two-time MLB draft pick who joined the Pittsburgh Pirates system after they took him in the 14th round in 1987 out of Valdosta State University, the big corner infielder advanced to Double-A in a four-year pro career, finishing up as a career .259 hitter with 22 homers and 156 RBI in 341 pro games.

Perhaps it was a scout?  Vizcaino began his scouting career in 1994 with the Atlanta Braves, first as a four corners supervisor, and then for a long run overseeing the Carolinas and Virginia, winning a World Series ring in 1995 for his efforts.  After that, however, he was off for an incredible 16-year run with the Kansas City Royals, working as a crosschecker both domestically and in Puerto Rico.

After a one-year stay with the Boston Red Sox in a similar capacity, however, it was time to come back home.

So, perhaps it was as director of international scouting?  That’s Vizcaino’s current role with the Pirates, returning in late 2017 to the organization where he made a name for himself as a player.  He’s made waves ever since his return, recently earning praise for bringing in two of MLB Pipeline’s top 12 international free agents this past offseason, namely Tony Blanco, Jr. and Yordany de los Santos.

“Tony is a big and strong corner outfielder with the ability to drive the baseball with power from line to line,” Vizcaino told Pipeline. “We see Tony as a middle-of-the-lineup type hitter who will drive the baseball with power. Defensively, Tony has a true right fielder’s arm and is athletic enough to close the outfield gaps defensively.  Yordany is an athletic, physical shortstop with the tools to be a plus defender and hit in the middle of the lineup.  He comes from a baseball family. His two younger brothers are following in his footsteps and his dad is a softball player. He has the makeup to be a leader on the field and in the clubhouse.”

Both were part of a massive haul of international signings, with the hopes of bolstering a constantly changing Pirates farm system over time.  If his impact there is anything like what he’s done on the advisory board of the New Balance Baseball Future Stars Series, where he’s had an invaluable presence as a sounding board for president and CEO Jeremy Booth, things will be turning around in Pittsburgh sooner rather than later.

“Junior is a game changer,” Booth said.

“One of the best evaluators I’ve ever been around, and always a true friend. The guys got everyone’s back he works with regardless if he likes you or not because it’s always about the bigger picture with him. It’s always about the greater good. He and I have spent some time on the trail together seemingly all over there world, and it’s always the same. The man is family and the amount of energy he’s out into my and others well being and advancement is immeasurable. You’re going to get his opinion if you ask and not fluff, but man that’s an opinion you want.”

Mike Ashmore

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