When it comes to the matter of finding baseball talent, maybe the only area where the Mariners derive industry-wide praise is international scouting. That's largely due to Bob Engle, who has supplied the Mariners with a lot of quality major leaguers, including Felix Hernandez, even if the players do wind up playing mostly for other teams.
Engle, the club's vice-president of international scouting, is leaving at the end of the month.
Engle, 66 on Nov. 1, who was hired by Hall of Fame general manager Pat Gillick in 2000 and worked for his successors, Bill Bavasi and Jack Zduriencik, was unclear about whether he would retire or take another job. He was honored atMLB's winter meetings in December as one of MLB's scouts of the year.
"This was a very tough decision for me," said Engle in a press release by the club. "I have had a great time in Seattle and am proud to have served with so many fine people in the international department. I cannot thank the scouts and field personnel enough for their dedication and hard work.
"I have to thank (CEO Howard Lincoln and president Chuck Armstrong) as well as ownership and the many people behind the scenes who are never recognized for their efforts and support. In addition, I want to thank (the three GMs) for allowing us to expand the international program since my arrival.
"This was a most difficult decision to make and am planning to take the remainder of October to spend time with my family and assess my future and if I want to retire or remain in the game."
In a phone interview with the Seattle Times' Larry Stone, Engle hinted at a push out the door from the Mariners.
"Sometimes, organizations want to change or re-align," he said. "Perhaps it was time for them. It's a perfect time to step back and step away for a little."
The Mariners also fired Patrick Guerrero, Engle's chief assistant in Latin America. First reported by Baseball America, GM Jack Zduriencik indirectly confirmed the termination via email to Baseball America: "We are thankful and appreciative of Patrick's efforts and contributions to the Seattle Mariners, and we wish him the very best in his future endeavors."
Engle and his crew are credited for signing Hernandez, Erasmo Ramirez, Michael Pineda, Greg Halman, Carlos Peguero, Jose Lopez and Carlos Triunfel, among many others. Engle was with Gillick in Toronto when the Blue Jays built teams that won the World Series in 1992 and 1993.
Guerrero, who was named after Gillick, joined the Mariners with Engle in 2000. His father, Epy, was a longtime scout for the Blue Jays in the Dominican Republic and created a baseball academy there. In May, according to Baseball America, the Mariners moved out of Epy Guerrero's complex and into a complex they share with the Dodgers. The team bought land and plans to build a new facility.
During Engle's time in Toronto, the Jays drafted Roy Halladay, Chris Carpenter and Pat Hentgen, who, like Hernandez, won American League Cy Young Awards.
Engle lives in Florida, but estimated he spends 175 days a year traveling to Latin America, Europe and Asia in pursuit of baseball talent.
MLB instituted for the first time in 2012 caps on spending for international scouting, which may make life harder for scouts like Engle.