After winning a World Series ring in 2008 as a scout for the Philadelphia Phillies, Juneau-Douglas High School alum Tim Kissner has taken a promotion in the form of a new position with the Chicago Cubs.
Kissner, 39, is the Cubs’ new West Coast Supervisor, otherwise known as a crosschecker. Kissner was formerly the Pacific Rim Coordinator for the Phillies for 10 years, and a scout for the Cleveland Indians before that.
A conversation between the Cubs’ and Phillies’ scouting directors, Tim Wilken and Marti Wolever, respectively, led to his new position.
In scouting, the country is broken up into thirds, and the Cubs have six full-time scouts on the West Coast in different regions like Northern California, the Pacific Northwest, Southern California and so on, Kissner said.
Those scouts scour the ranks of high school, junior college and college players, getting to know them, evaluating their talents and determining whether or not they’re signable.
Kissner is now responsible for sorting through the six lists of players covering the 16 western states, and meshing them into a master list for the MLB draft.
“Basically, scouting is done in layers. I filter through all of (the six regional scouts’ lists), and their evaluations are extremely important because the Cubs rely on them and their opinions,” Kissner said. “I compare the players in the different regions and come up with one list that puts all of their players in order. That’s how we go about selecting once the draft rolls around.”
Kissner still scouts players, but his evaluations are now more important because he’s lining up the entire West Coast.
The tough thing, Kissner said, was leaving an organization that’s been so good to him, an organization also tabbed as the early line favorite to get back to the World Series after adding Cliff Lee to a pitching rotation that already included Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hammels.
“The Phillies are such a great organization and I spent 11 years with them. I made many, many dear, lifelong friends but ultimately, you’ve got to do what’s best for yourself,” he said. “Having a great big league team is definitely a perk. To be able to open the sports page every day and see that your team is doing well is great, but that’s not really what my job is all about. It’s about finding the next young players that will help the Cubs get to the level where the Phillies are.”
The Cubs famously haven’t won the World Series since 1908, the longest championship drought in professional sports in the U.S, but have one of the greatest fan bases in the country. Chicago won back-to-back division titles as recently as the 2007 and ’08 seasons.
Kissner said the Cubs, while not having as much recent success as the Phillies, who have won four straight division titles and two of the last three National League pennants, are run much the same way.
“It’s an organization that’s run by baseball people, for one. It’s an organization, like the Phillies, that’s built on scouting and player development,” he explained. “They’re not going to go out and just buy high-priced free agents. You can do that to supplement, but they really believe in scouting tools as opposed to statistics. We really feel like we’re going to make ourselves through the draft and through developing our own players.
“We want to sign and scout the best available players and in order to do so, you have to dream a lot of the time when watching 18-year-old high school kids,” he continued. “You have to dream and you can’t be afraid to make mistakes.”
Kissner is relocating from Seattle to Long Beach, Calif., where he lived previously, and is excited about his new opportunity — and the fact he’ll get to spend a lot more time at home. In 2008, he spent 100 nights in Asia on scouting trips.
“As neat and great of an experience it was to travel throughout Asia extensively the last couple of years, I’m really looking forward to spending more time in the U.S., and I’m really looking forward to being more involved in the draft with the Cubs,” he said. “And I’m just really excited about the new opportunity.”