The Phillies got a late start in the rush for Latin American talent, The Reading Eagle wrote in 1998.
Helping them make up for that, though, was scout Sal Agostinelli, a former catcher.
"I like it a lot," Agostinelli told The Reading Eagle in April 1998 of his move to the scouting ranks. "If you see a player you like and you work hard, you can sign him right away. A lot of it is time and effort. The more players you see, the more chance you have to see a guy who might be a special kid."
Among the players Agostinelli is credited with signing is the Phillies current catcher and Panamanian product Carlos Ruiz, a player who would spend six seasons in the minors before breaking out as the big league starter.
As a player himself, Agostinelli would spend as many and more seasons in the minors, but Agostinelli would never make the make the majors.
Agostinelli's playing career began in 1983, taken by the Cardinals in the 22nd round out of Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania.
He played that first year between rookie ball in Johnson City and short-season Erie, hitting .247 between them.
For 1984 and 1985, Agostinelli caught in single-A, at Savannah in 1984 and St. Petersburg in 1985. He hit .234 at Savannah and .270 at St. Petersburg. In early September 1985, an Agostinelli single helped start a two-run rally.
The catcher also worked with and, when they did well, praised his pitchers.
"Paul was getting everything over tonight," Agostinelli told The St. Petersburg Evening Independent of his pitcher Paul Cherry's performance in a 5-1 win. "The bottom line was the fact that he changed speeds well and kept them off balance. "
Agostinelli made AA for the first time in 1986, at Arkansas. He made AAA Louisville briefly in 1987 and again in 1988, but never made St. Louis.
By 1989, Agostinelli was with the Phillies, the team he remains with as a scout today. He played that year at AA Reading, then spent much of 1990 with the AAA club at Scranton. His final year came in 1991, shuttling between single-A Clearwater, Reading and Scranton.
By 1993, Agostinelli was a scout. He returned to Reading in that capacity for a series in July 1993. To The Eagle, Agostinelli said being a scout was simply another way to stay involved in the game he loved.
"Well, I tell you," Agostinelli told The Eagle. "I always really enjoyed the game. I just love the game. I just love to be out here. To tell you the truth, I just enjoy being anywhere watching baseball."
Agostinelli has continued as a scout with the Phillies, long since serving as the Phillies international scouting supervisor, signing the likes of Ruiz.
Agostinelli and his scouts first spotted Ruiz as a second baseman. They quickly realized he was really a catcher.
"We thought he was too small for an infielder," Agostinelli told The Philadelphia Inquirer in April 2009. "I saw he had a good arm, and I saw he could swing the bat. When you sign a guy, you hope that he has the intangibles."
In addition to his scouting duties, Agostinelli also runs Sal Agostinelli's Long Island Baseball Academy in Kings Park, NY.
Read the February 2013 interview: Sal Agostinelli, Got Close
- St. Petersburg Evening Independent, Aug. 19, 1985: Paul Cherry kept his numbers together
- Reading Eagle, July 29, 1993: Sal Agostinelli is back again
- Reading Eagle, April 10, 1998: Agostinelli catches on as a scout
- Philadelphia Inquirer, April 4, 2009: Knowing staff catchers most important tool
Cards Featured: 476/880 - 54.1%
Players/Coaches Featured: 487
Made the Majors: 327 - 67%
Never Made the Majors:160-33%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 136
10+ Seasons in the Minors: 114-X