Mike Elias Named Houston Astros Scouting Director

HOUSTON, TX - JUNE 26: Infieler Nolan Fontana of the Houston Texans, who was selected by Houston in the second round of the 2012 MLB First Year Player Draft, is introduced during a press conference at Minute Maid Park on June 26, 2012 in Houston, Texas. Fontana is flanked by Bobby Heck, Asst. General Manager, left, and Jeff Luhnow, Houston Astros General Manager. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

This was unexpected.

Per the Astros team release:

The Astros have named Mike Elias as scouting director, General Manager Jeff Luhnow announced today.

In his newly-appointed role, Elias, 29, will oversee amateur scouting and the draft. Elias joined the Astros in January as a special assistant to the general manager/scouting. Prior to joining Houston, Elias had been in the Cardinals organization since 2007 where he served as a scout before being promoted to manager of amateur scouting, which was a role that included crosschecking responsibilities.

"Mike has a keen eye for talent and a unique ability to blend scouting opinions with other valuable information like the players’ makeup, performance history or medical risk," Luhnow commented. "I’ve worked with Mike for many years now and believe his leadership and evaluation skills will help us maximize the output of our drafts for years to come."

Bobby Heck's contract was not renewed, and he will be leaving the organization, apparently. The reason this comes as a surprise is it seemed like Heck has done a good job of molding this farm system. He has shown a knack for drafting and finding young arms who may not have a high profile, but who have developed into good players.

But, at the same time, this WAS expected. Luhnow came in at a time where he didn't have the opportunity to structure his front office the way he might have wanted. He brought in Elias but had to give him a different title at the time. Heck still probably helped out quite a bit, but I imagine Elias had plenty of input on this year's draft.

What will also be interesting to see is if this is the first move in a series of moves, including with the Director of Player Development position merging into the Scouting Director position. That's how Luhnow had it in St. Louis, right? And he's professed a liking for it since he's been in Houston, right? Certainly, Fred Nelson isn't one of Luhnow's guys, as he was already with the organization when Luhnow was hired.

Between now and October, I'd expect to see some more shifts in this front office as Houston gets set for the offseason. But, they won't all be easy moves. Some will require some guts, like this one, letting a successful scouting director like Heck go.

More importantly, what will "What The Heck, Bobby?" be called now? I'd nominate "Elias Scouting Bureau."

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