As the Florida Marlins' vice president of player development and scouting and assistant general manager, Jim Fleming is a big part of the Marlins working to get back into championship form. During the last three years, Fleming has been a part of Marlins drafts that have taken Yukon's Chad James in the first round (2009) and Carl Albert's J.T. Realmuto in the third round (2010). The former OU assistant, who still lives in Purcell, was in Oklahoma City last week to watch the Marlins' Triple-A affiliate New Orleans Zephyrs play the RedHawks.
“I got into this by accident. I started coaching in professional baseball and then was also doing some scouting. I don't know, it just snowballed into scouting director, then from that to farm director and overseeing both of them. It just kind of happened. It wasn't by design by any means.
I'm a coach at heart, so I like player development. But scouting's good, too, and they're all kind of interrelated. I like dealing with trying to intermingle the two and try to get player development and scouting to not only coexist but to get along and improve each other and learn from each other.
My biggest influences were the coaches that I had when I was at the University of Arizona. I played for Jerry Kindall, who was a big leaguer. There was a guy there named Mark Johnson that was the head coach at Texas A&M for a lot of years. There was another guy there, the pitching coach Jim Wing. All three of them were unbelievable baseball people. They were really highly thought of in the profession and really understood the game and were really great workers. I'd always been in love with the game but they're the ones that really showed me the possibilities.
In pro ball, there were different guys. I worked for Gary Hughes in scouting and John Boles, who ended up being a big-league manager, in player development. There's a lot of people along the way that you go, ‘Oh geez, they were really important.' If you're a good baseball guy, you steal from everybody. That's what it's all about. There aren't a whole lot of original ideas in the game but you're continually processing information. I don't know that I've changed my philosophy a lot, but a lot of the time you hear something and that's a better way to phrase it or it's a better way to get to that. You want to try to continue to learn the game. The older I get, the more into the game I get, the less I know. It's not a complicated game but it's a hard game. The key for young players is don't make it complicated. It has to be enjoyable.
Scouting is tough because you're working on 18-year-old kids and you're trying to decide if in four years this 18-year-old kid's going to be able to play in the major leagues. You're looking at physical, mental makeup and there's so many facets of it and that's not easy. You miss more than you hit and that's part of it. You've got to have guys delve into all parts. We do a pretty good job with bringing in quality kids that will work.
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