On cusp of GM Mike Elias’ fifth year with Orioles, his time in Houston still paying off for Astros – The Denver Post


Next month, Mike Elias will enter his fifth calendar year as the Orioles’ executive vice president and general manager. The team he left to take that role, the Houston Astros, has reached the World Series in three of the first four.

As a scouting director and assistant general manager for Houston, Elias played a large role in building a foundation of talent that has produced a World Series title in 2017 — one tainted by a cheating scandal in which Elias, assistant general manager Sig Mejdal and any other Astros employees now with Baltimore were not implicated — and three subsequent pennants. Of the 27 players the Astros rostered in the two postseason rounds before their World Series matchup with the Philadelphia Phillies, many have at least somewhat of a tie to Elias or the work he did in Houston.

Some have more direct connections than others. Of course, there’s Trey Mancini, the longest-tenured Oriole who Elias traded to his former organization in August. One of four non-rookie Astros who hadn’t appeared in a playoff game until this year, Mancini struggled after the trade, batting .176 with a .622 OPS, and is still looking for his first hit of the postseason.

Seven players who made either of Houston’s American League Division Series or Championship Series roster were drafted during Elias’ time overseeing amateur scouting for Houston. That group includes three first-round selections in right-hander Lance McCullers Jr., third baseman Alex Bregman and outfielder Kyle Tucker. Elias’ most notable draftee from his Houston tenure, 2012 first overall pick Carlos Correa, left in free agency last offseason, but ALCS Most Valuable Player Jeremy Peña, his replacement as the Astros’ shortstop, was their third-round choice in Elias’ last draft there in 2018. That speaks to what Elias is trying to build in Baltimore, a pipeline such that a talented player who leaves can be replaced by another.

Outfielders Jake Meyers and Chas McCormick, both 2017 draftees, and David Hensley, an infielder taken late in the 2018 draft, have also made at least one of Houston’s playoff rosters.

Another five Astros were acquired in trades involving players drafted under Elias. Houston’s fifth-round picks in 2013, 2015 and 2016 were part or all of the returns to land catcher Martín Maldonado, utility man Aledmys Díaz and right-hander Rafael Montero, with utility man Mauricio Dubón acquired for a ninth-round pick. Like Maldonado, Cy Young Award favorite Justin Verlander has since re-signed with the Astros as a free agent, but the organization initially acquired him in a trade for three prospects, two of whom were Elias-era draftees taken in the top three rounds.

This offseason figures to be the first in which Elias will be tasked with trading away players he’s drafted to Baltimore. With Elias having promised “liftoff from here” and an increase to the Orioles’ payroll, it’s expected Baltimore will explore moving some of the prospects in its well-regarded stockpile to add major league players. Houston’s collection shows that the possibilities can be both role players to round out a roster as well as established aces (along with Verlander, Elias draftees were part of Houston’s packages to land Gerrit Cole and Zack Greinke).

Six Astros were signed as international free agents during Elias’ time in Houston, though those acquisitions each predated him becoming the lead of that department in August 2017. Another two were traded for using exclusively that type of signee. It’s uncertain whether Elias has direct ties to this group, though his work in player development might have played a role in them being major league factors or prospects with trade value. The same could apply to Yordan Alvarez, acquired in a trade where pieces on neither side had Elias connections.

Regardless of Elias’ exact influence, a good chunk of the Astros’ roster being byproducts of their international efforts speaks to an element of his time with Baltimore that has grown impressively but is yet to come to fruition. Given most Latin players sign as teenagers, it often takes years for them to reach the majors, and the Orioles’ crop of signees are beginning to populate the lower minors. Deals in this area are also agreed upon years in advance, meaning Baltimore’s front office under Elias was operating from behind early but is getting progressively closer to the top of the market. In the previous two cycles, the Orioles inked three players to seven-figure deals, and the club has a new academy in the Dominican Republic nearing completion.

Four of the five remaining five Astros were acquired after Elias left for Baltimore through the draft, free agency or a waiver claim, with the other being second baseman Jose Altuve, who debuted with Houston before Elias even left the St. Louis Cardinals to join the Astros. Houston’s only external major league free agents being relievers Héctor Neris and Ryne Stanek speaks to the organization’s quality of internal development, something Elias has tried to build in Baltimore throughout his tenure. The Phillies’ most notable faces, meanwhile, are largely high-priced free agents.

Both teams show a path to contention for the Orioles, and they’ll spend the next week-plus competing with each other to win the World Series. Its end will mark the start of Elias’ first offseason with the Orioles in which he’ll try to build a team capable of repeating his Houston success and bringing a title to Baltimore.



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