Person of Interest: The 411 on new Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins

Baseball insider Jon Paul Morosi joins Prime Time Sports to debate Mark Shapiro’s track record in Cleveland and the decision to hire new Jays GM Ross Atkins over Tony LaCava.

In the aftermath of the news that Ross Atkins has been named general manger of the Toronto Blue Jays, it left many baseball fans outside of Cleveland saying, “Who?”

Here’s what you need to know about Toronto’s newest GM.

Name: Ross Atkins
Age: 42
From: Greensboro, N.C.
Team he’s coming from: Cleveland Indians
Years in MLB: 15

He’s no stranger to Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro…

In fact, he has worked with Shapiro his entire career. Just like Shapiro, Atkins was a lifelong member of the Indians franchise prior to this new venture with the Blue Jays.

Atkins first joined the Indians’ front office in 2001 where he was the club’s assistant director of player development for three seasons. He then spent 2004-06 as the Indians’ director of Latin American operations before being named director of player development in 2007. After three years in that role he was promoted to VP of player development. Prior to the 2015 campaign he was bumped up to VP of player personnel. Atkins and Shapiro assisted in leading the Indians to two AL Central titles (2001, 2007) and aim to lead the Blue Jays to a second consecutive AL East title in 2016.

He has a knack for finding talent…

While Shapiro and Atkins never advanced to a World Series together, they succeeded in helping developing that franchise’s depth. Proof is the fact that at least one Indians minor-league affiliate has produced a league champion in five of the past seven seasons.

Many of the Indians prospects discovered during Atkins’ tenure there went on to become respected major leaguers.

He is a former pitcher…

Prior to Thursday, Atkins had spent his entire front office career with the Indians, which was exactly how he spent his playing days.

After playing four years at Wake Forest University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in economics, he was drafted – in fact he was drafted twice. He was selected in the 69th round of the 1994 MLB June Amateur Draft by the Florida Marlins and he was drafted again in 1995 by the Indians in the 38th round.

From 1995-1999, Atkins toiled away in the Indians’ minor league system. He played one year for Watertown of the New York-Pennsylvania League, one year for Columbus in the South Atlantic League, one year for Kinston in the Carolina League and two seasons of double-A ball with Akron in the Eastern League. His minor league record was 37-32 where he had a 4.13 ERA in total appearances.

He has some experience as a coach…

Atkins has a unique relationship with former major leaguer Danys Baez. After Atkins’ playing career, he served as Baez’s pitching coach and English-speaking translator as the Cuban transitioned to the United States in 2000. Baez spent his first three seasons with the Indians.

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