Sal Agostinelli claims to stand 5-foot-7. He, however, has a much bigger frame in the baseball world. He may have never played in the big leagues, but he played around big leaguers. He learned by watching and listening what separated big leaguers from the other players in the game.
And after a 10-year minor-league career, which began with him being a 22nd round draft choice of the Cardinals after his senior year at Slippery Rock University – where he set what at the time was a school record .466 in 1981, which is still No. 3 on the school charts – and ended with him having spent two years at Triple-A with the Phillies.
And he’s been a Phillie ever since he was acquired in a trade prior to the 1989 season. It wasn’t a coincidence that in the off-season, Lee Thomas, who had been the Cardinals farm director, was hired as the general manager of the Phillies.
Thomas knew that Agostinelli could provide leadership for younger players in the farm system as a player with the abilities to remain a part of the organization once his playing career ended.
Agostinelli has been a Phillie ever since, remaining despite three changes in the general manager’s office.
He spent three seasons playing in the minors, one year as a coach in the rookie Appalachian League, in which he did play in one game, and the last 26 years in scouting. He served as an area scout for four years before assuming his current role as the Phillies international scouting director.
“I could have probably hooked on with another team, but I had had enough,” he said. “It is hard to take the uniform off, but it has been a good thing.”
It has allowed him to spend his life working in the game which has been a passion since a youth in which he learned to play baseball on the asphalt fields in the Bronx.
His success is underscored by recognition he has received.
Elected to the Slippery Rock Hall of Fame in 1995, he received the Lou DeMartino Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012, and the Dallas Green Award for 2015.
Now, he can add the Scout of the Year International Scout Award 2018 to his list of recognitions.
The fact he was selected by his fellow scouts for his latest honor underscores Agostinelli’s impact on the game, although he will down play his role.
“Scouting is a very humbling job,” he said. “You are always making mistakes.”
Agostinelli has had plenty of successes, however, highlighted by the time area scout Allan Lewis asked Agostinelli to come to Panama to check out a second baseman.
“He didn’t run very well,” recalled Agostinelli.
That being the case, Lewis suggested looking at the kid as a potential catcher. Agostinelli liked the arm strength.
“I said, `If you think he’s one of the best hitters you’ve ever had, sign him,” Agostinelli remembed.
And Lewis followed up, singing Carlos Ruiz, an All-Star who was the catcher on the Phillies 2008 World Championship team, for $8,000.
His resume includes the likes of Ruiz, pitchers Carlos Carrasco, Elizardo Ramires, Carlos Silva, Alfredo Simon and Lendy Castillo, infielder Jose Flores, outfielder Cesar Hernandez, and second baseman Freddy Galvis, whom Agostinelli first saw as a 14-year-old.
“There was a 14-15 year old tournament going on (in Venezuela), and I just stopped in to see what was going on,” said Agostinelli. “We followed him for two years and signed him when he was 16 years old.”