In the latest of the rash of front office and scout personnel returning to Atlanta, California scout Tom Battista has left the Boston Red Sox and returned to the Braves' organization as a crosschecker (essentially a scout who oversees other scouts and corroborates their reports in a particular geographical area), per ESPN's Keith Law.
The rebuilding of the @Braves' scouting staff continues - Tom Battista, who signed Freddie Freeman & Tommy Hanson, returns as crosschecker.— keithlaw (@keithlaw) October 15, 2014
Law's tweet alludes to two of Battista's best signings, Tommy Hanson and Freddie Freeman, both of whom were discovered during Battista's tenure as an amateur scout and crosschecker on the West Coast from 2004 until 2010. Other signings attributed to Battista during his time in Atlanta include Kris Medlen and current Arizona Fall League participant Aaron Northcraft. Battista's most high-profile signing as a scout for the Red Sox is prospect Henry Owens, one of the premier left-handed pitchers in the Minor Leagues.
California, especially Southern California, where Battista is based, is a huge source of baseball talent, and one that the Braves focused less on after Battista's departure. If you don't believe me, check out this map, courtesy of Slate, showing just how concentrated the talent base of baseball players is in the Golden State.
Out of 50 "states" of equal population, seven (14%) are contained wholly within Southern California, with chunks of the Garza Strip and Harperada also extending into the territory. If you want something a little more simplistic and numerical, native Californians have generally comprised 20-25% of American-born MLB players in any given year in the 21st century.
Battista has a reputation for his propensity to identify amateur talent in the region, so this hire appears to be a step towards the reinvigoration of the Braves' amateur scouting team, which declined in quality somewhat in recent years. Nothing is certain, but it appears that the Braves have re-acquired a scout who could be a difference-maker for the team's ability to build a strong farm system and home-grown talent.
After the hire was announced, everyone's favorite acerbic retired third baseman, Chipper Jones, took to twitter to express his thoughts on Battista's return (and the flood of returnees to the organization in general):
Amazing that all these people are coming BACK to the Braves organization! Wonder why??? Hmmmmm....— Chipper Jones (@RealCJ10) October 15, 2014
Despite his strengths, it's come to light in the days and weeks following his departure as the Braves' general manager that he may not have been the easiest person for whom to work. That Battista, Roy Clark, and Bobby Cox have returned to the front office (Cox has taken a more active role since Wren's departure) seems to indicate that Frank Wren may not have gotten along particularly with others in the front office.
It's an interesting thought from a player who was intimately familiar with the organization during the tenures of both John Schuerholz and Frank Wren. Wren's firing may have been less of an indictment of his ability to make baseball decisions, but rather of his possibly difficult nature. As outsiders who don't have access to the workings of the front office on a daily basis, we can't know for certain, but this is a strong indication that Wren's personality and/or demeanor may not have been the most pleasant.