Torrington native Kirk Fredriksson Works His Dream Job as Baseball Scout. Story by John Torsiello.
By, JOHN TORSIELLO
In mid-March, when most of us were still shaking off the bounds of a brutal winter and looking at snow-covered lawns and fields, Torrington’s Kirk Fredriksson was doing what he loves to do, watching baseball in the warm sunshine.
The former general manager of the Torrington Twisters of the New England Collegiate Baseball League was working on his tan, taking in college games in the sunny climate of Florida, as he took notes as a scout in the Baltimore Orioles system. He is entering his fourth season in the position, which he calls a “dream job.”
Fredriksson was the GM of the Twisters for 12 years and also worked in a similar capacity for several other franchises. He attended the Gilbert School and Southern Connecticut State University, moved around a bit, and then came back to Torrington, where he has lived for much of his adulthood.
Fredriksson’s professional life has been intertwined with baseball. He played the game and then became involved on the management side of things when he served as commissioner for the Tri-State League back in the 1990’s. When he caught wind that a collegiate summer league team night be coming to Torrington, his ears perked up and he attend an informational meeting on the topic.
“I mostly wanted to be sure the team wouldn’t take dates away from the Tri-State League and I found out that it was quite the opposite,” he said, as he talked on the telephone from a game in Port Charlotte, Fl. this week. “The state was going to put in funding toward renovating Fuessenich Park, which was really needed. I was eventually asked if I was interested in helping out and before you know it I was the general manager, Pat Powers was president, and Gregg Hunt was manager of the team.”
While with the Twisters, Fredriksson began to hone his skills as a talent evaluator, building a team from scratch each year, scouting and studying college players who were interested in playing the NECBL. He also became acquainted with Greg Morhardt, a former minor league player and Twisters assistant coach, who was doing some scouting for the Anaheim Angels. At Morhardt’s urging Fredriksson worked as a sort of unofficial associate scout for the Angles for a few years, which also helped him develop the skills necessary to become a full-time scout.
While with the Twisters and working with other NECBL teams, Fredriksson, now 50, met of Dan Duquette, who would became the Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations.
“I got to know Dan when I was able to help him recruit some players for his team in the NECBL. He asked me if I wanted to get back into baseball when I left for while that I should look him up. He is a man of his word and he offered me a job as a full-time scout for the organization.”
Fredriksson is scouting for the Orioles in New England, most of New York State and New Jersey. He scouts high school and college games and also some minor and Major League games, looking for young talent for the big club to sign and keeping an eye on professional players that the team may want to trade for or pick up on waivers if a need arises.
“It’s a lot of work and a lot of travel but I love it, said Fredriksson, who was in the midst of a schedule that saw him visiting five cities in Florida in a five-day span to evaluate talent. (Many college teams from the Northeast start their seasons in the warm weather of Florida before moving back to their home fields up north.)
What makes a good baseball scout? “Well, you have to be able to recognize when a player has tools to play the game and how they apply those tools,” said Fredriksson, whose son, Alan, was an All-State baseball player at Torrington High School and played at the University of North Georgia. Another son, Ryan, also attended Torrington High School, Towson State University, and is currently a graduate student at the University of Baltimore.
“You look at body types and their attitudes. We don’t do as many home visits as we once did because kids these days are all over Twitter and you can get a pretty good read on a kid’s mental makeup from reading his tweets, and coaches will give you a good rundown on their kids. If we really like a kid, we will do a home visit.”
Fredriksson is pleased to note that he has had success in helping the O’s land some talented young players, including a high school pitcher from Buffalo, N.Y., Jonah Heim, who was a fourth round pick of the team; a left-handed pitcher from Dartmouth University, Mitch Horacek; and a first baseman from the University of Notre Dame, Trey Mancini, both of whom went in the top 10 rounds of the Major League draft.
He also recommended drafting Torrington High School and Western Connecticut State University star Conor Bierfeldt, who has had a remarkable start to his pro career and seems like a player on the organization’s fast track.
“These kids have made me look smart,” quipped Fredriksson, who attempts to be at home sweet home as much as he can during the season and spends time in T-Town during the brief off-season.
“I try and make my scouting assignments during the spring and summer day trips, so that I come home every night,” he adds.
Fredriksson works under the Orioles’ director of scouting Gary Rajsich.
“I have learned so much from Andy as well as Dan. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to work for a great organization like the Orioles. I don’t know where this will lead. But I’m happy to be at games and scouting right now and don’t know if I would ever like to change that.”