Rocco Baldelli spent seven years in the big leagues before calling it quits after the 2010 season. Upon his retirement, the Tampa Bay Rays brought their former first-round draft pick into the front office, where he now serves in the role of baseball operations special assistant. We tracked down Baldelli after a panel at this year’s MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, and asked about adjusting to a new role, his early embrace of analytics, and the benefits of working with an open-minded manager.
You work in a front office that’s limited in terms of high-level baseball playing experience. Did you feel that was something you could bring to the table, having played in the majors very recently, then bringing that experience right upstairs?
Maybe Andrew [Friedman] was thinking that. At the time I was just interested in working in the front office. But I’ve always been interested in this aspect of the game. When I was a young player, I would talk with [Rays scouting director] R.J. Harrison about things. This was when I was at A-ball.