If the Orioles decide to replace John Stockstill as director of player development, the top in-house candidate appears to be former coach Brian Graham, the coordinator of minor league instruction.
We've been told that the final decision will be made by the new president of baseball operations. The Orioles are trying to make these hires and announcements in their proper order. But multiple sources in the industry have confirmed that Graham is a leading contender for the job and would be highly recommended to Andy MacPhail's replacement.
Graham apparently made a recent trip to Baltimore, most likely to discuss the position.
Graham completed his fourth season in the Orioles' minor league system. His current duties involve overseeing the teaching and instructional process for the six affiliates.
Before joining the Orioles, Graham spent six seasons as the Pirates' director of player development. During that period, the Pirates' system produced the second-highest total of home grown players to reach the majors. Not that they were potentially blocked by big-ticket free agents, but nonetheless ...
The Pirates' affiliates also finished with the fourth-best overall winning percentage among the 30 major league organizations and were honored as the 2002 Tops Baseball Organization of the Year.
Graham also served as Pittsburgh's interim general manager in September 2007.
I got to know Graham when he served as the eye-in-the-sky on Orioles manager Mike Hargrove's staff in 2000. The Orioles had one extra coach who couldn't be in uniform during games, and Graham reluctantly took that assignment. Hargrove wanted him to coach first base, but Eddie Murray held the position.
Graham was the Marlins' field coordinator in 2001 and an Indians coach under Hargrove in 1998 and 1999.
I was told by many people that Graham would make a good major league manager. He had a lot of success in the minors, with his teams in the Indians' organization finishing above .500 for all nine seasons. He was in charge of eight straight playoff teams and compiled a 704-491 record. USA Today Baseball Weekly named him Minor League Manager of the Year in 1996.
Anyway, keep him in mind if the Orioles reassign Stockstill.