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Pirates promote Steve Williams to director of pro scouting in series of moves

| Friday, Dec. 1, 2017, 4:57 p.m.
Pirates general manager Neal Huntington smiles as he watches batting practice from the dugout at George Steinbrenner Field before a game against the Yankees on March 5, 2017, in Tampa.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates general manager Neal Huntington smiles as he watches batting practice from the dugout at George Steinbrenner Field before a game against the Yankees on March 5, 2017, in Tampa.

There is new leadership in the Pirates' scouting department.

On Friday, Steve Williams was named director of pro scouting, and Junior Vizcaino was brought in to be the director of international scouting.

Williams has 30 years' scouting experience and has spent the past decade with the Pirates, most recently as their pro scout supervisor.

“He has a strong combination of abilities and leadership,” general manager Neal Huntington said. “We've gone without a direct leader of that department for a number of years, and we felt Steve would allow us to continue to improve that department and enhance the direction in which it's going.”

Vizcaino replaces Rene Gayo, who was fired in mid-November. A former minor league player in the Pirates system, Vizcaino worked this past season as the global crosschecker for the Boston Red Sox.

The Pirates made a significant addition to their big league coaching staff by naming Justin Meccage their assistant pitching coach. Having Meccage around could ease the transition to the majors for the Pirates' next wave of pitchers.

“We think Justin is going to be an ideal complement to (pitching coach) Ray Searage and (bullpen coach) Euky Rojas,” Huntington said. “Justin has a tremendous ability to connect with players. He has an existing relationship with most of our young pitchers.”

Meccage spent the past year as the Pirates' minor league pitching coordinator. He also has been the pitching coach at short-season Single-A State College (2011-2012), High-A Bradenton (2013-2014) and Double-A Altoona (2015-2016).

“Justin is going to make a really good major league pitching coach someday,” Searage told the Tribune-Review in March 2016. “Who knows? He may be next in line behind me. That's fine. I think that's great.”

Other front office moves by the Pirates:

• Greg Smith and Sean McNally were named special assistants to the general manager.

Smith formerly was the scouting director and in 2016 was promoted to assistant GM. Huntington stressed that Smith's new role is not in any way connected to the firing of Gayo.

“Greg and I talked about where he was and where we are,” Huntington said. “We agreed that his best role with us is as an evaluator/adviser. That best matches his strengths and his passion. He'll continue to be an integral part of our baseball operations department and our decision-making process.”

• Joe Douglas and Justin Newman joined the baseball informatics department as quantitative analysts.

• Trey Rose was named baseball operations assistant

• John Birkbeck and Matt Taylor were hired as scouting assistants.

Note: As expected, the Pirates tendered contracts to all four of their arbitration-eligible players: Gerrit Cole, Jordy Mercer, Felipe Rivero and George Kontos. The team and players will exchange salary figures Jan. 12. If they still cannot reach a deal, arbitration hearings will be Jan. 29 to Feb. 6.

Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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