As the baseball season has just started again we will be talking in this Wee Chat to Neal Huntington, General Manager of the Major League baseball team, the Pittsburgh Pirates. Neal has been in this position since 2007 and has helped the organization became a force to be reckoned with in Major League Baseball (MLB). He gives us insight on the mental side of being a leader and the importance of balance in its many forms. Teams in the MLB are starting to realize the importance of the mental side of the game and Neal embodies resilience through his work as the GM and describes how he rides the waves. We also learn a little more about his family and his philosophy on being a good leader.
Neal Huntington was named Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates on September 25, 2007, thus becoming the 12th G.M. in the history of the club. In this role, he is responsible for the entire baseball operations department which includes overseeing the Major League club and scouting and player development systems.
Huntington and his staff have systematically restructured how the Pirates evaluate, acquire, develop and retain players and staff members with the goal of building the Pirates into a championship caliber organization. Neal has overseen the rebuilding and reconfiguration of the Pirates front office, scouting and coaching staffs as well as the retooling of the Pirates 40 man roster and minor league system. Additionally, the Pirates have allocated significant resources into the First Year Player Draft (most in MLB since 2008) and toward International amateur talent acquisition which has resulted in the Pirates farm system moving from being one of the worst in MLB to among the top third in baseball.
Prior to joining the Pirates, Neal worked as a Special Assistant to the General Manager for the 2007 American League Central Division champion Cleveland Indians. In his role as Special Assistant to the General Manager, Huntington served as an evaluator and advisor for Cleveland General Manager Mark Shapiro, providing recommendations regarding personnel, strategic planning and decision making. Neal also scouted major and minor league players and provided recommendations with respect to player evaluation, acquisition and retention. He also provided scouting evaluations on players within the Indians organization while doing advance scouting work for a portion of the Indians’ opponents.
Huntington began his association with the Indians in 1998 as the Assistant Director of Minor League operations. In November of 1998, Neal took over as Cleveland’s Director of Player Development. In that role he instilled a holistic developmental philosophy that focused on the systematic development of the person as well as the player. He also oversaw the Indians player development system, including Latin American Field Operations. After being promoted to the title of Assistant General Manager on November 1, 2001, Huntington assisted Shapiro in all areas of the day-to-day operation of the major league club, concentrating particularly in player evaluation, acquisition and retention.
Neal began his major league career in the Montreal Expos organization on June 1, 1992. He spent the 1994 campaign as the video advance scout for the Expos major league club and was then promoted to Assistant Director, Player Development after the 1994 season, where he assisted in all aspects of Montreal’s Player Development system.