Alumni: Gators’ Weitzel Helped Start Trend Of Scouts Turned College Coaches

Buddy Reed drew a low number. His turn to hit at an Orlando Scorpions showcase would come last.

Reed, a Maryland native, was fairly new to high school baseball and the showcase circuit, thanks to a multi-sport background that included his own star turns playing soccer and hockey. He was told to shag fly balls and help gather balls back into a bucket behind second base while others took their batting practice and he waited his turn.

“Two things stood out,” Florida assistant coach Brad Weitzel remembered. “First, his body. He just had a great body—long legs, high waist, broad shoulders. Second, I watched him. He worked his tail off that day. He didn’t do anything halfway. He got after it. He had energy.

“He hit fine, but I was pretty sold already by the time he hit.”

The rest is Gators history. Reed says he didn’t hit well that day, but he still signed with Florida, became a regular as a freshman thanks to his defense, helped lead the team back to the College World Series in 2015 and is a first-team Preseason All-American as a junior.

He’s on the cover of this week’s magazine and could become yet another big leaguer on Weitzel’s ledger. Now in his ninth season as a Gators assistant, Weitzel and fellow assistant Craig Bell were working as area scouts when Kevin O’Sullivan was named the program’s head coach and hired the pair to join his staff. Weitzel had been scouting the state for the Twins since 1991, and he’s not shy talking about his track record.

It’s all right there on his Florida bio page. The page doesn’t have his preference lists, but it does list all the big leaguers he signed and coached during a five-year stint when he also helped coach the Twins’ instructional league.

Weitzel’s signature signee is A.J. Pierzynski, a 1994 third-round pick who should reach 2,000 hits and games played in 2016 in a truly significant career that has included two all-star selections and a World Series championship in 2005 with the White Sox. Weitzel also signed 2002 first-rounder Denard Span and Doug Mientkiewicz, who had a 12-year career and now manages in the Twins system. His bio also includes 36 players who have reached the majors that he coached either at Florida, as amateurs at other stops (such as American Legion ball) or with the Twins.