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Angels GM Perry Minasian’s fingerprints all over current success of Atlanta Braves

Angels general manager Perry Minasian speaks during his introductory news conference.
(Angels Baseball)

Perry Minasian won’t soon forget his first two months in Atlanta.

On his path from Texas Rangers clubhouse attendant to Angels general manager, one of Minasian’s biggest stepping stones came in September 2017, when he was hired away from the Toronto Blue Jays to become the Braves director of player personnel.

Three weeks later, everything changed.

An MLB investigation revealed the Braves had committed major infractions on the international signing market. Minasian’s new boss, then Braves general manager John Coppolella, abruptly resigned and was later banned for life by the league.

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For the next two months, Minasian was thrust into a key position in a suddenly restructured front office, involved in several coaching hires and other executive-level decisions until Coppolella’s successor, current GM Alex Anthopoulos, was hired that November.

“It was obviously an interesting situation,” Minasian recalled by phone this week. “Things changed pretty quickly.”

Four years later, Minasian has watched from afar as the Braves team he helped build has reached the World Series, where they are tied 1-1 with the Houston Astros after Wednesday night’s 7-2 loss.

Though he’s busy now trying to build his own contender in Anaheim, entering his first full offseason in charge of the Angels, he has reveled in his old club’s success this October too.

“There’s a sense of pride that comes with being a Brave,” said Minasian, who remains close with many of his former Braves colleagues, and whose brother, Calvin, heads the Braves’ clubhouse staff.

“They’ve won a lot. They may not have won a bunch of World Series, but it seems like the playoffs there are just second-hand to a certain extent. After winning a playoff series last year and getting to Game 7 of the NLCS, I’m not surprised they’ve gotten over the hump this year.”

Angels general manager Perry Minasian discussed the team’s priorities during the offseason.

The early weeks of Minasian’s tenure in Atlanta were hectic.

While president of baseball operations John Hart handled the GM duties, Minasian assisted in various tasks as well, including the hiring of first base coach Eric Young Sr., bench coach Walt Weiss and catching coach Sal Fasano -- all of whom are still on the Braves staff for this year’s World Series run.

“We feel like we’ve got one of the best staffs,” Young Sr. said, standing in the visitors dugout of Minute Maid Park this week. “And Perry had a big hand in that.”

Not long after Anthopoulos — whom Minasian had formerly worked for in Toronto — was hired as GM, Minasian was promoted to assistant general manager, where his day-to-day influence on the club continued to grow.

“He’s been a part of every single thing that we’ve done,” Anthopoulos said of Minasian when the Angels hired him last winter.

Young Sr. praised Minasian’s impact during last year’s pandemic-shortened season in particular. Traveling with the team throughout the season, Minasian served as a crucial link between the front office, coaching staff and players as the team advanced to its first NLCS since 2001, where they eventually lost to the Dodgers in seven games.

“He was that guy who kept it all together,” Young Sr. said. “When we got on a roll, he continued to be that person, that glue.”

Atlanta Braves' Freddie Freeman runs to first.
Atlanta Braves’ Freddie Freeman runs to first during the first inning of Game 1 of the World Series against the Houston Astros on Tuesday in Houston.
(David J. Phillip / Associated Press)

Minasian said his responsibilities in Atlanta wasn’t too dissimilar from his role in Toronto, where he worked his way up from a pro scout to special assistant to the GM. But his Braves tenure — in which the team won the NL East all three years — cemented valuable lessons about how to not only build, but maintain, a contender.

“Going to different spots, I think you learn there’s different ways to win,” he said.

With the Braves, perhaps the biggest key was pitching — the area most pertinent to Minasian’s current job with the Angels, too.

While Anthopoulos’ and Minasian’s Braves front office inherited premier position player talent in Freddie Freeman, Ronald Acuña Jr. and Ozzie Albies, they also quickly built up their depth on the mound.

In the rotation, they hit on several veteran additions such as Aníbal Sánchez (a key member of the 2018 team) and Dallas Keuchel (who was signed midway through the 2019 campaign), but also succeeded in developing young talent such as Max Fried, Mike Soroka and Ian Anderson.

“Where they were when we first got there to where they are now, it’s pretty eye-opening,” Minasian said. “It goes back to, there’s a certain level of talent that needs to be had, but these are all quality human beings, great makeup guys, that equal their talent. Those are the types of guys that reach their ceiling.”

To assemble a dependable bullpen, the Braves got creative, acquiring big names such as Mark Melancon (the closer on 2019 and 2020 teams) and Will Smith (the club’s current closer) while also uncovering hidden gems such as Tyler Matzek, the set-up man they plucked from independent league baseball.

“They come from all different shapes and sizes and places,” Minasian said. “Just turn over every rock, try to find as many good players as you can from all different avenues.”

Angels’ Shohei Ohtani was honored with the Commissioner’s Historic Achievement Award for his unprecedented two-way performance this season.

Minasian — who brought several other Braves executives with him to the Angels, including assistant GM Alex Tamin — gave Anthopoulos and everyone else still with the Braves all the credit for this year’s run, though, awed by the way his former boss was able to bolster the roster by trading for four outfielders following Acuña Jr.’s season-ending injury.

“The amount of moves he made to give his club the best chance to win, that’s not easy to do,” Minasian said. “Sometimes it’s hard to pull the trigger when you’re not necessarily playing well. So I give him all the credit in the world for making that decision.”

It’s the kind of position Minasian hopes to be in soon with the Angels.

But for right now, he’s enjoying the postseason run being put together by his former team.

“To see that organization in the World Series again is not surprising to me,” Minasian said. “I think anybody that’s been around that group — [manager] Brian Snitker and his staff, Alex and his current staff — it’s as talented as anybody in baseball.”


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