Heck ‘disappointed’ contract not renewed

Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow made a significant change to his baseball operations staff Saturday by naming Mike Elias as scouting director to replace Bobby Heck, whose contract won’t be renewed.

Elias, who joined the Astros in January as a special assistant to the general manager/scouting, will oversee amateur scouting and the First-Year Player Draft. Heck, whose contract expires this fall, has been with the Astros for nearly five years.

“Bobby has been a key part of the front office for the past five years and has been instrumental in helping build the pipeline for the future,” Luhnow said in a statement. “His legacy here includes several high-ceiling players like [Delino] DeShields, [George] Springer, [Mike] Foltynewicz, and [Vincent] Velasquez – all top prospects in our system.”

Heck joined the Astros after the 2007 season and oversaw the Astros’ last five Drafts, during which Houston drafted catcher Jason Castro, pitcher Jordan Lyles, up-and-coming prospects DeShields Jr. and Springer, as well as No. 1 overall pick Carlos Correa this year.

“I’m disappointed,” Heck said. “Obviously, I’ve invested the last five years of my life into it and arguably the hardest five years of my baseball life trying to get this back on track, and time will show that we put a major dent in that, not only myself but the staff we were able to put together here.

“I also know that in change of ownership, change of front office, change of leadership, it’s always a business as well. I’m very appreciative of the opportunity I was given here with the Astros and I’m just disappointed I’m going to have to watch the success we have added to the pipeline from afar.”

Heck took over a Minor League system that was in poor shape after some subpar Drafts, but he helped get it back to respectability during his tenure.

“I think looking back at the five years, you could say ‘mission accomplished,’” Heck said. “There are some things we would do differently, but the production from the five Drafts has started to show itself in Houston and also in the Minor Leagues, and a lot of those players will play here a long time and make this a contending club once again.”

Elias, 29, had been in the Cardinals organization since 2007 where he served as a scout before being promoted to manager of amateur scouting. Over the past several seasons, Elias has scouted domestically and internationally at both the amateur and professional levels.

“Mike has a keen eye for talent and a unique ability to blend scouting opinions with other valuable information like the players’ makeup, performance history or medical risk,” Luhnow said. “I’ve worked with Mike for many years now and believe his leadership and evaluation skills will help us maximize the output of our drafts for years to come.”

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