April 29th, 2012

Coach and scout James Vilade pulls double duty

     Coaching and scouting both come with a unique set of challenges. This season James Villade is tackling both as a Texas Rangers scout and helping Jason Hart with Frisco RoughRiders batting skills. Vilade said it’s an interesting combination and both aspects have different objectives that work towards one common goal.

     “With scouting, you’re trying to identify talent that can come into an organization and have a huge impact on the organization,” he said. “As far as coaching goes, player development is key and being able to develop players and get them to the next level.”

     Vilade was a college baseball coach for 12 years, starting baseball programs at the University of Dallas and the University of Texas at Tyler. When he retired from coaching in 2010, Vilade left as the second winningest NCAA baseball coach in Texas and the eighteenth winningest coach in NCAA history. He credits his players and fellow coaching staff members for achieving that level of success.

     “I’ve always had a great coaching staff and I’ve always had tremendous players and that’s what it comes down to,” he said. “What’s special about it is the people that I got to be around and the lives I got to touch along the way.”

     Vilade said the key is building a trusting relationship between the players and their coaches.

     “I think success of the coaching and player development side is that number one: you need to have a plan. You have to know what your goals and know what you’re working towards,” he said. “You have to develop a routine that’s meaningful for the players that they believe in, that they know is going to enhance them and their abilities. Then there’s dependability. You have to be a very, very dependable source for the players because there are a lot of ups and downs as a player and to have people to go through the ups and downs knowing you have some consistency, that speaks volumes to players.”

     In 2007, Vilade joined Frisco as the hitting instructor. 

     “The first player I ever worked with as a professional coach was Elvis (Andrus). When I reported, Scott Coolbaugh had contacted me and said you’re going to be doing some extra work with one of our players that’s coming off the disabled list,” Vilade said. “Elvis had been injured so I helped him with his workouts and we built a great relationship and a great trust. His year here in 2008 was unbelievable. In 2009, he was in the big leagues so there’s a lot to be said for his work ethic and drive.”

     Vilade coached alongside Head Coach Dave Anderson and Scott Coolbaugh during his time in Frisco. He credits the two for mentoring him and helping him develop into a better coach.

     “For my first time coaching professional baseball, I had some great examples and some great mentors,” he said. “The time I spent working under Dave Anderson as a manager in 2007 was amazing. It really was to work with a guy who has that much care for his staff and that much passion for the game. He might ever know it but the impact he had on me was phenomenal. Scott Coolbaugh was very professional. He teaches you how to reach the players individually as well as collectively. That’s a talent. When you can reach everyone on a team level, on a group level, and you can also reach guys individually, that’s a true talent.”

     Vilade said his background as a coach helped him make baseball connections which have aided him in scouting.

     “My college experience brings a lot of connections to high school and junior college coaches. It’s one of those things when you scout. You have to be efficient. You have to be out and about. You have to make connections so college has helped me make a lot of connections in the game of baseball,” he said.

     It was those connections that led the now Miami Marlins to offer Vilade a job as a North Texas scout in 2010.

     “That’s what got me into scouting and I think the Marlins saw my value of being a college coach for a long time. When you’re an NCAA coach, you’re connected to high schools. You’re connected to junior colleges and you’re connected to NCAA clubs,” Vilade said.  “It’s an advantage for me going into the professional scouting side of it to get me connected to the North Texas area because I’ve spent my whole, with the exception of one year, coaching career within 100 miles of Dallas or in Dallas so I’ve been functioning in this area for a long time.”

     Family played a major factor in his decision to take the scouting job in 2010 and he viewed the opportunity as a chance to get closer to family.

     “For me, scouting was a way to get back to Dallas which is where my wife’s family is and it was a way for us to connect the kids with their grandparents and with family and have a broader support system,” Vilade said.

     Vilade worked as a scout for the Marlins in 2010 and 2011 before joining the Texas Rangers organization in 2012. He is one of three amateur scouts covering the North Texas area. He said there is never a boring day and that decision-making is the most important part of his job.

     “When you scout, you’re continually building a database of players. You’re crosschecking players. You’re trying to figure out who do you want to invest a lot of time in and who’s maybe a guy you follow up with later on down the road,” Vilade said. “A lot of my time is spent communicating with Jay Ennings who runs the North Texas area.”

     Although scouts look for skills on the field, Vilade said there’s more thought behind evaluating a player.

     “As far as scouting goes, we’re going to grade out on five skills: run, throw, field, hit, and hit for power. Then there’s the character, the make-up part of it. That’s the toughest part to evaluate as a scout. It’s finding out the player’s character, finding out his work ethic, finding out who he is, what he stands for, and is he going to be somebody that represent the organization at a high leve,” Vilade said. “I mean holding up a radar gun and saying yeah this guy’s got a good fastball, sometimes that becomes obvious but does he project out over the long haul and what kind of person is he?”

     Vilade said he is excited to coach in Frisco and is looking forward to this season.

     “I’m thankful for the opportunity. To be back in Frisco and be a Frisco resident is really special. It’s fun not only to represent the Texas Rangers but also the city of Frisco.”

Story Written by: Jarah Wright and Michael Damman

Photo credit: Frisco RoughRiders

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