From being a high school baseball player for Xenia High to be becoming a full-time scout in Major League Baseball, Phil Gulley’s life has revolved around baseball. Gulley’s dedication to studying baseball has led to him winning the Scout of the Year award for the Chicago White Sox.
Gulley signed three of the team’s top 16 draft picks this past year.
“Phil has been a cornerstone of our amateur scouting department for many years, and his ability to identify premium talent makes him worthy of this award,” White Sox director of player development Nick Hostetler said in a statement from the team.
Gulley has always had an interest in baseball. He attributes a lot of that to his high school coach Phil Anderson. Gulley said Anderson was his inspiration to pursue baseball as a sport. Gulley was going to play for Sinclair Community College, but he had a knee injury and could not play.
“Playing didn’t work out, but I stayed in the game,” Gulley said. “I umpired for a while and then got into scouting.”
Gulley said he first thought about becoming a scout by talking with one of his brother’s best friends, Lloyd Gearhart. In 1969 Gearhart came to Xenia and talked about being a scout for the New York Mets. Gulley said they spent some time together and Gearhart had a big influence on his desire to scout.
“He passed around his World Series ring and I just thought that would be a cool job,” Gulley said. “He is why I wanted to become a scout.”
Gulley began scouting in 1992 as an unpaid “bird dog” associate scout with the Milwaukee Brewers. He worked his way through multiple MLB teams including the Atlanta Braves and Cleveland Indians.
He has been with the White Sox since 2002.
“I worked my way up from the bottom to the top through my time as a scout,” Gulley said.
Gulley now scouts for the White Sox in the areas of Southern Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia. Gulley said he spends a lot of his time covering the “big four” universities in his area: Vanderbilt; Louisville; Kentucky; and Tennessee.
Gulley has had success in identifying talent in these areas, signing multiple players over the years. He has provided the White Sox with key insight on the players in his region and given the team recommendations on which players would be good to draft and sign out of these schools and others in the region he covers. Gulley said it’s definitely a dream job.
“I was always a baseball guy,” he said.
While Gulley loves his job, he does say that there are some things that take hard work and effort. He said a scout has to be willing to drive, stay up all night and work constantly around the clock. There is even work to do in the off season scouting for the next year.
“It’s not just the glorified job that everyone thinks it is,” Gulley said. “We work seven days a week.”
As a scout, Gulley is able to work with his supervisors to come to terms on an acceptable amount of money for a contract, and then he is able to go and negotiate contracts directly with the player and his agent. All three of the players Gulley signed this year for the White Sox were from the University of Louisville.
“It’s probably unusual for one scout to get three guys from one team,” Gulley said. “But they’ve got a good program, and I’m familiar with them.”
This is the second time he has won this award, after previously winning it in 2011.
“I’m proud of it,” Gulley said. “It’s something my grand kids can look up to, and I’d like my old coach (Anderson) to know I’ve amounted to something. It’s an accomplishment for me.”
Joshua Woolverton is an intern for Greene County News.