Longtime baseball scout Doug Deutsch remembered for searching deeper for talent

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Doug Deutsch of Costa Mesa, a longtime professional baseball scout with the Houston Astros and Kansas City Royals, is being remembered for his astute ability to identify talent and strong belief that the character and work ethic of a prospect mattered.

Deutsch, 81, died last month from lung cancer, his son, Tim, said.

As one of the Southern California’s most recognizable scouts, Deutsch signed and drafted several Orange County standouts from the college and high school ranks in a nearly 26-year career that started in 1983.

“Doug was beloved,” said John Elliott, owner of Quakes Baseball Academy who was mentored in scouting by Deutsch. “He looked at character traits. He didn’t get caught up (solely) on the numbers.”

Deutsch achieved his most success with the Astros.

From 1998-2000, he drafted four players — Mike Gallo (Long Beach State), Morgan Ensberg (USC), Jason Lane (USC) and Mike Burns (Cal State L.A.) — who helped Houston reach the World Series in 2005.

“That’s unheard of,” said Burns, now an assistant coach at UC Riverside. “He just had a gift. He saw talent, and saw beyond the talent to see work ethic, heart and determination.”

Burns’ journey to the big leagues typified the impact Deutsch made with dozens of prospects. He selected Burns, who played shortstop on his scout team while at Diamond Bar High, in the 30th round after watching him blossom as a pitcher at Cal State L.A.

“Doug took a chance on me,” Burns said, “and I’m grateful for that.”

Tim Deutsch said his father developed much of his insight by visiting prospects in their homes, and getting to know their parents, background and character.

“He didn’t just scout the player as a player, he scouted the player as a person,” Tim said of Deutsch, whose father Jack was a Hall of Fame baseball coach at Cal State L.A. “It was a labor of love.”

Some other notable draft picks by Deutsch included late all-star pitcher Darryl Kile (Chaffey College), former Angels catcher Matt Treanor (Mater Dei), all-star catcher John Buck (Taylorsville, Utah), Brandon Barnes (Cypress College) and Mike Simms (Esperanza).

Several of Deutsch’s selections found their success after their professional playing days.

Dave Matranga (Pepperdine) works for PSI Sports Management, which represents Aaron Judge among others. Undrafted signee Matt Lucas (Cal State L.A.) became the successful high school coach at El Dorado. And former Cal State Fullerton pitcher Kirk Saarloos is now the coach at TCU, which played in the College World Series last month.

“He pulled a lot people forward,” Elliott said.

Deutsch is survived by children Tim, Michael, Kelly and Kari, 11 grandchildren and three great grandchildren. His wife Linda died in 2019.

A vigil for Deutsch is scheduled for July 24 at 7 p.m. at Saints Simon and Jude Catholic Church in Huntington Beach. The funeral service will be July 25 at 10:30 a.m. at the church.

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