It’s all tied up in the eighth inning of an instructional league game at Salt River Fields. A few dozen people are watching from a small seating area behind home plate, and nearly all of them are fellow minor leaguers or scouts. And on this day, all of the players and scouts are men.
It’s a scene that plays out in professional baseball almost as often as the seventh-inning stretch. Currently, there are just two female scouts: Amanda Hopkins of the Seattle Mariners and Robin Wallace in the Major League Baseball Scouting Bureau.
Astrid DeGruchy used to be one of those rare female scouts. Last year, the woman with the Ted Williams tattoo was hired by the San Diego Padres to be a part-time scout of high school and college players.
“My number one passion is just baseball; evaluating talent, and kind of looking at what to look for in certain prospects. Especially the amateur guys, where you’re grading really on projectability,” she said.
DeGruchy, 25, decided to stop scouting and pursue an even bigger dream: she wants to become the first female general manager in a major sport.
“I am trying to break barriers. I am trying to make history,” she said.
And for help doing that, she’s turning to Arizona State University. DeGruchy is a student in the new Sports Law and Business Program, which added former MLB commissioner Bud Selig to the teaching staff this year.
“We’re trying to be the first to really train a lot of future female leaders — and males — but we understand there’s a glass ceiling for females in sports,” said the program’s assistant director, Sam Renaut.
Across Major League Baseball, women hold 28.9 percent of the front-office jobs, according to an April report by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport. But in ASU’s masters-level program of about 50 students, roughly half are women, Renaut said.
Renaut, an agent for NFL players when he’s not teaching, said the one-year program is designed to help students land jobs in a range of sports-related positions, including in front offices, collegiate athletic departments, or as salary cap negotiators. He said the program teaches a problem-solving approach that is based on four R’s: “regulatory, revenue, reputation, and relationships.”
“You’ve got to be able to read people. You’ve got to be able to push an idea and be persuasive. You’ve got to be really good at research. You’ve got to be good at negotiating. You have to understand contracts,” Renaut said.
And perhaps most of all, Renaut said, women who want to shake up the sports business need to have a never-give-up mentality — the same kind of mentality scouts look for in minor leaguers.