Meet Hall of Fame Inductee AJ Preller

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Meet AJ Preller

In our second of 9 bios of this year’s South Huntington Hall of Fame inductees, we are pleased to introduce AJ Preller, Walt Whitman Class of 1995. You may remember AJ from his Whitman days, between 1991 and 1995. Always an active student, AJ took advantage of all that high school had to offer. He played three varsity sports, participated in student government, and was a National Honor Society member. AJ received numerous recognitions while at Whitman, including Mr. Whitman 1995, Principal’s List, National Honor Society, Italian Honor Society, Scholar Athlete award, and a Gold Key award. He was also a class officer for all four years of high school, was captain of the baseball team, and played on the basketball and soccer teams.

So what has AJ been up to for the past 17 years?

AJ received his BS (summa cum laude) from Cornell University in 1999. AJ has been passionate about baseball and aspired to a career in the sport from the time he was a young boy, when he was a devoted New York Yankees fan. AJ worked diligently to make inroads into baseball. He persuaded his college advisors to allow him to craft an internship with a major league baseball team for college credit; all he had to do was persuade a team to create such an opportunity. He wrote to every major- and minor-league baseball team in the country in search of a position. He ultimately secured a semester-long internship with the Philadelphia Phillies for which he earned 12 college credits, thus beginning his career in the field of baseball. Upon graduation, AJ took an unpaid position with the Arizona Fall League, where he worked under Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, who was later hired as vice president of on-field operations for Major League Baseball (MLB). The MLB offices are in New York City, and Robinson brought AJ with him. For 3 years AJ learned all he could from a legendary ball player who became a mentor and friend. AJ believes this experience provided an exceptional foundation for his future career. He later left MLB for a position in baseball operations with the Los Angeles Dodgers. AJ was then hired by the Texas Rangers to serve as the Director of International and Professional Scouting. He was promoted to his current role of Senior Director of Player Personnel after the 2009 season.

As the Texas Rangers’ Senior Director of Player Personnel, AJ is in charge of player acquisition for the Rangers. He oversees the team’s scouting operations around the world and manages approximately 50 amateur, professional, and international scouts. AJ has been integral to the success of the two-time American League champions. Baseball Prospectus wrote that the Rangers’ success has been fueled in large part by the players that Preller has his fingerprints on.  AJ has been described by those who work with him as the best in the business at what he does. His accomplishments are the result of his determination, work ethic, and drive. He travels continually around the globe, accumulating millions of frequent-flyer miles and rarely sleeping in his Texas apartment, to ensure that he sees as many players as he can. He is fluent in Spanish, as he realized early on that if he was going to be successful as a scout in Latin America, he needed to speak the language.

AJ has made a true contribution to the field of baseball during his career. Some of his accolades with the Texas Rangers include creating the Dominican Baseball Academy and an international scouting operation that many other major-league franchises are now attempting to emulate; building depth within the minor-league talent pool and a scouting and development system that is becoming the blueprint for the industry; finding and playing a major role in the acquisition of top talent such as Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz, Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli, Alexi Ogando, Cliff Lee, and Yu Darvish; and aiding with the development of the team’s young players both on and off the field. AJ is extremely humbled that his efforts, and those of his scouts, have helped the Texas Rangers achieve back-to-back World Series appearances. He hopes that a World Series championship is in their future.

Awards and Acknowledgements

Cornell University: Graduated Summa Cum Laude, Cornell Tradition Fellow (all 4 years of college), Golden Key National Honor Society, Dean’s list (all 4 years), Junior Varsity Basketball team. Professional awards: The Texas Rangers, a team that never won a playoff series, has won the last two American League Championships. ESPN.COM recently named the Texas Rangers the number one organization in the game of baseball; Baseball America ranked the Texas Rangers farm system number one 2 times in the last 4 years. Sports Illustrated, Baseball Prospectus, and Baseball America have all named AJ one of the top future general manager candidates. There have been numerous articles written about AJ, and he has been interviewed several times on the radio.

And his personal life...

AJ resides in Dallas, Texas. He enjoys playing baseball and basketball and spending time with his nephews, Riley, Colby, and Casey. AJ has high aspirations for their future baseball careers.

His time at Whitman...

AJ writes: “I look back on my time at Walt Whitman with extreme fondness. Participating in athletics during high school provided a training ground to practice and cultivate my leadership abilities. I learned to play with integrity and to be a life-long student and a team player. I learned the importance of creating a culture that people wanted to be a part of, which is extremely integral to the work I do now. Moreover, the extracurricular activities I took advantage of at Whitman allowed me to interact and collaborate with all types of students, which is key to success later in life. Plus I had fun and forged friendships that have lasted a lifetime.

Please join us

AJ, along with his eight other distinguished Walt Whitman alumni colleagues, will be our honored guests at this year’s Hall of Fame festivities, which will be taking place during Walt Whitman’s homecoming weekend on Saturday, October 20. We invite the community to stop by and say hello to AJ and all the other highly regarded alumni.