He had a hand in Dellin Betances becoming a Yankee out of Grand Street Campus High School in Brooklyn. He said Manny Ramirez, who played at George Washington High School in Washington Heights, was the best amateur player he ever saw. He touched countless other New York City baseball players, regardless of their talent level, and connected with their families. And his turkey giveaway in The Bronx at Thanksgiving time is legendary.
Now, Cesar Presbott is going to put away his scout’s tools after 45 years, 28 with the Yankees, but he said he hopes to stay connected to the game in other ways.
“That is the plan right now,’’ the 71-year-old Presbott told The Post. “I want another experience in baseball, the opportunity to talk to kids. I get call from parents, kids and coaches asking about the draft and school. I can help so many kids in different ways.’’
With colleges and high schools not playing due to the coronavirus pandemic, Presbott is away from baseball fields and may not scout another game. Thursday, that gave him the opportunity to deliver food to the needy in Manhattan.
Betances was easily the best prospect Presbott helped sign for the Yankees, who took the big right-hander in the eighth round of the 2006 draft and gave him $1 million to keep him from going to Vanderbilt.
While Betances was well-known in the scouting community, Johnny Rodriguez wasn’t.
Undrafted out of Manhattan’s Brandeis High School in 1997, Presbott saw the left-handed hitting outfielder play in a league at St. Mary’s Park in The Bronx. Not everybody was impressed with Rodriguez, but Presbott asked Mark Newman, then the head of the Yankees’ minor league operations, for $1,000 and a plane ticket to Tampa for the youngster.
“I know of no other case like that in my decades with the Yankees,’’ Newman said when asked how rare it was that a kid who signed for a grand played in the big leagues and earned a World Series ring with the 2006 Cardinals. “There is probably somebody someplace else but the inner city, it is hard. I can’t think of anybody.’’
Rodriguez spent a total of nine years in the Yankees’ system and split the 2005 season between teams in the Indians and Cardinals minor leagues. He reached the big leagues with the Cardinals in 2005 and hit .295 in 56 games. The following season, Rodriguez appeared in 102 games and batted .301. In 158 big-league games, Rodriguez hit .298.
Rodriguez has Presbott’s connections in The Bronx to thank for his career.