Mike Brito, Dodgers scout who discovered Fernando Valenzuela, dies

Longtime Dodgers scout Mike Brito has died, the team announced Thursday afternoon.

During almost 45 years with the Dodgers, Brito was an influential member of their scouting department.

He signed a teenage Fernando Valenzuela in 1979. He helped bring Yasiel Puig and Julio Urías to the club in recent years. And for decades, his Panama hat and mustached grin made him an immediately recognizable sight around Chavez Ravine.

He was 87 years old.

“My heart is very heavy today,” Valenzuela said in a statement released by the team. “Mike was a great man and instrumental in my success as a baseball player on and off the field. No one loved the Dodger organization more than Mike and we will all miss him very much. My prayers go out to his wife, Rosario, and all of his family and friends.”

A native of Cuba who played professionally in the minor leagues and Mexico during the 1950s and 1960s, Brito was hired by the Dodgers in 1978 after working as a Mexican League scout.

One of his first contributions: Convincing the Dodgers to sign Valenzuela, a future Cy Young Award winner and six-time All-Star who became one of the most important players in Dodgers history.

Over the next four decades, Brito helped sign more than 30 players who appeared in the majors.

He was credited with finding Puig, who spent six years with the Dodgers. He also discovered Urías by accident, after taking former Dodgers scouting director Logan White on a trip to see another player.

Brito was elected to the Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame in 2005. He was named MLB’s International Scout of the Year in 2014. Last year, he was awarded Baseball America’s Tony Gwynn Award for lifetime contributions to the game.

In addition to his wife, Brito is survived by his two daughters, Diana and Minerva, and four granddaughters.

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