Interview With The Agent: Jay Franklin
Jay Franklin is the President of B.B.I. Sports Group. Some of the clients signed to B.B.I. include Dylan Bundy, Ian Kinsler, Mitch Moreland, Conor Gillaspie, and Jeremy Hefner, amongst others. Franklin was previously employed with the Boras Corp before starting his own agency.
1) When did you realize that a career as a sports agent was right for you?
After my playing career I realized I wanted to stay in the game, but not really pitching coach, or scout. Scott Boras was representing my younger brother Ryan Franklin at the time and I spoke to Mike Fischlin regarding an opportunity to work with them. At that point I realized I could help the player the most through this avenue. So in 1998/1999 is when I decided to become an agent.
2) What is a routine day in the life of certified MLBPA agent, Jay Franklin?
Usually waking up in mornings during season checking out our clients seeing how they did in their games, checking in with office to see if any important things I should know to handle or address. During off season it usually is a little busier working on minor/major league free agents, rule 5 draft eligible players, and amateur recruiting. Every day throughout the year communicating with our staff of guys that we all work together on different levels of need. Speaking to scouts, asst. gm’s, or GM’s routinely on various players in the minor or major leagues. Always making sure the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed.
3) Being a former employee of Boras Corp, how much of an impact has that had in your success as an agent? What qualities did you bring over to your firm?
I think my experience there was paramount on a few reasons. First learned about the other side of the business, met some great people that to this day I have the utmost respect for because of their playing backgrounds and knowledge Mike Fischlin, Bobby Brower, Jim McNamara, Rick Gamma, & Calvin Murry. Those guys made it fun for me to be a part of what we were doing. 2-Learned a lot about the arbitration process, contract preparation, etc. We have same business model but different approach.
4) What type of relationship does BBI Sports Group have with their clients? Business, personal, or both?
BBI has MUCH more of a personal relationship with its clients, therefore the number of clients! We could have easily over a 100 players if we wanted, but when we did that we found there was too much of a large corporate feel and none of us like that. We like the fact we can all get together in the winter, go hunting, golfing, cookout and workout together. We want a family atmosphere that develops a relationship well after the playing career is over. This for us is about having life long friendships, not use each other for a short window of time and never speak again. I personally truly value the relationships we have with our clients and their families.
5) Obviously being a former professional player is a great path to becoming an agent. For the aspiring agents who are not fortunate enough to play professionally, do you recommend law school for a career as an agent?
Being a former player certainly helped me in several ways, but crippled my development in others which I have had the pleasure of being around some tremendous people over the years that help me grow as an agent. People like my business partner Phil Pulley, (the late) Michael Weiner, Rick Shapiro, have been instrumental in helping me evolve into a more complete person away from the players’ side, which was too harsh most of the time. For aspiring agents, I would take the path of law school, or even get degree in sports management, then work for a team understanding all aspects of the business — mostly the scouting due to a lot of players making it to the major leagues that are not high profile draft picks, and could earn them a lucrative living examples…Ryan Franklin 23rd round, Ian Kinsler 17th round, etc.
6) What is the MLB Amateur pre-draft process like for BBI Sports Group clients? How big of an impact do you as the agent have in where the client gets drafted?
The draft process is relatively a simple process. It clearly states in the NCAA rules a Student-Athlete cannot obtain an agent for any purpose, otherwise he forfeits his eligibility as a student-athlete. Therefore we merely represent the parents of the student-athlete. A parent or guardian can obtain an advisor for informational purposes. The whole draft process is not good; the new system has made it worse due to lesser players getting over drafted because of the slotted system. We just have to deal with the cards we are dealt. We spend a ton of money and time trying to identify the best players we can find and think that will play in the major leagues; we don’t get wrapped up in following publications or rankings. We have a great staff: Jack Giese, Brad Foree, Lennie Foree, Cliff Ryan, Scott Lancaster, David Brogdon, Valarie Martin, Dr. Jeff Angel, Landon Russell, Mitch Simmons, Don DeDonatis, William Saunders, Howard Kinsler, Bob Egr, & DJ Wabick that spend time seeing players and ranking them internally to make decisions to meet the parents of these players. I think the reputation of the agent does have an impact of a player being pushed up the draft board. Most Scouting Directors will tell you there are agents they can trust and agents that they cannot.
7) Does BBI Sports Group run an internship program? If so, please describe it.
BBI does not run an internship.
8) What does BBI Sports Group look for when hiring a new employee?
BBI is probably the closest bunch of people as anyone in the agent business! We are like a band of brothers, that love each other and our families and when it comes to hiring new people we bring in their families and let them meet our families, spend time with them so that they are comfortable with us as we are them. We look at each qualification the person has, and go from there. This business has taught me several lessons about people, and we have learned the hard way in some of our previous hiring, but that only made us stronger. My dad always taught me what don’t kill you makes you stronger! My business partner (Phil Pulley) is one of the best business minds I have ever been around; his insight and ability to read people has been a huge plus to our overall success. He allows me to focus on the baseball side and he focuses on the other side, and I am very thankful 8 years ago he wanted to be a part of what I was doing and we love our group of guys. We have a lot of fun working in this industry.
9) What advice would you give to aspiring agents?
I would tell them to learn the game, get around credable people from both sides of the ball! I think of people like MLB Scouting Bureau Jim Walton who has played the game, managed the game, and scouted, who was very instrumental to me after my playing career in helping me identify players, along with Jay Robertson with the Washington Nationals. Then, as I said, guys like Michael Weiner & Rich Shapiro I will be forever grateful to in helping me understand the other side of the business. Those guys treated me like a normal person and spoke to me in a professional manner to help us build what we have here at BBI.