One issue: Abbott didn’t want Goetz to start his own agency. Abbott wanted to hire Goetz eventually.
“He came in two days before we were gonna open and the next morning, the investors backed out,” Goetz said. “I think he gave the doom and gloom of owning your own business as a sports agent and how long it took to see a profit.”
Yes, this actually happened. “It’s a true story,” said Goetz, who now works with Abbott at Wasserman, a well-known sports agency. One moment, Goetz and Abbott would team up at a sports agency. The next, they were not.
Goetz – who joined Abbott at Jet Sports in 2007 before Wasserman acquired the company last year – came to call this the “Great Sabotage.” And because it happened, he had no job at the time. He had already told Roy Clark, the Braves’ director of scouting at the time, that he was starting a sports agency and, thus, leaving his scouting job. Heck, Goetz already had turned in his car at Turner Field.
All for nothing.
He begged for his job back. Fortunately, Clark gave it to him. At the time, Goetz told Abbott: “Look, man, a year from now, I am coming to work for you.” And that’s what happened: In 2007, Abbott hired Goetz. The two have worked together ever since. Now, Goetz represents many players, including the Braves’ Matt Olson, Minnesota’s Byron Buxton and Philadelphia’s Zack Wheeler.
The Braves ties don’t end there: In 2018, Jet Sports hired Tyler Pastornicky, the former Braves infielder. He played parts of three major-league seasons (from 2012-14), all with the Braves. He’s since tried to use his experiences to help his clients.
At Wasserman, Pastornicky is a riser in the industry. “It was something I was always curious in,” he said about becoming a sports agent. He enjoyed being around the game. His father, Cliff, played in the majors, coached in the minors and became a longtime scout. Tyler always knew he wanted to stay in the game after he finished his own playing career. It was just about finding the correct avenue.
Pastornicky knew Abbott from his Braves days. Abbott represented Chipper Jones, McCann and others, so he was around often. Immediately after his playing career ended, Pastornicky began scouting.
Eventually, when Jet Sports wanted to expand, Abbott asked Pastornicky if he might be interested in trying to become a sports agent.
“It sounded perfect,” Pastornicky said. “I got to kind of pass along all the journey that I went through, from signing out of high school and taking that jump early, and I kind of get to play the cool older-brother role and help kids go through this. I’ve gotten to work with a great group of guys. It’s been awesome.”
Pastornicky represents the Angels’ Nolan Schanuel, who was drafted this July and debuted just over a month later. Some of Pastornicky’s other clients were top draft picks this year: Wyatt Langford (No. 4 overall pick, Texas), Aidan Miller (No. 27 overall pick, Philadelphia) and Colin Houck, the Parkview High alum who went No. 32 overall to the Mets.
“I think just like any player when his career is over, it’s really tough,” Goetz said of Pastornicky. “I think initially when he started with us, he was still having some regret and things like that, so he didn’t get off to a real quick start. And then all of the sudden, about a year in, he kicked it in. I knew that he had the ability to be a superstar in this business. I think it was just, for him, settling in and saying, ‘OK, this is gonna be my career.’ That’s when he took off.”
Pastornicky isn’t too far removed from his playing career – at least not far enough for him to have lost touch with today’s athletes. He feels his relatability has helped him connect with his clients. He can pass on any lessons learned.
“I think that I got to experience a ton of what you go through in the game, of being a young prospect and getting to the big leagues at 21, and having some ups and downs, having some injuries, and going through quite a bit in my young career,” Pastornicky said. “You learn from it. You learn some tricks of the trade and some things to kind of keep you mentally strong when going through those times – when things are going great, then when things aren’t going the way that you want them to go.”
Still, Pastornicky had to adapt to how quickly the game moves. When he first became an agent, the eye-opening thing was how early the recruiting process begins. Agents can advise high schoolers.
“Hey, we gotta get on these kids when they’re sophomores and juniors,” Abbott told Pastornicky when he started.
“Man, these kids are barely learning to drive themselves to school and try to get a girlfriend, and I’m trying to be his advisor,” Pastornicky thought to himself.
Pastornicky and Goetz make a team when representing clients together. Pastornicky is younger and, in some ways, more relatable. But Goetz has seen everything players go through. Plus, his experience as a scout allows Wasserman to gain valuable insight come draft time because Goetz has personal relationships with many of the game’s top scouting executives.
For example, Pastornicky can get in a batting cage and hit with a kid. He can work on that player’s swing. Goetz, on the other hand, can help the kid by evaluating this: ‘OK, this is what scouts are gonna like about what they saw today, and this is what they’re gonna think that you need to improve or do more of.’
They work together to mold players into the best versions of themselves before the draft.
“I’ve seen or been involved in almost anything that can happen to a young player, at this point,” Goetz said. “Obviously made some mistakes along the way, so making sure you don’t repeat those, and making sure that you do the same things that worked for you early on. With Tyler, Tyler’s not too far removed from still playing. He and I team up with players now, and I’m kind of the old veteran that’s got some knowledge, and he’s the young guy that can talk to the young 14- and 15-year-olds about what’s coming up.”
Together, Goetz and Pastornicky provide a different dynamic for those they represent. They’re able to do this because of the time they spent with the Braves and what it taught them.
“There are a lot of companies that do a good job with contracts and such,” Goetz said. “But I think the extra that we offer is the baseball knowledge and having both been on both sides of it.”