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Suspected Astros sign-stealer identified as unofficial team employee who appears to be close with owner Jim Crane

Alex Reimer
October 17, 2018 - 11:18 am

It appears that one of Astros owner Jim Crane’s errand boys is the culprit who was spotted trying to take pictures near the Red Sox’ dugout in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series. Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan reports Kyle McLaughlin, who’s not listed as an official Astros employee, was also photographed aiming a cell phone camera into the Indians’ dugout during Game 3 of the American League Divisional Series in an apparent attempt to steal signs or information. The picture was shared with Passan.

McLaughlin’s Instagram account, which is now deleted, featured a picture of him posing next to Crane in 2016 with an Astros ID badge around his neck. In another photo, McLaughlin is posing next to an airplane with Astros logos. His biography on Instagram also named the “Houston Astros.”

At this time, McLaughlin’s duties with the organization are unknown. The Indians tipped off the Red Sox about his surreptitious behavior prior to the ALCS, according to Passan. MLB was aware of Cleveland’s concern as well. McLaughlin was reportedly removed by security in Cleveland and Boston.

Metro Boston's Danny Picard was the first to report about incident at Fenway Park Saturday. 

It doesn’t seem like these were isolated incidents with the Astros, either. Passan says the A’s suspected the Astros were stealing signs during a late-August game, as Houston hitters were seen clapping in the dugout before pitches. The Dodgers also reportedly believe the Astros were swiping signs during last year’s World Series. 

Separately, two anonymous Major League players told Passan they noticed Astros players hitting a trash can in recent years, believing that was one of their ways to relay signals to hitters in the box. 

Since the Red Sox seem nonchalant about the ordeal, it’s unlikely McLaughlin’s name will rise to villainous status. But it’s apparent the Astros have their own covert operator. If McLaughlin goes, maybe he’ll at least get to keep his official team ID.