In November, the Orioles hired co-hitting coaches, a pair of 31-year-olds in Matt Borgschulte and Ryan Fuller.
Borgschulte had spent the previous four seasons in the Twins organization, making his way to their Triple-A affiliate in St. Paul before landing in Baltimore. Fuller, on the other hand, was an internal promotion.
Fuller joined the O’s in 2019, brought on as the hitting coach for the Low-A Delmarva Shorebirds. From there, he was promoted to Bowie in 2021 before earning a trip to Baltimore this year.
Coming up through Baltimore’s farm system, Fuller understands the importance of keeping hitting philosophies consistent, no matter what level of the organization you may be at.
Ryan McKenna, recently promoted from Triple-A Norfolk, says that its been helping his development this season.
“They’re very intuitive with us as people, but also hitters,” McKenna said. “Communication from the top level down is so important, and I think that’s been more prevalent in the last couple of years than ever.”
“We want to be doing everything all the way up from the (Dominican Republic) all the way up to Baltimore in the same fashion,” added Fuller. “That’s hard contact, doing damage, and we’re preaching the same message, we’re using the same advanced material all the way up and down.”
Under Fuller and Borgschulte, the O’s have seen some of their younger players take strides at the plate.
“Both our hitting guys have done a fantastic job,” said Brandon Hyde. “I think they’ve done an amazing job of getting player buy-in, creating great relationships with our guys. The atmosphere is fantastic”
“We’re really proud of (the fact that) every guy has their own plan," added Fuller. "They know what they need to work at, and we have key metrics for every guy that we’re tracking."
Jorge Mateo is currently in the midst of a nine-game hitting streak. The speedster has also taken steps forward in his expected batting average, slugging percentage and overall offensive value, according to FanGraphs.
“He told us right away, ‘I like to be coached,' ” said Fuller. “He’s been great about development, looking at the season as a long term project … we’ve seen that this guy can make contact, and it’s loud contact at times as well.”
Austin Hays has also taken a big step forward at the plate and is currently on pace to set career highs in every offensive metric. Interestingly, the right-handed hitter has been mashing right-handed pitching this season. Hays is currently hitting .337 against righties through his first 30 games against them. Last year, that average against righties was all the way down at .221 with a .683 OPS. Fuller didn’t think that it was a specific focus.
“He’s becoming more of a mature hitter,” said Fuller. “He’s made small mechanical tweaks, but it’s really just been in his approach. He’s just a player coming into his own this year.”
On the recently injured Hays, Hyde says that the outfielder is doing “a lot better.”
“I’m hoping that he’s able to swing a bat either tomorrow or the next day,” Hyde added.
Hays says that he feels “really lucky” that the cleat didn’t do any further damage.
The skipper has also been really encouraged with what he’s seen from today’s starter, Tyler Wells.
“He’s been really efficient,” Hyde said. “No walks, attacking guys, getting early contact, keeping his pitch count low. He’s done a great job, really, these last three or four starts.”
Wells will try to help salvage the final game of a three-game set against the Tigers.