Orioles hiring Drew French as pitching coach (Bautista wins AL reliever award)

The Orioles are finalizing the structure of their 2024 coaching staff as they approach the Winter Meetings. Business that doesn’t influence their active roster.

According to an industry source, the Orioles are prepared to hire Drew French as their pitching coach.

French, 39, spent the past three seasons as the Braves’ bullpen coach. He’ll take over for Chris Holt, who maintains his duties as director of pitching.

Holt and executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias are familiar with French from his five seasons as pitching coach in the Astros’ organization from 2016-20. French was one of two pitching coaches at the alternate training site in 2020 before joining Houston toward the end of the regular season and playoffs to work with the club’s taxi squad.

French began his tenure in the Astros’ system as pitching coach at short-season Tri-City. He served in the same role with the 2017 Midwest League champion Quad Cities River Bandits and 2018 Carolina League champion Buies Creed Astros.

The climb continued in 2019 with French’s promotion to Triple-A Round Rock, where Express pitchers set a franchise record with 1,265 strikeouts and posted 12 shutouts, second-most in the Pacific Coast League.

French began his coaching career at his alma mater, Concordia University, in 2007 and spent four seasons at the University of Alabama – two as a volunteer assistant and two as director of baseball operations.

A report in The Athletic stated that the Orioles held interest in Andrew Bailey as their new pitching coach before his hiring by the Red Sox.

The club might not confirm French’s hiring until announcing their entire staff.

Assistant pitching coach Darren Holmes won’t return to the Orioles next season, which leaves one opening on the staff if they intend to replace him.

Holmes had completed his third season in the role after serving as bullpen coach in 2020.

Holt was hired in 2019 as minor league pitching coordinator, following Elias and vice president and assistant general manager Sig Mejdal from the Astros organization, where he was assistant pitching coordinator. The Orioles promoted Holt to pitching coach in 2021 as Doug Brocail’s replacement.

The rest of the coaching staff is expected to return next year, though the exact structure hasn’t been confirmed. The unit stayed intact following the 2022 season, with the only change being Cody Asche’s addition as offensive strategy coach. Asche had just completed his first season as upper-level hitting coordinator in the minors.

Anthony Villa was put in charge of overseeing the entire system as minor league hitting coordinator after working at the lower levels.

Tim Cossins remained as major league field coordinator/catching instructor this year, with Fredi González serving as bench coach, Ryan Fuller and Matt Borgschulte as co-hitting coaches, Anthony Sanders as first base coach/outfield instructor, Tony Mansolino as third base coach/infield instructor, José Hernández as major league coach, and Ryan Klimek as pitching strategy coach.

The Braves have three vacancies on their staff with third base coach Ron Washington named Angels’ manager and first base coach Eric Young Sr. following him.

Note: Oriioles closer Félix Bautista won the Mariano Rivera Award as the American League's best reliever. He's the first Orioles winner since Zack Britton in 2016.

Bautista went 8-2 with a 1.48 ERA, 33 saves, 0.918 WHIP and 110 strikeouts in 61 innings before his elbow injury Aug. 25.

Cleveland’s Emmanuel Clase and Toronto’s Jordan Romano were runners-up. Bautista was a unanimous selection by the six-man panel.

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