The Orioles remain in the process of building their minor league staffs, including the implementation of an extra coach with each affiliate. In the meantime, they’ve elevated minor league pitching coordinator Chris Holt to a position that more closely connects him to the major league team.
Holt has been promoted to a director-of-pitching position that extends his reach from the minor league side and more easily allows him to join Orioles pitching coach Doug Brocail in utilizing the technology and data that’s become available to the organization.
Information that the Orioles hope will flood the organization after starting out as a trickle.
Brocail is remaining in his current role for the 2020 season. Others invited back include major league field coordinator/catching instructor Tim Cossins, hitting coach Don Long, third base coach José Flores and major league coach José Hernandez.
Holt continues to oversee the development plans for every pitcher in the organization and his promotion can be viewed as a response to the heavy traffic between Triple-A and the majors. Thirty-eight Orioles pitched this season, including four position players.
The engine on the shuttle never had time to cool.
Akin, in particular, is viewed as a likely rotation addition at some point after spending this season with the Norfolk Tides. The Orioles will need to put him on the 40-man roster prior to the Rule 5 draft.
Holt came to the Orioles from the Astros organization in November, joining executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias and vice president and assistant general manager for analytics Sig Mejdal.
While interviewed outside the visiting clubhouse at Fenway Park during the season’s final weekend, Holt stressed how his involvement with the pitchers was confined to the minor league level and didn’t flow to the major league side.
“That’s not my place,” he explained. “I’m always available as a resource if the situation fits, but that’s not my place here. Doug Brocail and John Wasdin are pitching coaches here, and I have a nice working relationship with both of them, so we all discuss things. But in terms of the coaching, Doug Brocail and John Wasdin are the coaches at the big league level.”
Wasdin is gone and Holt’s influence is growing.
The Orioles don’t appear close to announcing replacements for Wasdin, first base coach Arnie Beyeler and assistant hitting coach Howie Clark. They’ve been engaged in the interview process.
Holt replaced Wasdin as minor league pitching coordinator last winter. Wasdin replaced Alan Mills, who switched from Orioles bullpen coach to a first-time manager with the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League.
The work done on the minor league staffs is more extensive, following a broader scale of dismissals and reassignments.
Former 17th-round draft pick Branden Becker, who retired as a player in May, is staying in the organization as an extra coach with one of the affiliates. Patrick Jones has been hired as a hitting coach.
They represent only two of the many changes that are forthcoming.
Jones played at Xavier University before transitioning to a role as hitting instructor. He’s one of multiple hires expected to come from outside professional baseball.
The Orioles announced yesterday that K-MOTION has become the organization’s “Player Development Partner and official 3D Motion Data Technology.”
It’s the latest step toward entering the data-driven era in baseball, as promised by Elias and Mejdal.
“Our partnership with K-MOTION allows us to quickly build a smarter, more efficient foundation for our player development programs,” Mejdal said in a statement. “From Single-A all the way to the majors, we expect K-MOTION Baseball to accelerate our goal of creating the sustainable, long-term success that will bring a World Series title back to the city of Baltimore.”
The team-issued press release included how K-MOTION’s precise and personalized 3D swing data allows the Orioles coaches to “objectively identify opportunities for improvement in players’ swings, train the exact solutions and track progress through a centralized cloud dashboard. Through the dashboard, coaches can now easily see relationships between different data points to uncover trends that will facilitate improved outcomes across the entire organization. K-MOTION will also assist the Orioles with processing 3D swing data to detect potential injuries before they occur.
“The industry leader in wearable, motion-training technology that makes athletes better faster, K-MOTION products create a complete learning solution: from diagnosis, to supervised instruction, to unsupervised practice. Through patented real-time audio and visual cues, athletes can connect perception to reality and master perfect motion in seconds. K-MOTION also creates a seamless connection between player and coach through its cloud-based improvement sequence of measure, assess, coach and train.”
The release also noted how more than 22 teams are using K-MOTION products, including the K-Vest, a motion-tracking system that provides swing data. The Orioles implemented it at the minor league level.
The K-Vest produces four graphs, two for the upper body and two for the lower portion, to go along with the kinematic sequence graph that’s advertised as allowing the batter to read the order in which the body parts move and how quickly they decelerate.
Perhaps it can speed up the goal of returning the Orioles to contender status.