The decision by the Orioles to make two hires for the position of hitting coach, splitting them between someone outside the organization and a young instructor in their minor league system, had been anticipated for weeks. As well as the arrangement, growing in popularity in the industry, to abandon the assistant role and go with co-hitting coaches.
I wrote about it here. What I didn’t know is exactly how it would work.
How would Ryan Fuller, formerly the hitting coach at Double-A Bowie and the Orioles’ full-season hitting coordinator, meld with Matt Borgschulte, most recently the hitting coach with the Triple-A St. Paul Saints in the Twins organization?
Would they be assigned different players, perhaps splitting the 26-man roster in half? Maybe it’s a little more complex than this simplified version.
The Orioles can’t necessarily call upon experience to divvy up duties. Borgschulte has been a professional hitting coach longer than Fuller, hired by the Orioles before the 2020 season from Power in Training in Connecticut, but he’s also venturing into his first job at the major league level.
Borgschulte never played as a professional, though he was a Division II All-American at Drury University in Springfield, Mo. - the first in the program’s history. Fuller appeared in 32 games with the Rookie-league team in the Diamondbacks system in 2012 after two seasons at the University of Connecticut.
Fuller’s fingerprints decorate the new progressive hitting philosophy, the aggressive attacks on pitches in an individual’s “hot zone.” The discipline to recognize the differences.
As a volunteer coach at Drury, Borgschulte introduced the use of in-depth video analysis for hitting that produced immediate results, including an increase in batting average, runs scored and total bases. He also was involved in the implementation of a strength and conditioning program and worked with the outfielders.
You can see how he’ll be on the same page with Fuller.
What’s the team’s vision for them as partners?
It’s my understanding that this is going to be a collaboration, the best way to describe it, with no strict division of players - at least to start out. Like other teams, the Orioles are having their coaches split the duties because the job has become so complex.
One of them will be in the dugout during games - there’s a limit to the number of uniformed personnel - and it’s likely to be Fuller. The other coach will be in the batting cage.
This collaboration could expand to members of the traveling party offering their own contributions, such as analysts and roving instructors. A setup never before seen in Baltimore.
Of course, titles keep appearing that still have the tags on them. Darren Holmes as assistant pitching coach rather than bullpen coach, which really makes sense now that he’s expected in the dugout during games. Fredi González as major league coach. Tim Cossins as major league field coordinator/catching instructor.
José Hernández, the former major league coach and assistant hitting coach, must change his business card again as he transforms into a do-everything, jack-of-all-trades role.
This vision for the staff has been a work in progress since Mike Elias arrived as executive vice president/general manager and Brandon Hyde as manager. It just had to play out.
It had to be constructed in the same way, piece by piece, as the analytics and international scouting departments.