The Orioles affiliates from the Rookie-level team through the Triple-A International League squad will each have five coaches, counting the manager, during the 2020 season. Each club last year had a manager, pitching coach, hitting coach and one field/development coach.
New Orioles director of player development Matt Blood, hired by the organization Sept. 16, said that will change next season.
As previously reported on MASNsports.com by my colleague Roch Kubatko, the six men expected to manage on the farm next year are Gary Kendall, Buck Britton, Kyle Moore, Dave Anderson, Kevin Bradshaw and Alan Mills. At which specific affiliates they’ll serve is yet to be determined, as there have been no announcements yet. Blood has not yet confirmed any managing names or assignments for next year, but spoke in general terms about the group.
“It will be great to have a group of managers that have experience in the game and are good baseball people,” he said. “They know the organization. We will have new hires, but some holdover experience as well. I really like the mix of our staff.”
Blood, 33, has been on the job with the Orioles since Sept. 16. Last November the Texas Rangers hired him as the club’s director of player development. He moved to the role of director of baseball innovation in August. For three years before joining Texas he was the director of USA Baseball’s 18-and-under national team. For seven seasons he was an area scout with the St. Louis Cardinals, working with current Orioles executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias and assistant GM Sig Mejdal. Before he joined the Cardinals, Blood spent a brief time as a prospects writer for Baseball America. He is a 2007 graduate of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Blood said each affiliate - including Triple-A Norfolk, Double-A Bowie, Single-A Frederick, Single-A Delmarva, short-season Single-A Aberdeen and the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League O’s - will have a manager plus four additional coaches.
“We have it set up this way,” Blood said in an interview yesterday. “We’ll have a manager, a pitching coach, a hitting coach, what we are calling a fundamentals coach, which will assist the manager in the daily instruction of defense, baserunning, all things development. Not necessarily the hitting or the pitching. And we’ll have a development coach, the fifth coach, a newly added position. In the past it was more of an internship, but now it’s a full-time coaching job.
“This is a new thing where it’s a hybrid of baseball skills along with technology and analytic skills. So, this person will be kind of that link between our database and analysts and our coaching staff. He’ll be able to run the technology we are using at the affiliates, whether it be hitting or pitching or development technologies. And really be a resource for the staff to better implement and use technology. Those are the five full-time coaches along with your athletic trainer and strength coach.”
Blood said each club will also include an intern who will help with technology and run video systems during games. There will also be a person to run the TrackMan (ball-tracking data) system.
“We have a significant amount of hires to make,” said Blood. “Especially in the hitting-coach department and in our newly created development-coach role. We’ve spent a significant amount of time researching, talking to people and interviewing. We’ve made some offers and are trying to fill out our staffs.
“We are getting close to having most of the staff signed. We are still going through some things and have a couple of spots we are trying to get final commitments on. We are pretty close.”
My guess is that there are probably not many organizations that have five full-time coaches at each spot from the Rookie-level leagues on up.
“I think it is probably a new thing,” Blood said. “Some clubs maybe have a role that is similar, but not full-time. The five full-time coaches is probably not that common.”
That shows a pretty solid commitment by the Orioles to help their minor league players.
“It’s a great message to our coaching staff and to our players,” Blood said. “Our job is to put our coaches in the best position possible to be successful. Using data and technology is imperative in this game. To do that right you need to have the resources and the support to do it. This will really help our coaches be as good as they can be.”
He added that the development coach is not just a data cruncher or helper for each team.
“All of the development coaches are baseball guys too,” Blood said. “They’ll hit fungoes and throw BP and are not people that don’t have a feel for the game. That is a very unique skill set right now. But we’ve moved on this fairly quickly and we’ve gotten some exciting guys that are both analytically and technology inclined but have a good feel around the sport.”
By the way, Blood took time to answer a lot of my questions during our Thursday interview. And you will be reading more on that here next week.
A few reminders: The get-together with yours truly where we will convene and talk some baseball is tonight! A few of our readers here will meet up tonight at 7:30 at Looney’s Pub in Bel Air. Come by if you can. If you don’t live around Baltimore, we understand you can’t make it. I don’t think we will exactly be packing the place, but feel free to make our small gathering a bit bigger. Some great people will welcome you.
Tomorrow, I will be part of an Orioles fan forum at the Babe Ruth Museum from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Come by and talk some baseball then, too. The program is free with admission to the museum, which is $10/adults, $8/seniors, $5/kids. You can get more info at 410-727-1539 X3033 (speak to Katie), or . baberuthmuseum.org