Hiring All The Kids: NY's Coaching Youth Wave

jon abbey

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When NY hired 31 year old Sam Briend of Driveline to be their new 'director of pitching' last July, it was clear something was happening but it was not clear exactly what. Six months later, it is much more clear.

July 2019: Briend (31) hired, maybe a job that didn't exist before?
November 2019: Matt Blake (33) hired as new pitching coach, replacing Larry Rothschild (65)
November 2019: Tanner Swanson (36) hired as new catching and quality control coach, replacing Jason Brown (45)
January 2020: Eric Cressey (38) hired as head trainer (with a fancier title), replacing Steve Donohue (62)

They are also bringing in younger guys lower down in the system, but I believe these are the big four so far, all seem like real coups from what I have read about them since. Blake has already earned his check for a while by helping sell Cole on NY as a place with serious pitching analysis.
 

jon abbey

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How much is Mike King loving this offseason so far? Now reunited with both Blake and Cressey...

“ One player that new #Yankees pitching coach Matt Blake is already familiar with: RHP Mike King, who had previously worked out with Blake at Cressey Sports Performance in Massachusetts.”
 

VORP Speed

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This is really smart and a great use of resources by the Yankees. It’s a page out of the playbook of large, financially strong “strategics” in innovation-driven industries—let the market sort out the best new ideas and talent and then, once you’ve identified some signal out of all the noise, throw your weight around to acquire the crème de la crème of the innovators. There has been an explosion of private coaching/tutoring/training in all sports. There’s a lot of garbage out there but clearly some people/trends have emerged as producing good results and the Yankees jumped on it.

I’ve actually thought for awhile that one of the areas most ripe for creative destruction in baseball is how the minor leagues and pre-MLB player development in general are handled. This step by the Yankees of moving towards new school methods should only help hasten the arrival of a more scientifically sound player development system.
 

jon abbey

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The official coaching staff and the training staff hierarchy under Cressey, for reference:



 

jon abbey

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From Buster Olney’s column this AM:

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Giancarlo Stanton continues to look like he's back to the performance level in 2017, when he was the National League MVP in his last season with the Marlins. Stanton played well in the summer intrasquad and exhibition games, and in the Yankees' first six games, he has eight hits in 19 at-bats, with two homers, four walks and four strikeouts.

The Yankees' staff believes he has been helped significantly by his work with performance coach Eric Cressey, who was hired last offseason to oversee the team's training and strength and conditioning departments. In a phone conversation the other day, Cressey remembered the first conversation he had with Stanton about a new direction with the slugger's training. "We are going to make you do things that are uncomfortable," Cressey said to Stanton, "but are going to help you."

Baseball is a unique sport, Cressey said, in that it is loaded with repetition -- the swings of a hitter, throwing a baseball -- but is also "insanely unpredictable," because of the physical adaptations required in fielding, in running the bases, in adjusting to the movement of opposing fielders.

"He was very open-minded," Cressey recalled. "He's someone who can put on muscle mass quickly ... [but] it's not just how strong you are, but how you use that force? Can you be powerful and not just strong? Can you do it through a significant range of motion?"

At the outset of the Yankees' camp in spring training, Stanton looked suited for a powerlifting competition, but he appears to have dropped about 15 to 20 pounds through the revamped training he has done with Tim Lentych and other Yankees staffers and is now down to about the same weight he played at in Miami.

"He is starting to appreciate that what you did at age 20 doesn't necessarily work at 30, or 35," Cressey said. "He's a very, very quick learner and a very good communicator -- he's not afraid to tell you something that's not a good fit for him."
 

jon abbey

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Bump for newly promoted NY main hitting coach Dillon Lawson, who it seems will be the Matt Blake equivalent for the hitters. I can't find his birthday anywhere but he graduated undergrad in 2007, so probably around 36, give or take.

I'm not in much of a mood to talk baseball with everything on hold but it does seem like this wave of young coaches NY has been rolling in over the last two years have been pretty successful, hopefully Lawson will be too. He is the one credited with a bunch of the NY minor league hitting breakouts last year, Park and Amburgey and Cabrera, maybe Peraza some too. It is funny to me that 'hit strikes hard' somehow counts as a hitting philosophy but whatever works.

https://www.pinstripedprospects.com/inside-yankee-hitting-coach-dillon-lawsons-hitting-philosophy-61567/

Cashman said tonight that they expect to announce the final coaching hires soon, they still need a 1B coach and I think 1-2 others.
 

streeter88

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I didn’t really follow him this year, but Gammons article up thread mentioned Giancarlo Stanton. Looked like the new philosophy worked in 2021, maybe not so much this past year? Any updates on how it went for the rest of the team? Dumb question I know because NYY made it to ALCS and we didn’t, but… any insights?
 

jon abbey

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I didn’t really follow him this year, but Gammons article up thread mentioned Giancarlo Stanton. Looked like the new philosophy worked in 2021, maybe not so much this past year? Any updates on how it went for the rest of the team? Dumb question I know because NYY made it to ALCS and we didn’t, but… any insights?
Behind the scenes with a baseball organization is never so transparent, but it worked to the extent that they developed so much on-the-verge internal pitching that they dealt something like nine pitchers away at the deadline, and in doing so managed to hold onto all of their very promising position player prospects while still making the upgrades they needed to. They traded for Montas, Benintendi, Effross, Trivino (part of the Montas deal) and used all pitching prospects to do so, then they even moved Montgomery for Bader. They are currently very thin in the high minors with pitchers (understandably after trading nine of them) and I think the plan here is that they believe so much in the pitching development team that they think that the next wave will quickly fill the void, but that will be a big question for NY this winter and next season.

Also their premium position player prospects, the group which NY is banking on for the near future, all developed really well after slow starts (it was super odd how they all had a slow first month and then went nuts, I have not seen anyone ask NY player development personnel about this but would love to hear a response).

And it's hard to separate talent from coaching in terms of results, but NY going from the 29th best (second worst) defensive team by DRS in 2021 to the best (by a huge amount) in 2022 has to have had something to do with coaching.

https://fieldingbible.com/TeamDefensiveRunsSaved
 

jon abbey

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Bumping this for the first time in 16 months...

This has been a huge success for NY on the pitching side, since they hired Blake and Briend, they have been cranking out AAA and MLB pitchers incredibly quickly, trading many of them but keeping some. On the hitting side, Lawson didn't work out so that is still in flux, with a new, more experienced hitting coach in James Rowson (47) brought in (back, actually) this winter.

But I'm bumping it because I just saw something crazy: NY hired the youngest MLB coach in history this winter, Chase Gerbrick. He is only 20 years old!!! His job is Minor League Defensive and Base Running Coach, pretty wild.

https://iwuwildcats.com/news/2024/1/24/baseball-gerbrick-joins-yankees-organization-as-minor-league-defensive-coach.aspx