Rangers hire Hillman as farm director

By Evan Grant
December 1, 2001

DALLAS–Nearly seven months after Reid Nichols left the job to return to the field, the Rangers finally have a new farm director.

Trey Hillman, a Texas native who played college ball at Texas-Arlington, will take over the redefined job duties. Nichols, who moved from his office to become the club’s first base coach and outfield instructor, will not be back in any role with the Rangers.

Hillman, 38, has spent the last 11 seasons managing in the Yankees organization. He was at Triple-A Columbus for the last three seasons, earning International League Manager of the Year honors in 2000. He was also Baseball America’s Class A Manager of the Year in 1996.

“He’s done everything in the system,” said Rangers assistant general manager Grady Fuson, hired earlier in November. “He’s managed, he’s coached and he has two years of scouting background. He’s a guy who’s comfortable working on the field with kids or speaking to a classroom of 150 people. He is the kind of guy that I can grow with and the organization can grow with, too.”

Said Hillman: “I want to be able to build a farm system that not only supplies the major league team with major league caliber players, but also with championship caliber players.”

Hillman will have a slightly different role than Nichols, despite having the same job title. Nichols was more of an administrator in the role. Hillman will have a more active role in on-field instruction. With the addition of Fuson as assistant GM in charge of scouting and player development, the Rangers have created another layer of management that didn’t exist in the past. They hope it will allow instructors to do what they do best–teach young talent in an effort to grow the organization.

Hillman will have plenty on his plate from the start, however. He and Fuson must decide on a new staff at Triple-A Oklahoma. Demarlo Hale, who managed the last two seasons at Oklahoma, has joined the major league staff as first-base coach and outfield instructor. Pitching coach Lee Tunnell has informed the club he will not return in that role, though he would consider a roving pitching instructor’s job.

Tim Hallgren, who completed his first year as scouting director, will not return in that role. Hallgren will remain in the organization as a national crosschecker, the job he held before taking over as scouting director after Chuck McMichael resigned. Fuson, the former Athletics scouting director, basically took over Hallgren’s scouting director duties as assistant GM.