Blue Jays Revitalize Minor League Coaching Staff
Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins cited the ongoing innovation across baseball as an influence in the selection of the club’s new major league staff, and it was again a factor in the organization’s recent minor league appointments.
While experienced baseball men such as Bobby Meacham at Triple-A Buffalo, Mike Mordecai at Double-A New Hampshire, Cesar Martin at high Class A Dunedin and Dallas MacPherson at low Class A Lansing remain in the system and will manage teams in 2019, analytically-adept newcomers such as short-season Vancouver pitching coach Demetre Kokoris bring a different dimension to the farm system.
“The current landscape of player development and helping players get better is really to be curious about every type of resource," farm director Gil Kim said, "and that’s (a combination of) experience, knowledge, past playing ability and that’s also experience with data and technology, experience with integrating mental performance into development.
“So it’s really about trying to maximize the skill set and diversity of our entire development department.”
Kokoris joins the Blue Jays from the college coaching ranks, most recently as pitching coach at Point Loma Nazarene in San Diego, along with Lansing hitting coach Logan Bone (assistant coach at Lindenwood in St. Charles, Mo.) and Rookie-level assistant coach Cory Popham (pitching coach at Post in Waterbury, Conn.).
Jake McGuiggan, a Harvard graduate who played two years of independent ball before joining Dunedin as a video coach last year, remains with the club in a new analyst coach position, a first in the system.
His role will be “to try to help leverage all the information and data and technology that are resources for us,” Kim said. “This is a new role, so we wanted to try it out at one affiliate this year, and we felt that high A level was maybe the best level for now with where we are as a group on this.”
Casey Candaele will manage at Vancouver while also beginning work at another new position: the system’s coordinator of practice design/skill development.
“He brings the humility and knowledge,” Kim said, “but he also has the experience and open-mindedness to think about the two main areas, which are designing and structuring the development day and then how best to help our players acquire the technical and tactical skills.”
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— Hunter Mense, the hitting coach at New Hampshire last year who worked closely with Vladimir Guerrero Jr., is the club’s new hitting coordinator.
— Doug Mathis joins the Blue Jays as pitching coach at Buffalo after two seasons at low Class A Clinton in the Mariners system.