Yankees Groom High-Character Players As Future Coaches, Scouts

Image credit: Yankees farm director Kevin Reese received two cups of coffee with the Yankees

When a look at the Yankees’ organization tree, a theme quickly emerges. From the highest rungs of front office to the coach’s box on the backfields, many of the people working to develop the team’s major leaguers once walked that path themselves.

Their farm director, Kevin Reese, played in the system for five seasons and got 12 games in the majors with the Yankees. Their pro scouting director, Dan Giese, spent parts of three years in the majors that included pitching in 20 games for the Yankees in 2008. Pro scout Matt Daley pitched two seasons in New York, and most notably, was the man who relieved Mariano Rivera in his final appearance.

Four members of the big league coaching staff—hitting coaches Marcus Thames and P.J. Pilittere, infield coach Carlos Mendoza and bullpen catcher Radley Haddad—all played in the Yankees system. That’s to say nothing of new manager Aaron Boone, whose place in Yankees lore would have been secure if he’d stayed in the ESPN broadcast booth.

Nearly every one of the organization’s nine minor league teams—the only exception is short-season Staten Island—has a manager, hitting coach or pitching coach with playing experience in the Yankees’ system.

This isn’t by design, but it’s not a coincidence either. The Yankees don’t necessarily look to their farmhands first when filling a coaching staff, but they instruct their current staff to keep their eyes peeled for players who might fit the bill one day.

“That’s why you start (players transitioning to coaches) at the lower levels and you get some feedback,” general manager Brian Cashman said, “but all of our coaching and manager personnel are trained to identify and take note of anybody who’s currently an active player who they think might be someone who could transition (to coaching) eventually.

“They might be a non-prospect or an org player, but because of various characteristics they identify—whether it’s passion, work ethic, character, thirst of knowledge, open-mindedness—we’re going to identify those guys as . . . (potentially) impacting us in another capacity once their playing career is over.”

Reese, who rose through the organization as a scout and pro scouting director before being named farm director this offseason, also likes the familiarity one gets from a player who becomes a coach or scout. That’s because he gets to know that player’s character throughout the course of his development.

“I think you just get a better comfort level when you’re around people,” Reese said. “So I think that (familiarity) just kind of led to that happening more often than not. It’s not by any means a prerequisite for working here. I think if we have good people working here, we try to keep them around.” 

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