The 2020 Major League Baseball season is over but things are just getting started in Detroit now that A.J. Hinch has taken over the managerial duties for the Tigers. Since he signed on the dotted line with the Olde English D, the good news has been rolling in for the franchise as the future begins to look brighter for the struggling organization.
Not only does Hinch’s resumé inspire confidence in both the media and fans, his ability to draw top-level talent to his coaching staff is also a characteristic that strongly stands out. Here is a look at some of the recent hires that has everyone excited about the next phase of the “rebuild”.
Meet the new Tigers coaching staff
This past week the Tigers introduced three new members to its bench in support of the team’s skipper, which included at least one familiar name. Former Los Angeles Dodgers first base coach George Lombard, who was interviewed for the Tigers’ opening, is the next bench coach, while former Chicago White Sox assistant hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh gets a promotion to hitting coach, and former Washington Nationals bench and third base coach Chip Hale takes over as third base coach.
The Detroit Tigers today announced three additions to the Major League coaching staff:— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) November 7, 2020
◾️ George Lombard as Bench Coach
◾️ Scott Coolbaugh as Hitting Coach
◾️ Chip Hale as Third Base Coach pic.twitter.com/usCYOpzymQ
Tigers general manager Al Avila had the following to say about the hirings.
“We are thrilled to add these experienced baseball men who bring a diverse range of expertise to our major league staff. Each of them has worked with high-level talent in their careers and have a track record of cultivating winning players.”
Hinch also had some encouraging words to add.
“Adding coaches with high levels of experience both in developing teams and leading in the postseason, is important as we establish a culture of winning baseball here in Detroit. I’m confident these three additions will complement what’s already a strong coaching staff. We are excited to being working with the players soon.”
Detroit had earlier added Chris Fetter — who served previously as the Michigan Wolverines’ pitching coach for the last three seasons — as its newest pitching coach last Friday. The 34-year-old former multisport athlete has been a hot topic among the Tigers faithful. The Detroit Free Press did a great job breaking down why he was the perfect hire in this article.
The Detroit Tigers today announced Chris Fetter has been named the club’s Major League Pitching Coach.— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) November 6, 2020
Fetter joins us from the University of Michigan, where he was established as one of college baseball’s top pitching coaches and talent developers. #DetroitRoots pic.twitter.com/afOKZfXnOw
International scouting in the time of COVID
It is not a secret that the Tigers organization has been in a midst of a tear-down and something that resembles a rebuild, and every route of talent acquisition is important at this stage. Often neglected by the franchise in the past, Detroit has taken a renewed interest in the international free agent market in recent years, though this past year posed some problems few could have foreseen.
The Detroit Free Press took a look at the challenges of scouting in the age of the coronavirus, especially at the global level, with Evan Petzold speaking with director of international operations Tom Moore about the process. The main difficulty has been establishing the relationships that allow the hidden gems to be discovered.
“It’s getting to know the player, how they interact with their teammates and, the times that we can, find out where they’re from, get to know the parents, families and support systems. That’s a huge part of it.”
Meanwhile, Cody Stavenhagen over at The Athletic surveyed how the Tigers were adapting to an ever-changing world of international scouting. Also speaking with Moore, he noted the difficulties in navigating a once-a-century pandemic event along with some of the opportunities it also provides.
“That, obviously, was an unfortunate time that I don’t think any of us have ever been through and (there were) certain challenges that we faced. But I do think we took great advantage of trying to improve as a department. That was a unique time where we could really look back and reflect at what we do well, what we could improve on.”
It will be some time before the fruits of the scouting department’s labors will bear from this year, but at very least, every club in MLB is very likely on level playing field in wake of COVID-19, so it could be the Tigers’ chance to find an edge.
Matt Manning champing at the bit
Speaking of the future of the Detroit Tigers, with the end of the instructional league, Matt Manning is now off for the winter — a winter he will be spending near the cozy confines of Tiger Town. Having recently bought a house on the north side of town, the highly-touted pitching prospect appears to be digging in for the long haul with the organization.
Not that he has put all of his marbles in the Lakeland bag — he still keeps his California connection open as well.
“I go home (to California) for the holidays, but I do most of my stuff here.”
Staying close to the team’s player development headquarters will give him a leg-up on his offseason training. After watching fellow prospects Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal reach the majors this summer, he has to be anxious to get his first taste of the big show as well.
“I’m excited. I think it’s going to come a lot sooner than we think. Before we know it, it’ll be here and we’ll get after it.”
Hopefully, the potent right-hander has an uneventful offseason and comes into spring ready to compete for a starting rotation spot with the big league team.
‘Thank You’ to all who served in the United States Armed Forces
Around the horn
Kyle Lewis, Devin Williams make history as first Black players to sweep ROY awards in 35 years. Tony La Russa’s managerial comeback got a lot more uncomfortable with DUI arrest. Ex-Giants outfielder Mac Williamson sues club over concussion that ‘ended my career’. It’s all in the cards: Analytics vs. Humanity. There’s a replica scorecard of the 26-23 game on display at Wrigley: Here’s how it was created. Minnesota Twins’ Eddie Rosario and the Hardees problem. From Vlad Guerrero to Vlad Jr., international scouting has evolved. A sober look at the State of the Minor Leagues.