9:09 am: The Yankees are also set to interview Arkansas pitching coach Matt Hobbs today, reports Kendall Rogers of D1Baseball (via Twitter). Hobbs was Johnson’s replacement in Fayetteville. Like Fetter, he’s a young, technologically-savvy coach from a major college program. Rogers adds that he expects the Yankees to continue looking into candidates from the amateur ranks.
7:58 am: The Yankees have interviewed University of Michigan pitching coach Chris Fetter in their search to fill the same position, reports Jeff Passan of ESPN (via Twitter). Fetter has drawn “significant interest” from other MLB clubs, including the crosstown Mets, Passan adds, although it’s unclear if he has formally interviewed with any other organization.
After the Yankees fired veteran pitching coach Larry Rothschild Monday, speculation arose that the organization could target a younger voice to modernize their approach to game preparation. Fetter, 33, would certainly fit the bill. He was a ninth-round draft choice out of Michigan in 2009 and has been on staff in Ann Arbor for the last two seasons.
Between his minor-league playing career and return to his alma mater in a coaching capacity, Fetter took on a variety of roles in both the pro and amateur ranks. After hanging up the spikes, he spent some time coaching in the Padres’ organization. Thereafter, he worked as a scout for the Angels for two years before spending one year coaching pitchers at Ball State University. Between Ball State and Michigan, Fetter spent one year as the Dodgers’ minor league pitching coordinator, so he’s not devoid of experience working with pro arms.
Fetter’s involvement in the Yankees’ search, regardless of whether or not he gets the position, highlights the blurring of lines leaguewide between the amateur and professional ranks. Most notably, the Twins hired Wes Johnson as pitching coach from the University of Arkansas last offseason (with great success, if the team’s performance is any indication). While Johnson remains the person to make the leap directly from college to MLB pitching coach, numerous others have moved from the college ranks to take on various roles within MLB organizations in recent years.
Fetter’s pitching staff helped the Wolverines advance to the College World Series finals in 2019. Left-hander Tommy Henry and right-hander Karl Kauffmann were second-round selections of the Diamondbacks and Rockies, respectively, in June’s amateur draft. Right-hander Jeff Criswell, meanwhile, was an all-Big Ten performer as a sophomore and may join Henry and Kauffmann as a relatively high pick in 2020.