The Reds have named Bryan Conger their new minor league pitching coordinator, per Bobby Nightengale of the Enquirer (via Twitter). Conger himself announced his hiring on Twitter. Conger spent the last two seasons coaching in the Rangers’ organization. The former head coach at Tarleton State, Conger has a history of data-driven innovation that fits the Reds’ ethos. J.J. Cooper of Baseball America wrote this about Conger when the Rangers initially hired him in January of 2019: “Individualization has been a key part of Conger’s approach. Each pitcher at Tarleton State had an individualized throwing program designed specifically for that pitcher. Conger viewed it as his job to use data as much as possible to help customize everything they did for each pitcher.” As the minor league pitching coordinator, Conger will have a broader scope at his fingertips than back in his Division II days, but the Reds no doubt value his personal approach.
- Conger joines the Driveline/Reds family that also includes 25-year-old assistant pitching coach Eric Jagers. The former University of Iowa southpaw found his way to Driveline as an amateur pitcher struggling to stay healthy. Thoracic Outlet Syndrome further stymied his pitching career, importuning Jagers to commit early to a career in coaching, writes Bobby Nightengale of The Enquirer. Writes Nightengale, “The result was a meteoric rise through the sport. In three years, Jagers went from an injured college pitcher to the Cincinnati Reds’ Assistant Pitching Coach. At 25 years old, he’s one of the youngest coaches on any Major League staff.” Jagers takes over for Caleb Cotham – just 33-years-old himself – who was named the Phillies’ pitching coach this offseason.
- In Baltimore, Chris Holt attempted to clarify his role for the upcoming season during a recent Zoom call, notes Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com (via Twitter). Holt has been the Orioles’ Director of Pitching, but he will slide into the dugout this year as manager Brandon Hyde’s pitching coach. He’s keeping his original title, however, which presumably puts an awful lot on Holt’s plate. Holt has been preparing for this role switch for years, with the organization hoping that Holt could form a cohesive organizational philosophy that he himself would usher to the big leagues as some of their developing hurlers made it to the Show. That’s presumably where they are now, with a number of young pitchers like Dean Kremer, Keegan Akin, Bruce Zimmermann, Hunter Harvey, Michael Baumann, Zac Lowther, and Alexander Wells already on the 40-man roster. Top prospects Grayson Rodriguez and DL Hall are both approaching the bigs as well, though both are likely to start 2021 in Double-A.
Tons of talent in O’s organization right now, including some really nice pitchers arriving in the next year or two. Still, I don’t see how Holt can wear all these hats at once. It’s a very big ask.
Driveline has probably had the biggest impact of anything in baseball over the past 5 years or so. By just watching the game, you wouldn’t notice, but it has revolutionized the way pitching has evolved to this day. And some of that props you also have to give to… Trevor Bauer.
Don’t they hire former major leaguers anymore?
These guys are self promoters. Pitch tunneling and usage are the main areas where these guys can help. Bauer is a Freak of Nature which is why he was the 3rd overall pick behind Cole and Hutzen. Knowing your Velo, Spin Rate and Shape of your pitches and how they rotate on three axis is all read by a $4,000 machine. Take a High speed camera and focus it on the release and Wow, you can see the ball leave the last print of your fingers. And don’t forget the $100,000 mounds with pressure plates. Use all that Data and equipment and see if you can get a guy to throw quality innings at Yankee Stadium in October. When these Drive-Line type guys start making Non-Prospects into Prospects on a regular basis, then I’ll be a believer. All just a bunch of talk to sell a New Way of doing things.