The Twins announced Friday morning that they’ve hired former big league catcher Hank Conger as their new first base coach and catching coach. This will be Conger’s first Major League coaching assignment, but it’s not his first professional coaching job. He’s spent the past two seasons as the catching coach with the Lotte Giants of the Korea Baseball Organization.
Conger, 34 in January, will make for another young addition to an increasingly youthful Twins coaching staff. Rocco Baldelli is entering his fourth season as the team’s skipper despite only turning 40 near the end of the season. The Twins also hired 41-year-old Jayce Tingler, formerly the Padres’ skipper, as their new bench coach this offseason. Newly hired David Popkins, meanwhile, turned 32 last month. He’ll serve as a co-hitting coach alongside Rudy Hernandez, who’s been on the Twins’ staff since 2015.
Conger was the No. 25 overall pick by the Angels in the 2006 draft and ranked as one of the sport’s top catching prospects prior to his MLB debut in 2010. He spent parts of the next seven seasons playing in the Majors with the Halos, Astros and Rays, batting a combined .221/.294/.360 in 1134 plate appearances. Conger graded as one of the top framing catchers in the game during his seven-year run in the Majors and was generally considered a strong receiver.
Former first base coach Tommy Watkins will move across the diamond and serve as the team’s new third base coach following Conger’s hiring, per the team. Former third base coach Tony Diaz, meanwhile, will move to the role of assistant bench coach and infield coach.
The Twins also announced that Double-A pitching coach Luis Ramirez is being promoted to the Major League staff, where he’ll serve as an assistant pitching coach, working alongside pitching coach Wes Johnson and bullpen coach Pete Maki. The 48-year-old Ramirez has been in the Twins organization for 16 seasons, serving as a minor league pitching coach and pitching coordinator.