Twins Add To Coaching Staff
Image courtesy of Seth Stohs, Twins Daily (photo of Tommy Watkins)New Twins manager Rocco Baldelli has talked since he was hired that he felt that hiring his coaching staff would be his first big decision. On Friday, they announced most of his staff.
Previously, they had announced that hitting coach James Rowson and assistant hitting coach Rudy Hernandez would return to their roles. When Derek Shelton finished runner-up to Chris Woodward for the Rangers job, it was clear that he would return as the bench coach.
On Thursday, Dan Hayes from The Athletic broke the news that the Twins were hiring long-time college pitching coach (most recently at the University of Arkansas), Wes Johnson for that role with the Twins, his first job in professional baseball.
Later Thursday afternoon, Derek Wetmore broke the news that Jeremy Hefner would be added to the coaching staff as well. He had been an advanced scout for the Twins in 2018. Friday the Twins announced that he will be the assistant pitching coach.
On Friday, the Twins announced that Tony Diaz will be their third base coach. He has spent the last 20 years managing and coaching in the Colorado Rockies organization. Most recently, he was the first base coach in the big leagues.The Dominican Republic native authored a book called Practical English for Latin Players.
Tommy Watkins will be their first base coach. Watkins was the Twins 38th round pick in the 1998 draft out of high school in Ft. Myers. He slowly worked his way up the organizational ladder, and in 2007, he played nine games in the big leagues. In fact, he was hitting .357 (through nine games) and had become the starting third baseman. Unfortunately, he was injured and missed the rest of the year. He spent another year in the organization before retiring as a player and becoming a coach. He was the hitting coach in Beloit and then also when the Twins moved their Midwest League affiliate to Cedar Rapids. He moved up to Chattanooga for a year as their hitting coach, but then became the manager back in Cedar Rapids. In 2018, he was the Lookouts manager, and on Saturday, he will lead the Salt River Rafters into the Arizona Fall League championship game. Watkins has worked very closely with the core of young Twins players through their minor league careers.
Watkins said that he was "stunned" when he found out the news yesterday and is excited for the opportunity. In an interview with Ft. Myers News Press writer David Dorsey, he said, "I’m excited for the opportunity, I can tell you that. It’s what we all work for. We can’t all play in the big leagues, and we can’t play forever. The next best thing would be to coach in the big leagues."
The Twins also announced that they will be hiring one more coach.
Baldelli talked about putting together a collection of talented coaches who can teach. He talked about the importance of diversity.
Hernandez is the oldest coach at 50. Derek Shelton is 48. Rowson is 42 while Johnson and Diaz are both 41. Tommy Watkins is 38, and Jeremy Hefner is just 32 years old. Is it possible that the staff is too inexperienced, or is this group of coaches with a vast array of experiences, strong people skills and willingness to be open-minded exactly what they need right now?
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