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Article: Twins Add To Coaching Staff

tommy watkins derek shelton tony diaz jeremy hefner rocco baldelli
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#1 Seth Stohs

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Posted 16 November 2018 - 05:39 PM

On Friday afternoon, the Twins announced most of their 2019 coaching staff. While they are still looking to fill one spot on Rocco Baldelli's coaching staff, they did make seven of their coaches official.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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#2 HrbekRules

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Posted 16 November 2018 - 05:52 PM

Happy to see Watkins move up to the big club!
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#3 Carole Keller

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Posted 16 November 2018 - 06:14 PM

Wow, yay for Tommy Watkins! That makes me happy!

Hefner as asst. pitching coach? Is that a new name for bull pen coach?

I’d say that Baldelli held true to wanting a diversified staff.
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#4 ChrisKnutson

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Posted 16 November 2018 - 06:15 PM

Finally!! Now let’s get to making some FA deals and some trades!!!
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#5 luckylager

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Posted 16 November 2018 - 06:33 PM

Great choices. I'm liking what Rocco is doing.
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#6 Shaitan

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Posted 16 November 2018 - 06:41 PM

 

Great choices. I'm liking what Rocco is doing.

 

What are the reports on the hiring process. Are these Rocco's picks, the FO's, or a mutual agreement kind of thing?

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#7 luckylager

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Posted 16 November 2018 - 07:47 PM

I'm only guessing that the field manager gets to pick his staff. But I'm sure the front office has some input too.
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#8 Sconnie

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Posted 16 November 2018 - 08:10 PM

What are the reports on the hiring process. Are these Rocco's picks, the FO's, or a mutual agreement kind of thing?

in a recent Doogie pod Falvey sounded like he was very involved in the process.
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#9 tarheeltwinsfan

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Posted 16 November 2018 - 09:02 PM

I feel good about this.


#10 ashburyjohn

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Posted 16 November 2018 - 09:08 PM

With Wes Johnson reportedly getting more than typical money for a newbie pitching coach, I imagine it was not simply the manager's decision in that particular case.

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#11 Jacksson

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Posted 16 November 2018 - 09:33 PM

Had to pay up to get Johnson; Wes Johnson has a 6.13 MM contract with the New Orleans Pelicans.
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#12 DocBauer

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Posted 16 November 2018 - 10:25 PM

Reading this and reflecting I'm feeling better and better about this staff.

I know the FO is obviously having some say here, but I'm getting the feeling they are simpotico with Rocco in building the new staff. Baldelli talked about a diverse staff, and it seems he has it. It's all gut reaction, of course.

I like having Shelton back on board, especially since be and Rocco have a connection. In 2017 Rowson was the belle of the ball and a fresh voice. 2018 was a cluster of crap in so many ways, and no way to fault him. I'm fine with him back again. I know nothing about Diaz, but 20 years experience and his writing shows me a guy who "gets" bridging the communication necessary for success for Latin players.

I think, like a lot of us, that Watkins may be a rising star. I just felt for certain the Twins would keep him in the minors for another year to learn and "train". I am very happy for his inclusion. He's a good baseball guy, a great communicator by all reports, knows the guys on the roster, and a majority of the guys coming up.

In retrospect, I'm seeing a rookie manager, some rookie coaches, and a couple guys with experience. And really, it's not a very old staff with Hernandez and Shelton 50yo-.

A little confused with Her her as "assistant" pitching coach. Is he the pen coach? If not, then does that spot have to be named yet? Or is that really his spot and a catching, defensive specialist, special advisor coach need to be named yet?
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#13 BK432

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Posted 16 November 2018 - 10:53 PM

Yeah, the thing is, I truly have no idea. But it fits my script of what I want, getting the most talented guys regardless of experience, and looking to the college ranks. I'm cautiously optimistic. I really am loving what I'm reading about Wes. As with everything, however, we shall see.

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#14 Rosterman

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Posted 17 November 2018 - 12:09 AM

I always wondered what coaches were paid, and amazed that they do make less than your beginning major league player. A professional where the average salary of the playing employees is bigger than that 90% of the people running the ship. Go figure.

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#15 Doctor Wu

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Posted 17 November 2018 - 05:44 AM

 

I'm only guessing that the field manager gets to pick his staff. But I'm sure the front office has some input too.

I'm guessing too, but I think your hunch is probably accurate. But I also think the front office has more input and final say in these decisions than we would think, especially seeing as how Baldelli himself is a new hire with no previous managing experience.

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#16 Doctor Wu

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Posted 17 November 2018 - 05:49 AM

I especially like the pick of Tony Diaz as third base coach. Very wise decision to get a Spanish-speaking coach involved at the MLB level. And the guy even wrote a book that gave English language advice to Latin players. Good move!

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#17 ashburyjohn

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Posted 17 November 2018 - 09:04 AM

I especially like the pick of Tony Diaz as third base coach. Very wise decision to get a Spanish-speaking coach involved at the MLB level. And the guy even wrote a book that gave English language advice to Latin players. Good move!

Hope that book contains a chapter on when to send the runner, and another chapter on when not. :)

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#18 mikelink45

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Posted 17 November 2018 - 09:48 AM

I cannot approve or disapprove.I have no idea how good any of these picks are and will not know for at least a year.I would really like to see the job description and expectations for each of them. 

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#19 Halsey Hall

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Posted 17 November 2018 - 10:54 AM

So happy for Tommy! He's got to be beside himself thrilled.
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he gone!


#20 dbminn

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Posted 17 November 2018 - 11:19 AM

 

I cannot approve or disapprove.I have no idea how good any of these picks are and will not know for at least a year.I would really like to see the job description and expectations for each of them. 

 

Totally agree it's going to take a year to see how this works. It's an interesting group. 

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