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Readers Ask! 11/3/20

Where the magic or something like that happens.

Happy November! We all know what today is. Well, okay, it’s Election Day too, but it’s also time for another edition of Readers Ask! since we try to avoid politics around here.

Today’s question comes from whogastim:

Besides Cherington and Shelton, who are the key staff members charged with development of prospects?

While Ben Cherington and Derek Shelton are certainly aware of up-and-comers, other than suggesting things, I’m fairly sure they don’t have hands-on dealings with prospects.

Back in my corporate career, I knew a guy who’d been drafted in the first round in the mid-seventies by a well-known MLB team which at that time wasn’t particularly good. Even in his late fifties, he looked the part of a hard-throwing righty pitcher, and he could still smoke the ball to those dumb enough to ask him to do it. I looked up his stats, and he’d never made it past Double-A ball. At a company gathering, I asked him about it. He told me that a 20-win season in Single-A got him promoted, but Double-A was where it was really expected that if you were going to get to the majors, you’d respond to coaching. As a pitcher, he was expected to develop an effective curveball and maybe add better movement to his two-seamer. He was unable to do either. One of his Double-A teammates, another pitcher, is now in the Hall of Fame. He dished up what he called “moonshot homers” to a lot of players who did go to the Show. He went back down to Single-A after that floundering year, and ineffectiveness and injuries finished him. He said he’d known plenty of players that had hit the same wall in Double-A.

With the Pirates, that means that it falls to the coaching staff of the Altoona Curve to start separating the wheat from the chaff, so to speak—and, like the big league club, most of them are new faces. After the cancellation of the 2020 minor league season, we can’t yet see what new Curve manager Dave Turgeon is going to bring to the table. Pitching coach Jeff Filer was also scheduled to return in 2020 after being the Pirates’ assistant pitching coordinator for a few years, but he’s had the job before and, as is proudly noted on the Curve’s website, was instrumental in the team’s 2010 Eastern League championship. Hitting coach Dave Newhan, whom I actually remember playing for the Orioles in the early 2000s, is another newb. All of them bring lots of coaching experience to the table, another sign that Cherington is committed to growing homegrown talent.

Keep the questions coming! I’m having fun with this.

ETA 11/17/20: Because of privacy concerns, I changed a couple of details concerning my former coworker, the AA pitcher. He did not have twenty wins, but close to it, and one of his AA teammates did make it into the Hall, but it wasn’t a pitcher. People started to be and have continued to be very creepy about trying to find out who he is, which I anticipated, hence the changes.