Ken Rosenthal reports that the Pittsburgh Pirates are expected to stay internal in their search for a new hitting coach. Meanwhile, Travis Sawchik says assistant hitting coach Jeff Branson is a candidate for the position.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 12, 2013
Jeff Branson, the Pirates' assistant hitting coach, is a candidate to replace Jay Bell, per source
— Travis Sawchik (@Travis_Sawchik) November 12, 2013
Last night we heard that Jay Bell took a position with the Cincinnati Reds as their bench coach, which left the Pirates without a hitting coach for the 2014 season. Branson would make sense, since he was working at the major league level last year. As for the minor league coaches, it’s hard to quantify the value of a hitting coach, since you don’t know how much of a player’s production was due to the player, and how much was due to the coach. With that said, here are the minor league coaches from the full-season leagues last year, and some of the players they worked with.
AAA – Mike Pagliarulo: This was the first year for Pagliarulo with Indianapolis. The hitters with the most success were Andrew Lambo, Josh Harrison, and Jordy Mercer briefly before his call-up. As a major league hitter, he had 134 home runs in his career, with 32 in 1987 for the Yankees.
AA – Ryan Long: He’s been the hitting coach in the system for several years, working with guys like Jordy Mercer, Tony Sanchez, Josh Harrison, and any other hitter who has gone through Altoona to the majors the last few years.
A+ – Edgar Varela: He spent the 2012 season in West Virginia and 2013 in Bradenton. Those were also the stops for breakout prospects Gregory Polanco and Alen Hanson.
A – Orlando Merced: Pirates fans know Merced. The 2013 season was his first in the organization and he worked with Stetson Allie and Josh Bell, who both had good seasons in West Virginia.