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.
#Pirates expect to stay internal in their search to replace hitting coach Jay Bell, who is joining #Reds as bench coach.
— 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.
Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.
Our lefty hitters were for the most part attrocious with Bell this season. This is no loss at all.
When I talked to Tony Sanchez early in the season, he spoke highly of his work with Pagliarulo.
I’ll be impressed with hitting coach if he can get Pedro to hit .250 and strike out “only” 28%.
Should it worry the Pirates that their hitting coach has just moved over to a division rival?