Results tagged ‘ Chris Michalak ’

Down on the Farm: Nationals announce Minor League Coaching Staffs

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by Amanda Comak

The Washington Nationals announced their minor league managers, coaches and coordinators for the 2014 season on Friday, welcoming two new managers to the chain and promoting three complete staffs within the system.

farm graphicFormer Triple-A Syracuse manager Tony Beasley, and hitting coach Troy Gingrich, have been promoted to minor league co-field coordinator and hitting coordinator, respectively. And among the new faces, the Nationals have added former players, Michael Barrett, Joe Dillon and Tim Redding to their minor league coaching and managerial ranks.

Nationals Vice President of Player Personnel Bob Boone, Assistant General Manager and Vice President of Player Development Doug Harris and Director of Player Development Mark Scialabba made the joint announcement.

The Nationals promoted manager Brian Daubach, pitching coach Chris Michalak and hitting coach Mark Harris from Advanced-A Potomac to Double-A Harrisburg. Manager Tripp Keister, pitching coach Franklin Bravo and hitting coach Brian Rupp moved from Single-A Hagerstown to Advanced-A Potomac. Patrick Anderson was promoted to Single-A Hagerstown after serving as manager in the Gulf Coast League, and is joined on his staff by pitching coach Sam Narron and hitting coach Luis Ordaz.

Additionally, the Nationals promoted Paul Menhart from pitching coach of the Harrisburg Senators to the same position with the Syracuse Chiefs, Amaury Garcia from the Gulf Coast League to Single-A Auburn and Jorge Mejia from the Dominican Summer League to the Gulf Coast League.

Billy Gardner Jr. will manage the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs and Barrett will lead the Gulf Coast League Nationals, the two new managerial additions to the Nationals’ staff this season.  In addition to those changes, Dillon will serve as the hitting coach at Triple-A Syracuse, and Redding will serve as the pitching coach at Single-A Auburn.

Barrett, Dillon and Redding join the coaching ranks after successful professional careers, while Redding and Barrett also have ties from their playing days to the organization.

Redding spent two years pitching for the Nationals, working to a 4.53 ERA in 48 starts between 2007 and 2008, and posted a 4.95 ERA in parts of eight major league seasons. This will be the right-hander’s first season transitioning from playing to coaching.

Barrett, a first-round selection by the Montreal Expos in 1995, spent parts of 12 seasons in the major leagues, including six in an Expos uniform. In over 1,000 Major League games, Barrett posted a career .263 average, .320 on-base percentage and .466 slugging percentage, while starting 820 of those games behind the plate. In 2005, while with the Chicago Cubs, Barrett won a Silver Slugger Award.

Over the course of a 12-year professional career as a utility infielder, Dillon spent parts of four seasons in the Major Leagues with Florida, Milwaukee and Tampa Bay. He is a career .263/.344/.378 hitter in 137 Major League games.

Beasley will replace Bob Henley, who was recently named the Nationals’ third-base coach.  Gingrich fills the position of hitting coordinator made vacant by the promotion of Rick Schu to Nationals’ hitting coach last July.  Jon Kotredes will move to the position of medical and rehab coordinator after spending the 2013 season as Harrisburg’s athletic trainer.

Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs                                       Short-Season Single-A Auburn 
[International League]                                           [New York-Penn League]
Manager – Billy Gardner Jr.                                Manager – Gary Cathcart
Pitching – Paul Menhart                                       Pitching – Tim Redding
Hitting – Joe Dillon                                                 Hitting – Amaury Garcia

Double-A Harrisburg Senators                          Rookie-Level GCL Nationals
[Eastern League]                                                      [Gulf Coast League]
Manager – Brian Daubach                                    Manager – Michael Barrett
Pitching – Chris Michalak                                    Pitching – Michael Tejera
Hitting – Mark Harris                                             Hitting – Jorge Mejia

Single-A Potomac Nationals                               Rookie-Level DSL Nationals
[Carolina League]                                                    [Dominican Summer League]
Manager – Tripp Keister                                       Manager – Sandy Martinez
Pitching – Franklin Bravo                                    Pitching – Pablo Frias
Hitting – Brian Rupp                                              Hitting – Jose Herrera

Single-A Hagerstown Suns
[South Atlantic League]
Manager – Patrick Anderson
Pitching – Sam Narron
Hitting – Luis Ordaz

Coordinators
Co-Field Coordinator – Tony Beasley
Co-Field Coordinator – Jeff Garber
Hitting Coordinator – Troy Gingrich
Pitching Coordinator – Spin Williams
Outfield/Baserunning Coordinator – Gary Thurman
Coordinator of Instruction – Gary Cathcart
Medical and Rehabilitation Coordinator – Jon Kotredes
Strength and Conditioning Coordinator – Landon Brandes
Rehabilitation Pitching Coordinator – Mark Grater
Minor League Equipment Manager – Calvin Minasian

Down on the Farm: Rob Wort

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Following Baseball America’s ranking of the Top 10 Nationals prospects earlier this week, we turn our attention to a prospect whose journey has largely escaped the spotlight to this point. Rob Wort, the Nationals 30th-round draft pick in 2009, burst onto the scene this past season with the highest strikeout rate in all of Minor League Baseball.

Featuring a power fastball/slider combo, the lean, 6-2, right-handed reliever wrapped up his second full season at High-A Potomac with eye-popping numbers. In 56.2 innings, Wort notched 95 strikeouts against just 19 walks, earning 13 saves for the P-Nats and a spot on the Carolina League All-Star Team.

Wort's solid campaign landed him on the Carolina League All-Star Team.

Wort’s solid campaign landed him on the Carolina League All-Star Team.

Wort’s performance was even more impressive in comparison with his peers. Among the more than 2,300 Minor League pitchers to complete at least 40.0 innings in 2012, Wort ranked first in both strikeouts per nine innings (15.1) and strikeout percentage (41.3). The only two professional pitchers with more dominant strikeout numbers than Wort were Atlanta’s Craig Kimbrel and Cincinnati’s Aroldis Chapman, both of whom had historically great seasons in the Major Leagues.

Chris Michalak, Potomac’s pitching coach and a former Major Leaguer himself, has overseen Wort’s development at two Minor League stops. Before his 2012 breakout season, Wort was at his best in 2010 at Low-A Hagerstown – with Michalak coaching him there as well – where he went 5-0 with a 2.08 ERA and 53 strikeouts in 43.1 innings. After Wort suffered through a lackluster 2011 campaign, the newly promoted Michalak guided a change in approach for the 23-year-old hurler.

“The biggest thing (prior to 2012) was that Rob was able to get by with his fastball and a little different arm angle,” Michalak said. “This year we worked on two things: using his backside and legs to leverage the ball and get later movement on his pitches, and developing his slider. His slider became a legitimate out pitch down and away to right-handed hitters.”

Opposing righties stood little chance against Wort this past season, batting a meager .174/.243/.265 and striking out an astonishing 69 times in 144 plate appearances. Lefties fared only marginally better, hitting at a .247/.349/.392 clip with 26 punchouts in 86 trips to the plate. This was a huge improvement for Wort, after lefties batted .354/.475/.625 and struck out just eight times in 64 plate appearances against him in 2011.

Wort notched the highest K rate in the Minor Leagues in 2012.

Wort notched the highest K rate in the Minor Leagues in 2012.

Michalak explained the specific changes that led to Wort’s dramatic improvement against batters from the left side of the plate.

“We wanted to give him more weapons against left-handed hitters,” Michalak said. “Rob tried out a new two-seam fastball and a change-up, which added a couple of wrinkles to what he was doing before. Those became effective pitches for him.”

Should Wort continue his development and eventually earn his way onto the Nationals roster, he would join Toronto left-hander Mark Buehrle as the second Major League player to attend both Francis Howell North High School (St. Charles, Mo.) and Jefferson College (Hillsboro, Mo.). Buehrle was also a late round pick, going to the Chicago White Sox in the 38th round in 1998. Michalak, who was a 12th-round selection out of college and fought his way to the big leagues for the first time at age 27, thinks his pupil has a good shot.

“This year really opened up (Rob’s) eyes a little bit, gave him confidence he could get there,” Michalak said.  “If he continues to make adjustments throughout each season, throughout his career, and he’s not afraid to take those adjustments into the game, I don’t see why he doesn’t have a chance.”

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