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Saturday Bird Droppings: The O’s coaching staff is set

A new pitching coach, executives around the league like the Orioles, and getting Gunnar to use his legs.

2021 Atlanta Braves Photo Day Photo by Mike Carlson/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Good Morning, Birdland!

The big news of the day is that O’s skipper Brandon Hyde has finalized his coaching staff for the 2024 season. Unsurprisingly, there was relatively little turnover following the 101-win campaign in 2023. And the most notable change—a new pitching coach—has been known since November.

Drew French is the name to learn. The new pitching coach is 39 years old. He comes over from the Atlanta Braves, where he was bullpen coach since December 2020. Prior to that, French had been with the Houston Astros organization since 2016, rising to Triple-A pitching coach in 2019. He overlapped with GM Mike Elias and former O’s pitching coach Chris Hole when they were both also with the Astros.

It was reported after the season that Holt would be vacating the pitching coach role, but would remain as the organization’s director of pitching. So we should expect the hiring of French to represent a continuation of the club’s develop philosophy rather than any sort of seismic shift. Given how improved the pitching staff has been in recent seasons that is something to be excited about.

The only departure from Hyde’s previous staff was Darren Holmes, who had been the assistant pitching coach since 2020. Holmes is now the bullpen coach on Craig Counsell’s staff with the Chicago Cubs. In his place, the Orioles have promoted Mitch Plassmeyer from Minor League pitching coordinator. He has been with the organization since May of 2022.

The final new name to learn is Grant Anders. He has been with the O’s since November 2019. In that time he has risen from Double-A development coach to Major League player development analyst and now Major League development coach.

If the Orioles can continue to replicate successful seasons it will be interesting to see how Hyde’s staff evolves in the years ahead. One would imagine that if other teams try to emulate what the O’s have been able to accomplish in recent years that would include picking off members of the major league coaching staff.

But that is a problem for future seasons. As for 2024, Hyde’s crew is all set for what the organization should expect to be a huge year.

Links

MLB execs survey was a real positive for the Orioles | Steve Melewski
These sorts of polls certainly don’t guarantee a World Series, or even modest success. But in general, they are a good guide of how the organization is progressing. So far, all indications are that Elias and his crew are crushing it on the player development side of the operation.

10 players who should run more in ‘24 | MLB.com
Speed is an underrated characteristic of Gunnar Henderson’s game. He’s not simply above-average. The guy is fast! But I appreciate that he was rather conservative in the run game in 2023. It was a year that saw him face some challenges, evolve his game, and come out on the other side looking like a super star. Thinking about stolen bases would have been an unnecessary variable. But now that he’s gotten a bit more comfortable at the big league level it could be time to unleash his legs.

Mailbag leftovers for breakfast | Roch Kubatko
No new information really, but Roch does answer a question that pits Colton Cowser vs. Heston Kjerstad in terms of playing time. It’s an interesting one that may not even be relevant by the time Opening Day rolls around. Like, if the Orioles are going to land a big arm, does one of those two need to be in the deal? It kind of feels like it if they want someone with years of control. Perhaps that has been a sticking point in various discussions.

2024 International Prospect Rankings and Scouting Reports | FanGraphs
Hey, the Orioles participate in this aspect of the talent pipeline now, and they even have two names on this list: 16-year-old shortstop Emilio Sanchez ranked 21st, and 16-year-old outfielder Stiven Martinez ranked 41st. If the rapid ascension of Samuel Basallo is any indication, this seems like a good thing to continue doing!

Orioles birthdays

Is it your birthday? Happy birthday!

  • Oliver Drake turns 37. The Naval Academy product went from being a 43rd round pick in 2008 to becoming worthwhile reliever for seven different clubs. That included a three-season run with the Orioles from 2015 through 2017.
  • Odell Jones is 71. He pitched in 21 games for the 1986 Orioles.

This day in O’s history

1982 - Frank Robinson earns induction into the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. He’s part of an impressive class that also includes Hank Aaron.