Giants go with youth for Kapler's coaching staff

December 16th, 2019

SAN DIEGO -- The Giants announced eight new additions to manager Gabe Kapler's coaching staff on Wednesday, unveiling an assemblage of non-traditional hires that further underscored the club's commitment to youth and player development in 2020.

The oldest member of the new wave of coaches is 38-year-old Brian Bannister, the former Royals pitcher who was hired away from the Red Sox to serve as the Giants' director of pitching. The lone holdover on Kapler's staff so far is Ron Wotus, who was invited to reprise his role as the club's third-base coach.

While the new arrivals are relatively unproven and collectively short on Major League experience, they are well regarded within the industry and share an ability to instruct while connecting with players.

"I think there's a trend in baseball to be a little bit more open-minded about who is the best person to lead and develop baseball players," Kapler said. "Player development continuing at the Major League level is a theme that we're seeing around baseball right now and one that I think we're all heavily invested in."

Andrew Bailey, who was drafted by the A's in 2006 when president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi worked in Oakland's front office, was named the Giants' pitching coach following a two-year stint on the Angels' Major League coaching staff. Bailey, 35, earned two All-Star selections over his eight-year career in the Majors and beat out more than 10 other candidates for the position.

"Even as a player he was super bright, motivated, a leader," Zaidi said. "He was a starting pitcher when he was drafted, and he moved to the bullpen. He was a big driver of that, understanding what he did well and being able to leverage his skills. He was very self-aware in that transition. He's a guy that I've kind of watched his career and always thought that at the right time -- when he was ready and had the requisite experience -- that he could be a really impactful pitching coach someday."

Ethan Katz, 36, will work under Bailey as the club's assistant pitching coach. Katz spent the 2019 season as the Giants' assistant pitching coordinator in the Minors and was a 26th-round Draft pick of the Rockies in 2005 out of Sacramento State. He previously worked in the Angels and Mariners organizations and at Harvard-Westlake High School, where he helped coach current big league pitchers Lucas Giolito, Max Fried and Jack Flaherty. 

The bullpen and catching coach will be 37-year-old Craig Albernaz, who joins the Giants after serving as one of the Rays' Minor League field coordinators in 2019. Albernaz spent eight of his nine Minor League seasons in the Rays organization as a catcher, reaching as high as Triple-A Durham.

The Giants will have a trio of coaches overseeing their hitting instruction. Donnie Ecker, 33, and Justin Viele, 29, will enter on equal footing as the club's hitting coaches. Dustin Lind, 31, will serve as both the assistant hitting coach and director of hitting.

Ecker comes over from the Reds, where he spent this past season working as the club's assistant hitting coach. He began his coaching career at his alma mater, Los Altos High School, in 2013. Viele coached in the Dodgers' system over the last three seasons and was slated to be the team's hitting coordinator this year.

Lind spent the last two seasons in the Mariners organization, most recently serving as their director of hitting development and strategies on the Major League coaching staff. He graduated from Idaho State University with an exercise science degree in 2014 and also earned a doctorate in physical therapy from the University of Montana in 2017.

Kai Correa, 31, will serve as Kapler's bench coach, as well as the Giants' infield and baserunning instructor. A native of Hawaii, Correa spent the last two seasons working in the Indians organization. He is expected to assist with in-game strategy, though Kapler said he also plans to lean heavily on the 58-year-old Wotus for guidance.

The Giants are still looking to hire a first-base coach and a quality control coach. Kapler said he intends to hire a native Spanish speaker to fill one of those vacancies. The Giants have also not made a decision on their video replay personnel, though incumbent Shawon Dunston is in the mix to return.