SAN DIEGO -- A couple more coaching roles have come into focus for the Marlins’ 2020 staff.
Billy Hatcher, who has extensive big league coaching and playing experience, will be the new first-base coach, and Eric Duncan is being promoted to hitting coach after being the assistant hitting coach for most of the 2019 season. Hatcher, 59, will also work with the outfielders.
Hatcher has been a first- and third-base coach in the big leagues, most recently with the Reds from 2006-18. He also coached on the Rays’ big league staff in 1998-99 and from 2003-05. Hatcher enjoyed a 12-year Major League playing career from 1984-95.
Duncan became the Marlins’ assistant hitting coach after they dismissed Mike Pagliarulio on April 19. Before that, he was in Miami’s system for the first time as a Minor League hitting coordinator. This offseason, Duncan has been working with some of the Marlins' players at the Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium complex in Jupiter, Fla.
Jeff Livesey, Miami’s interim hitting coach, is remaining with the organization as a Minor League hitting coordinator. He opened 2019 as the club’s assistant hitting coach and was promoted after Pagliarulo was let go.
The Marlins are waiting for all of their coaches to be officially signed before announcing manager Don Mattingly’s full staff.
As previously reported, James Rowson will be the new bench coach. Trey Hillman is returning for his second season, but he is moving to third-base coach after coaching first base last year. Hillman will also coach the infielders.
Mel Stottlemyre Jr. is back as pitching coach, and Wellington Cepeda (formerly in the D-backs' system) will be the new bullpen coach. Rob Flippo is also coming back as bullpen coordinator.
Eddy Rodriguez is joining the staff as catching coach. A former University of Miami standout, Rodriguez was the Angels’ Minor League catching coordinator last year.
Upgrading their offense is the Marlins’ top offseason priority and is one of their main focuses at the Winter Meetings, which began on Monday and run through Thursday.
Recently, the Marlins made their most significant Hot Stove additions, acquiring infielder Jonathan Villar from the Orioles and claiming first baseman Jesús Aguilar off waivers from the Rays.
As hitting coach, Duncan will work closely with Rowson, who was the Twins’ hitting coach in 2019. Minnesota set the MLB home run record for a season with 307, and he will have input on the organization’s plans at both the Major and Minor League levels.
The Marlins are looking to bolster a stagnant offense that ranked last in the Majors in homers (146) and second to last in runs (615).
Katoh signs Minors deal
The Marlins have signed infielder Gosuke Katoh to a Minor League contract, with an invitation to Spring Training. Katoh, 25, was the Yankees’ second-round pick in 2013. He split time at Double-A and Triple-A in '19, combining for a slash line of .267/.362/.401 with 11 home runs and 46 RBIs.
A San Diego native, Katoh is a left-handed-hitting second baseman and utility player.
Right-handed reliever Tyler Kinley was claimed off waivers by the Rockies on Monday. Miami's 40-man roster is now 39, freeing up a space for the club to participate in Thursday's Rule 5 Draft. In 2019, Kinley had a 3.65 ERA in 49 1/3 innings, with 46 strikeouts and a 1.60 WHIP.