Marlins hire trailblazer Balkovec as director of player development

January 16th, 2024

MIAMI -- Rachel Balkovec has agreed to become the Marlins' director of player development, Miami announced on Tuesday, a week after the news broke. Balkovec's hiring was made official in conjunction with the hiring of Gabe Kapler as the assistant general manager, Vinesh Kanthan as the director of baseball operations and Frankie Piliere as the director of amateur scouting.

Balkovec, 36, is no stranger to the Minor League landscape, working in various capacities across three organizations since beginning her professional baseball career in 2012. Over the past two seasons, she has been the Yankees' Single-A skipper. A trailblazer in baseball, she was the first woman to:

According to a story by's Rob Terranova, Balkovec has a background in cutting-edge analytics, beginning as an exercise science major at Creighton and New Mexico, where she was an NCAA Division I catcher on their softball teams. Balkovec then earned a master's degree in kinesiology from LSU in 2012.

After graduating, Balkovec served as an interim strength and conditioning coach in the Cardinals' organization for Rookie Advanced Johnson City and went on to earn the Appalachian League Award for Strength Coach of the Year. In '14, she became the first woman to be hired as a full-time professional baseball coordinator. Two years later, she was hired by the Astros as the organization's Latin America strength and conditioning coordinator. In '18, she was hired as the strength and conditioning coach for the club's Double-A affiliate.

Balkovec later worked on her master's at Vrije Universiteit in the Netherlands, researching human movement sciences with a focus on biomechanics. She has spent time researching eye tracking for hitters and hip movement for pitchers at data-driven performance center Driveline Baseball. Balkovec also coached in the Australian Baseball League after the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the 2020 Minor League season, and she was named to the coaching staff for the '21 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at Coors Field.

New president of baseball operations Peter Bendix has brought in Balkovec, Kapler and Kanthan as he restructures the organization. In September 2022, Miami let go director of player development Geoff DeGroot. Since then, director of Minor League operations Hector Crespo has filled in but didn't have the title. The Marlins’ farm system has struggled to produce homegrown position players in recent years, and it has taken a dip in MLB Pipeline’s rankings because of a combination of drafting, development and Trade Deadline moves to reach the 2023 postseason.