Coordinators maximize Miami staff's experience

February 15th, 2020

JUPITER, Fla. -- No, they won’t be wearing headsets or sitting in the press box, but the Marlins' 2020 coaching staff will have two unofficially titled “coordinators.”

Taking a page from the NFL, the Marlins plan on using offensive and defensive coordinators on manager Don Mattingly’s staff.

Overseeing the hitting side will be new bench coach, James Rowson, who joins the organization after serving as the Twins' hitting coach for three seasons. The defensive coordinator will be Trey Hillman, the team’s third-base coach.

The two are expanding their responsibilities from the past. It’s a concept the Marlins are employing to maximize the experiences of their staff.

“It really came from James, himself,” Mattingly said of the coordinator concepts. “That’s how he kind of envisioned a role coming over to us. He was a hitting coach in Minnesota and a couple of different places. As he came to us as a bench coach, he talked about this. It was something that we liked.”

After the Marlins hired Rowson, they promoted Eric Duncan to hitting coach after he was the interim assistant hitting coach last year, Mattingly thought, why not do something on the defensive side?

Hillman, who in the past has been a big league manager, infield, first- and third-base coach, was the logical choice to oversee the defensive side of things.

“That really got me thinking about the defensive side, which is perfect for Trey,” Mattingly said. “We know he’s going to be prepared in all different defensive areas. He’s done everything in baseball, from managing to the Minor League side and development.”

Under the offensive umbrella will be Rowson and Duncan. On the defensive side, pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr. and new bullpen coach Wellington Cepeda will work closely with Hillman.

The Marlins decided to go a different path after long-time bench coach, Tim Wallach, retired after the 2019 season.

“With Wally kind of retiring, not really wanting to keep going, that opened our eyes,” Mattingly said. “We could have gone Trey there and been traditional with that.

“But when we had a chance, we started thinking about the offensive side. We had a chance to talk with James. [Offensive coordinator] was something that was intriguing.”

In 2019, the Marlins ranked 29th in runs (615) and last in home runs (146) and slugging percentage (.375).

Defensively, according to standard statistics, the club was middle of the road, ranking 17th in errors (95).

“Be opened-minded,” Mattingly said. “Let’s get this done the best way possible. It doesn’t have to be my way. It doesn’t have to be Trey’s way. It doesn’t have to be James’ way. Let’s do things the best way possible to put us in position for success.”

Roles for Kemp
, a non-roster invitee, has a strong shot at making the Opening Day roster. With rosters expanding to 26, that allows the Marlins to carry Kemp as proven hitter off the bench.

Defensively, Kemp has only played in the outfield, and that is expected should he be part of the 2020 plans. To provide a little more flexibility, Kemp will see some work at first base.

Mattingly said at this stage of Kemp’s career, wherever he is playing, his role will be “limited.”

“We’ve talked about playing him some at first,” Mattingly said. “I’ve never seen him there. I heard he looks pretty good there. But I think primarily, we’re talking left field.”

Special moment
Captain’s Camp wrapped up on Saturday morning with a special event. For the second straight year, Marlins prospects participated in a Baseball Fantasy Camp for Kids event for athletes from Special Olympics Florida.

Some of the Marlins' top prospects, like and were at one station with athletes, as was former big league manager Clint Hurdle, offering encouragement and inspiration as they ran the bases.

By the time the event was over, Nuñez had the group dabbing.

Up next
The Marlins' final exclusive pitchers and catchers’ workouts is at 9:30 a.m. ET on Sunday at the Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium complex. Full-squad workouts begin on Monday. Practices are open to the public.