Pirates name Marin as pitching coach

December 17th, 2019

PITTSBURGH -- While interviewing candidates for their pitching coach opening last week, the Pirates said they wouldn’t limit their selection by prioritizing age or a certain level of experience. They wanted someone who could connect with players, convey information and understand the advanced technology and data that are now part of the job.

True to their word, the Bucs hired a 37-year-old, first-time pitching coach who only a decade ago was working with high schoolers. Pittsburgh named former Rangers bullpen coach Oscar Marin as its new Major League pitching coach on Tuesday.

The addition of Marin shifts former assistant pitching coach Justin Meccage, who also interviewed for Ray Searage’s old job, to the role of bullpen coach.

Marin will be asked to immediately help a Pirates pitching staff that struggled in 2019. Overall, Pittsburgh posted a 5.18 ERA and a 1.46 WHIP while allowing 241 home runs. The Bucs will be without Opening Day starter Jameson Taillon (Tommy John surgery) while trying to get more out of Chris Archer, Trevor Williams, top prospect Mitch Keller, Steven Brault, Kyle Crick, Michael Feliz and Clay Holmes, among others.

Last year was Marin’s first as a Major League coach. He spent the previous two seasons as the Mariners’ Minor League pitching coordinator. Before that, Marin spent six years as a pitching coach in the Rangers’ farm system -- with the Arizona League Rangers (2010-12), Rookie-level Spokane (’13), Class A Hickory (’14-15) and Class A Advanced High Desert (’16).

In 2012, Marin coached in the Puerto Rican Winter League. In ’15, he was named South Atlantic League Coach of the Year.

Before joining the Rangers, Marin was the pitching coach and coordinator at the well-known Harvard-Westlake School in Los Angeles. There, he worked with a young Lucas Giolito, now an All-Star starter with the White Sox. Marin made his way there after serving as a fifth-year assistant at the University of Arkansas-Little Rock and the pitching coach at Los Angeles Valley College.

One thing not on Marin’s resume? Professional pitching experience. He pitched at Los Angeles Valley College from 2001-02 and at the University of Arkansas-Little Rock from 2003-04. But these days, successful pitching coaches don’t always follow the same path.

Wes Johnson, who worked with Pirates manager Derek Shelton the last two years in Minnesota, had no professional coaching experience before he became the Twins’ pitching coach in November 2018. Reds pitching coach Derek Johnson didn’t pitch professionally, making the leap from college pitcher to college pitching coach.

“One thing we have to be very cognizant of is where guys played or where they coached is not as important anymore, because players in today's game, they want information,” Shelton said during the Winter Meetings. “They want to get better. They want to know how they're going to get better, so we have to have somebody who's very well-versed in all of these things.

“Someone that has advanced knowledge of how the game is played, and that's not just with data, but it's with tech and being able to use those things. Because the way that we can measure how things are done or how pitches are thrown or how our body is going to recover is a big part of it, and I think we have to stay ahead of that.”

Speaking at the Winter Meetings, Brault also mentioned the impact a younger, analytically savvy pitching coach might have on the Bucs.

“It's just a different time that we're in now. I think it'd be cool if they went a little bit younger, somebody that was more interested in the analytics,” Brault said last week. “We have Meccage, who has really gotten into it, and he's done his best to learn everything. That's been helpful. But I think if that's kind of the direction we're going to go, then we need to have a guy that's knowledgeable about that stuff.”