Rockies revamp front office ahead of 2022
DENVER -- Rockies assistant general manager Zack Rosenthal is excited for new ideas.
The Rockies’ research and development department lost personnel during the pandemic and was short-staffed in 2021 during a resulting hiring freeze. But Rosenthal this week revealed a rebuilt staff, full of ideas from other organizations and other disciplines. The research and development staff is back to previous levels, with gradual expansion in the works.
“You want to talk about bringing in different perspectives, just different ways of looking at things -- it is something we were badly in need of in my opinion,” said Rosenthal, whose time with the Rockies began with an internship in 2006. “This is as excited as I've been about [the] front office in a long time.”
The Rockies have also made other baseball operations, scouting and player development promotions and hirings as part of a revamping that began in late April, when Bill Schmidt assumed general manager duties after the departure of former GM Jeff Bridich.
The revamping began in September with the hiring of Scott Van Lenten as R&D director. Van Lenten, who had been with the Nationals since 2017 and earned a World Series title in ’19, has completed the move to Denver.
Here is the revamped research and development department:
• Brittany Haby, manager, baseball research
Haby worked with the Rockies the past four seasons through the MLB Diversity Fellowship Program. Last season after all the departures, Haby carried much of the duty at home and on the road, from consulting with coaches for defensive positioning to researching special assignments for pitching coaches.
Haby’s duties will involve advance scouting. She will work with longtime staff members Chris Warren, a traveling advance scout, and Joe Little and Brian Jones, who will share video coordinator and advance scout duties. Statistical analysts will also report to Haby, and she will provide information to manager Bud Black and the coaches.
“Advance scouting is a passion of mine, and we work extremely well together,” Rosenthal said. “She will make a big difference.”
• Isaac Gerhart-Hines, full stack web developer
Gerhart-Hines had worked with Van Lenten with the Nationals, but he had left the club and was considering other businesses.
“But then he reached out to Scott and said, ‘If you’re running the department, I want in,’” Rosenthal said. “The reviews and calls we have gotten from the Nationals are off the charts.”
Gerhart-Hines is working on the user-facing system.
• Taehwa Hong, data engineer
A native of South Korea, Hong served a mandatory stint in the military and did computer engineering and development for the South Korean government, but he had other dreams.
“He grew up with baseball, loved the game of baseball, but his family did not love baseball or know much about it,” Rosenthal said. “He moved to the United States five years ago with the sole goal of trying to find a job in Major League Baseball. I have never spoken to anyone more excited about getting a job.”
Hong helped on the ground floor of Prep Baseball Report, which covers the baseball prospect world. Hong brought in and verified advanced data -- the same duties he will handle with the Rockies.
• Ryan Kelley, data architect
Kelley spent six seasons with the Rays, who are regarded highly for meshing analytics with the on-field product, and was looking for a new challenge.
“Taehwa brings all the data in, and Ryan takes it from there and makes sure it’s going into all the right tables to pull from, to put into the website that Isaac is building, so there are three steps in the process,” Rosenthal said.
• Ethan Moore, analyst, baseball R&D
Moore has spent the past couple seasons with the Twins, but this is a homecoming. Moore attended Broomfield (Colo.) High School and Holy Family High in Broomfield before going to Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo.
“He’s a lifelong Rockies fan, and he’ll do projects for us,” Rosenthal said. “He’s just a really smart guy, good with computers, good with numbers and a whole bunch of stuff, and he brings some experience from a really smart front office.”
• Al Gilbert, director, baseball operations
Gilbert, formerly the Dodgers’ coordinator of contracts and finance, replaced Domenic Di Ricco, who left for an opportunity outside of baseball.
After earning bachelor and master degrees from Stanford, Gilbert earned a doctorate from Harvard Law School and worked in private practice before becoming assistant district attorney for the San Francisco DA’s office. But after 11 months, he joined the MLB Diversity Fellowship program in its inaugural season, 2019, and from there landed the full-time position with the Dodgers.
“He was excited about it because [it offered] a lot more opportunity to impact the club,” Rosenthal said. “We had heard great things about him. I interviewed a lot of people and he was the best.”
• Julianna Rubin, baseball operations fellow
A former soccer standout at Baldwin Wallace University, Rubin earned a law degree from the University of Miami, and had risen to vice president of business and legal affairs at Steinberg Sports -- an agency run by famed agent Leigh Steinberg. Rubin was a 2022 graduate of the MLB Diversity Fellowship Program.
“She loves baseball,” Rosenthal said. “I got a call from her before she started law school because somebody had recommended she talk to me about her interest. I’ve talked to her on and off the last four years, and I’m really excited about her potential.”
Rubin will be working with roster, contract and salary arbitration issues.
Here also are scouting and player development moves:
• Sterling Monfort, director of pro scouting
Son of Rockies owner Dick Monfort and brother of vice president of corporate partnerships Walker Monfort, Sterling Monfort has worked in scouting since 2014 and served as assistant director of scouting operations since '18.
Monfort moves into the needed role of putting together information from the club’s pro scouts who research trades and free agency. He will be part of a decision-making team that includes Schmidt; Danny Montgomery, vice president and assistant general manager of scouting; Ty Coslow, special assistant -- player personnel; and longtime professional scouts.
“Sterling is more than qualified for the position -- he’s developed into a very good evaluator, and he's ready for the challenge of running the department.” Schmidt said. “And we have a lot of veteran scouts, so it’s a perfect situation for Sterling.”
• Emily Glass, scouting operations administrator
Glass had served as the Marlins’ education program coordinator from 2018 until the team eliminated the position after the '21 season. Glass always wanted to transition into scouting, and was trained at the MLB Diversity Pipeline Scout Development Program held in Arizona during October. She is one of 13 people hired from the program.
Rosenthal was familiar with Glass’ education work, since his brother, Joshua, had served in a similar position with the Rockies.
“We got extremely high recommendations from everybody at her scout school,” Rosenthal said. “She was actually driving across the country, and we found out she was going to be driving right through Denver. We interviewed her, and she never left.”
Additionally, as part of a promised expansion in mental skills, Colt Olson, part-time coordinator in the past, has been promoted to a full-time position. Doug Chadwick, director of mental skills development, will have duties mainly with the Major League roster, while Jerry Amador and Olson will work with players throughout the system.
Since assuming the GM job, Schmidt has advocated more mental skills resources. He said further expansion is planned.