Twins hire Alston as new pitching coach

Molitor praises 'communication style' of longtime Minor League coach and player

October 26th, 2017

MINNEAPOLIS -- With several other clubs making pitching-coach changes this offseason, the Twins had several experienced options to choose from. After a search that included several high-profile candidates, they hired Garvin Alston, whom they believe is an up-and-comer with his communication skills, knowledge of analytics and background working with rehabbing pitchers. Alston replaces the dismissed Neil Allen.
Alston, 45, was the bullpen coach for the A's in 2017 after opening the season as a pitching rehab coordinator for the Padres in his 13th year as a coach in professional baseball. He's the 16th pitching coach in club history, and only the fourth since 1985. The Twins interviewed other candidates, like Carl Willis and Jim Hickey, but they went with Alston even though he's never served as a Major League pitching coach.
"When we set out on a path after making a change, we set out to find the best pitching coach for our ballclub," chief baseball officer Derek Falvey said. "We want one who had experience with pitching development, relationships, fit our culture and would really grow with us moving forward. We thought Garvin checked all those boxes and then some."
Alston previously served as the bullpen coach for the D-backs in 2016 after serving in a variety of roles with the A's from 2005-15. He was Oakland's Minor League pitching coordinator in '15, the Minor League rehab pitching coordinator from 2009-14 and the pitching coach at Class A Advanced Stockton (2007-08) and Class A Kane County (2005-06). Falvey felt his experience in those roles made him more well-suited to what he was looking for in a candidate.
"We felt we found a real partner for our staff and one who is committed to the growth of our pitchers," Falvey said. "He comes in with incredible recommendations [from] those who have worked around [him]. He's worked in so many roles, we feel like that's going to impact us moving forward."
Alston said he doesn't believe in following one specific pitching philosophy, as it's more tailored to each individual pitcher and what they bring. He said he'll make sure to reach out to the pitchers and the club's Minor League pitching coaches this offseason to get a better feel. He'll also immerse himself in video to get ready before Spring Training.
"It's more than just a philosophy or two, it's the ability to adjust to the pitcher and knowing what their strengths are," Alston said. "I think that's vitally important for them to know what they do well. I start out with identity and who you are as a pitcher, and then you expand on that and find weaknesses and work on that. And use whatever information is out there, whether it's Trackman or whatever."
Twins manager Paul Molitor said he didn't know much about Alston before the interview, but that he came away impressed after a one-on-one meeting with him in his office.
"Getting a chance to have him sit across my desk and have a lengthy conversation, I felt that there was instantaneous comfortability," Molitor said. "His communication style and ability to push the right buttons and building relationships is important. He understands the new data and how we use it for a pitcher's game plan."
As a player, Alston was a 10th-round in pick in the 1992 Draft by the Rockies. He played eight seasons in the Minors, posting 4.78 ERA, and made six relief appearances with Colorado in '96, going 1-0 with a 9.00 ERA. Coincidentally, he hails from Mount Vernon, N.Y., the same hometown as hitting coach James Rowson, and they knew each other as Little Leaguers.