Mattingly hired as Phils' new farm director

September 30th, 2021

ATLANTA -- Dave Dombrowski keeps a to-do list on a yellow legal pad. He finds it is the best way to remember everything as the list expands to four, five and six pages long.

Shortly after Dombrowski became the Phillies' president of baseball operations in December, he got a call from a respected baseball person whom he has known at least a decade. The person called to specifically tell Dombrowski that he needed to hire Preston Mattingly, who worked with the Padres. He told him that Mattingly is a “difference maker.”

Dombrowski wrote down the name on his legal pad, even though he had no jobs available at the time.

Flash forward to September in Miami. Dombrowski just made sweeping changes to the organization’s Minor League system, removing assistant general manager Bryan Minniti, who oversaw the department since September 2017, and player development director Josh Bonifay, who served in the role since October 2018. Dombrowski found himself in a conversation with Marlins manager Don Mattingly, Preston's father, at Marlins Park. Dombrowski asked Mattingly about his son, mentioning that they were looking for a farm director.

It is no surprise that Mattingly praised his son. As he walked away, he turned back to Dombrowski and said, “He’s worth an interview for you.”

The Phillies announced on Wednesday that they hired Preston Mattingly, 34, as their new director of player development. Mattingly spent the past five seasons with the Padres, including this past season as their Major League advance scouting and game planning coordinator. He worked with the San Diego's coaching staff and research and development department as he disseminated information to the team's pitchers.

“He’s a baseball rat,” Dombrowski said. “He loves baseball. He’s knowledgeable. He’s dealt with the analytical front. He’s dealt with coordinating information for the Padres' pitchers and staff. He’s had a lot of experience. The Padres exposed him to everything. They involved him in big league stuff, player development, scouting. He’s got leadership qualities. He’s got a great personality. He meshes with people. We looked for references of people that are veteran baseball and our younger baseball people. They all absolutely loved him. He presented good plans to us.”

The ultimate plan is to turn the Phillies’ farm system into one that consistently develops its talent. It fell short in that regard the past several seasons. MLB Pipeline ranks the Phils’ farm system 27th in baseball. Baseball America ranks it 28th.

One criticism was that in the Phillies' efforts to modernize their farm system's operations, they swung too far toward technology and analytics. That meant more classroom work and not enough on-field work and playing the game.

“I think there will be a true balance,” Dombrowski said. “I think one thing we need to do is make sure everybody is on the same page and understands what that page is. And he will do that. It’s extremely important that we make sure everybody is on the same page. But, yes, I do think that will be different. I think we will blend it very well. Now, you have to be aware that all those other things exist in today’s world, but you can’t forget about what’s important, which is on the field and learning how to play the game. And he knows it.”

One of Mattingly’s first tasks will be to hire a new field coordinator. There could be other changes coming, too.

“We’re not looking to make changes, but I would be surprised if he didn’t make some changes of some people that he wants to bring on board,” Dombrowski said.

Dombrowski said the Phillies interviewed around 10 people for the job, including three internal candidates. They vetted many more. But they chose Mattingly, who grew up around baseball and played it. The Dodgers selected Mattingly with the 31st overall pick in the 2006 MLB Draft. He played six seasons in the Minor Leagues before he enrolled at Lamar University in Texas, where he was the captain of the men’s basketball team.

Mattingly will report to general manager Sam Fuld and assistant general manager Jorge Velandia.

“He embodies of what we’re looking for culturally,” Fuld said. “He’s humble. He has empathy. He’s driven. He’s open-minded and he learns a lot. He learns quickly. He learns from a lot of different people. In talking to him and others in San Diego, he’s done an amazing job connecting with a lot of different people throughout the organization. He’s smart and he’s just motivated to be really good. I think he’s somebody who would be really good at anything that he did.”