Yankees name James Rowson hitting coach

November 14th, 2023

In his previous role as the Yankees’ Minor League hitting coordinator, James Rowson forged a beneficial relationship with a young , sensing that the developing slugger was on track for greatness.

Rowson and Judge will continue working together this season. Rowson has rejoined the organization as the Yankees’ big league hitting coach, the club announced on Monday. Rowson replaces Sean Casey, who decided not to return after a half-season in the role.

“[Judge] is a guy that I’ve always rooted for,” Rowson said on Tuesday. "I’m really excited to get an opportunity to come back and work with him, and the other guys on the team. I think we have an opportunity to do something special here, and he’s a big part of it.”

The 2024 season will mark the 10th on a big league coaching staff for the 47-year-old Rowson, who spent this past year as the Tigers’ assistant hitting coach. Rowson was the bench coach for the Marlins from 2020-22 following a three-year stint as the Twins’ hitting coach (2017-19).

Rowson said that it has not yet been determined if Casey Dykes and Brad Wilkerson will return as assistant hitting coaches. Rowson said that he plans to discuss the matter with general manager Brian Cashman, who recently spoke about his desire for a staff that can fill all of the hitters’ needs.

“When you’re dealing with a team with veterans like ours, it’s a little bit more interesting,” Cashman said. “Some guys are used to having access to certain things. The culture I want to make sure we create in that clubhouse is that every player has access to what they want. The younger guys might gravitate more to tech/analytic information; the older guys might not be as exposed in that world or might not have an interest in that world. I need dual threats that can provide everything.”

One of Rowson’s top priorities will be working with Giancarlo Stanton, who batted a career-low .191 with 24 home runs and 60 RBIs in 101 games this past season. Rowson said that he and Stanton have exchanged text messages. 

“It’s just a matter of getting to know him and talking,” Rowson said. “He’s a veteran player; he’s been around. He’s ready for the upcoming year. I’m excited. I think we’re going to get to know each other here pretty quickly, and I think a good relationship is going to come out of it.” 

During Rowson’s time with Minnesota, the Twins ranked fourth in the Majors in runs scored (2,492), fifth in batting average (.260) and slugging percentage (.445), sixth in OPS (.775) and seventh in home runs (679).

In 2019, Minnesota set a Major League record with 307 home runs while establishing club records for runs scored (939), extra-base hits (648), slugging percentage (.494) and OPS (.832). That same year, the Twins also ranked second in the Majors in runs scored, hits (1,547), batting average (.270), slugging percentage and OPS.

The Mount Vernon, N.Y., native spent nine years in the Yankees organization from 2006-11 and 2014-16, serving as the Minor League hitting coordinator in seven of those seasons (2008-11, ’14-16). He was also the hitting coach for Class A Advanced Tampa from 2006-07.

Rowson also spent two seasons with the Cubs organization (2012-13), serving as their Minor League hitting coordinator before being named the Major League hitting coach in June 2012.

“To have the opportunity to do this for my hometown team, it means everything,” Rowson said. “I know it’d be a lot more exciting when you win in New York. That’s the job. Now it’s time to get to work and do my part.”

A former outfielder who played three Minor League seasons with the Mariners (1995-96) and Yankees, Rowson began his coaching career with the Angels organization, spending four years as a Minor League hitting coach with Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga (2004-05), Class A Cedar Rapids (2003) and Rookie-Level Provo (2002).

“You have to have a lot of different arrows at this level; different guys do different things,” Rowson said. “That’s part of the draw. You have to learn what they do and put them on that path. I don’t truly have one thing that I would say, ‘This is my philosophy and this is my way of doing things.’ I get to know players and play to their strengths.”