While there are rumors that the Atlanta Braves are looking outside of the organization for their next pitching coach, could their best option be to promote from within?
The Atlanta Braves are looking for a new pitching coach to replace Chuck Hernandez after announcing his departure last week. While some talk has come out that the team may be looking outside of the organization for a replacement, the team should strongly consider looking in-house.
For many, that would mean Dennis Lewallyn, the pitching guru who just completed his 36th season as a coach in professional baseball. He’s been bouncing between Florida and Mississippi in the Braves system the past two years, and he was viewed as a big reason for the success of Luiz Gohara in 2017.
That’s not the guy I’m talking about here, however. Instead, my suggestion is the Atlanta Braves look a bit lower in the system.
Since 2016, the Atlanta Braves have entrusted arms going through their first full season level in Rome to the tutelage of Dan Meyer, and with other teams beginning to notice and considering Meyer for more advanced roles, perhaps it’s time that the Atlanta Braves do the same.
Meyer was originally drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the 1st round of the 2002 draft out of James Madison University. He got up to the majors for his debut in 2004 with the Braves before being part of the trade that brought Tim Hudson to Atlanta.
Injuries were the bain of Meyer’s progress in the minor leagues, and he could never stay healthy enough to get a real shot at the Oakland rotation. He had his best season in 2009 after the Marlins claimed him on waivers and put him the bullpen, where he posted a 3.09 ERA and 1.17 WHIP over 71 relief appearances and 58 1/3 innings.
Meyer bounced around a few years in the minor leagues and independent leagues in 2010-2012 after struggling out of the gates in the Marlins ‘pen in 2010. After he didn’t make the Phillies in 2013 out of spring training, he left the game as an active player.
The Atlanta Braves brought Meyer back in March of 2015 to be the minor league pitching rehabilitation coordinator. He was replaced in that role by Mike Maroth and assigned to Rome before 2016.
All he’s done in Rome is tutor one of the greatest rotations the Braves minor leagues has ever seen in 2016, then coach up the elite arms that the Atlanta Braves have put through the level the last two seasons.
Meyer certainly has the respect of the young pitchers that will be vital pieces of the future of the organization. He’s not the only guy getting notice in the organization, however. Maroth and Kanekoa Texeira, who is the Peoria pitching coach in the Arizona Fall League after serving two seasons in Danville in the role, have both been discussed by teams as very impressive minds around the art of pitching, and both could get some attention this offseason.
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If I were the Atlanta Braves, I’d make sure Meyer doesn’t leave the organization, however, as he’s a talented hands-on coach, and putting him into that role in Atlanta could be a great benefit for the Braves.