With spring training for the 2020 MLB campaign a little over a month away, the Miami Marlins have officially finalized their coaching staff for the upcoming season.
There are some interesting additions to the roster for 2020, with five rookie coaches to the Major League Baseball scene, and four new appointments that are new to the Marlins organization. Team manager Don Mattingly has been retained for a fifth successive season, and will be tasked with trying to breathe new life into the roster against all odds.
There could not be any less expectation on the Marlins’ organization for this coming season. According to Oddschecker’s comparison of teams most likely to win the World Series, Miami are one of four teams (including Baltimore, Detroit and Kansas City) that have the longest odds to win it all.
However, with the shake-up of their coaching staff, the Marlins are certainly doing everything they can to plan for a more positive future. Let’s take a closer look at some of the newest coaching arrivals and their MLB backgrounds.
James Rowson (bench coach)
43-year-old James Rowson held the post of hitting coach at Minnesota for three seasons. In fact, Rowson played a key role in a pretty stellar 2019 season for the Twins, coaching the team to post the highest number of home runs in an MLB season in history (307).
Combine that with the Twins leading the way in RBI (906) and ranking second for total runs (939), batting average (.270), and slugging percentage (.494) and it’s clear to see why the Marlins were so keen to snap him up.
Billy Hatcher (first base and outfield coach)
Billy Hatcher has been well and truly around the block when it comes to coaching professional baseball. As of 2020, the 59-year-old will have racked up a quarter-of-a-century as a professional coach, with 22 years spent in the MLB. Much of that time was spent coaching for the Cincinnati Reds, serving as the club’s first base coach for nine years and the third base coach for another two years.
Hatcher started his professional coaching career at the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and was part of the fabric of the staff when they made their inaugural MLB campaign, before serving for its Major League staff for another eight seasons.
Wellington Cepeda (bullpen coach)
Wellington Cepeda might be considered something of a leftfield pick for the Marlins’ organization. The Dominican Republic native has been heavily involved in the minor league system for the Arizona Diamondbacks over the last 16 years, spanning various team roles including pitching coach and coordinator, as well as manager—last year, Cepeda was in charge of the Diamondbacks’ minor league farm team that played in the Arizona League.
It’s hoped that Cepeda will be working in close quarters with Mel Stottlemyre Jr., with the Marlins registering one of the poorest bullpens in the MLB in 2019.
Eddy Rodriguez (catching coach)
34-year-old Eddy Rodriguez is a Cuban professional baseball coach entering only his second season in the business, and his first on a Major League staff roster. Last year, Rodriguez spent time with the Los Angeles Angels’ minor league team, working as their catching coordinator.
The Marlins have obviously seen something in him to promote him to Major League level as Miami’s dedicated catching coach. Rodriguez is no stranger to Miami, having attended the University of Miami back in 2004-06, prior to a decade playing in the minor leagues himself, even making two MLB appearances for San Diego eight years ago.
It’s also worth noting that Eric Duncan, Trey Hillman, and Mel Stottlemyre Jr. have all been retained on the backroom staff. The latter will remain as the team’s pitching coach, while Hillman has been appointed third base coach and infield instructor after operating as first base coach and infield instructor last season. Duncan, who served as hitting coordinator for the Marlins’ minor league team in 2019, has been promoted to hitting coach.