Astros, Orioles focus on pitching development with new hires

dan duquette buck showalter

While watching two organizations that pride themselves on development and managers and pitching coaches who built superb and flexible staffs, two hirings went under the radar.

The first was Houston’s hiring of Brent Strom, the St. Louis minor league pitching coordinator who has had such a vital hand in the development of an astoundingly deep staff of young power arms, from Michael Wacha to Joe Kelly to Trevor Rosenthal and Carlos Martinez. “Brent is really smart, and really good, and it’s a big loss for us,” says one Cardinal minor league coach. As the Astros build young power arms from the draft and the astute development deals pulled off before Jeff Luhnow by Ed Wade, Strom has impressed everyone by explaining how he pulled the Cardinals’ arms off the two seam, sinker/slider mentality to emphasis on the four-seam power fastball and location.

The second was Baltimore’s hiring of Dave Wallace. “This is a big loss for us,” says one Braves official. “Dave is really good, and had a big hand in our pitching development.” Not only did the Braves build much of their first place season around young arms like Mike Minor, Kris Medlen, Julio Teheran, Alex Wood, Luis Avilan and the great Craig Kimbrel, but their system has another wave on the horizon, like Lucas Sims, J.R. Graham, David Hale and Sean Gilmartin.

There has been speculation that Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell could leave for Philadelphia, which would be another blow to a team built on pitching.