The Rays today announced that they have hired Derek Shelton as the team’s new hitting coach. For the last four and a half seasons, Shelton served as the hitting coach for the Indians under Eric Wedge. Shelton replaces Steve Henderson, who was let go earlier this month after four seasons in the position.
Andrew Friedmanon Shleton (via press release):
“Derek has proven himself to be one of the better minds in baseball when it comes to hitting,” Rays Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman said. “He brings a fresh voice that can help our talented core of hitters reach new heights. His attention to detail and ability to communicate will be great additions to our group.”
Joe Maddon on Shelton:
“I believe he is the kind of coach who can create a hitting program that will benefit the organization both at the minor league and major league levels,” said Rays Manager Joe Maddon. “In our conversations, I found that we share the same philosophy on a number of different areas. He was very clear and concise on his intentions and in the end it was an easy decision.”
The quote from Maddon seems telling as Shelton’s job will be just important, if not more so, at the minor league level. Many believe that a hitting coach’s impact at the big league level is minimal. However, the Rays are an organization that believes it is important to instill a philosophy in their players very early on in their development.
Back in September, Let’s Go Tribe took a look at the Indian’s hitting performance under Shelton and had hoped he would be retained even if Wedge was dismissed.
Shelton is the fifth hitting coach in club history joining Henderson (1998, 2006-09), Leon Roberts (1999-2000), Wade Boggs (2001), Milt May (2002) and Lee Elia (2003-05).