From J.P. Hoornstra at the Orange County Register on March 13, 2018:
The Dodgers lost their top two player development executives when Gabe Kapler was hired to manage the Philadelphia Phillies and Jeremy Zoll became the Minnesota Twins’ farm director. It’s tempting to describe last winter as a departmental “overhaul.”
Yet on a recent Tuesday afternoon at Camelback Ranch, a food delivery service truck was parked outside the Dodgers’ minor league offices. The same organic sustenance that arrived with Kapler – a notorious fitness junkie – did not leave. Neither did many of Kapler’s philosophies; Brandon Gomes, the new player development director, is maintaining the mantra of “putting the person first, then the baseball player.”
“I certainly don’t intend to change a whole lot,” Gomes said.
As a player, Gomes spent parts of five seasons (2011-15) pitching for the Tampa Bay Rays. He was signed by the Chicago Cubs in 2016 but was released midway through the season after struggling at Triple-A. A few months later, Gomes joined the Dodgers’ minor league pitching department, which was new at the time.
“Probably my last year in Tampa in 2015, I started to get more interested in analytics and how things ran,” he said. “I was always fascinated by the front office/player development side of things, and later in my career, more so 2015, I got interested in analytics.
“I saw myself in my couple months with the Cubs as, not a player-coach, but kind of understanding that that might have been where I was at in my career. That was a good transition to coming on board on this side of things.”
The player development director’s job came into focus last weekend at the annual SABR Analytics conference in Phoenix. A panel discussion featuring White Sox farm director Chris Getz and his counterpart on the Seattle Mariners, Andy McKay, highlighted the diversity of backgrounds that feed into the position.
Getz played parts of seven seasons in the major leagues (2008-14), then retired to take a position in the Kansas City Royals’ front office. There, he said, he was exposed to the virtues of scouting and analytics, which he said helped prepare him for his current job.
McKay was a community college baseball coach for two decades, then spent three years as the Colorado Rockies’ mental skills director before he was hired by the Mariners. Kapler was a television analyst for Fox Sports before becoming the Dodgers’ farm director.
“You have 30 different farm directors, and they’re all going to do it differently based on their skill sets,” McKay said.
“They’re personality-driven jobs,” Getz added.
Originally published: March 13, 2018. Last Updated: March 13, 2018.