With Joe Vavra leaving the Twins to join Ron Gardenhire in Detroit, the Twins are in need of a new bench coach, and according to Paul “Meat Sauce” Lambert, they’ve found one: Derek Shelton. The 47-year-old isn’t a huge name, but then again, how many bench coaches are?
Though he never played in the majors himself, Shelton had a short career as a minor league catcher in the Yankees system, playing in 46 games over 1992 an 1993 before an elbow injury forced him to retire.
His coaching career has been much longer. From 2000 to 2002, Shelton served as a minor league manager in the Yankees organization, helping develop guys like Robinson Cano and Dioner Navarro. In 2003, Shelton joined the Indians organization as their minor league hitting coordinator, and was promoted to major league hitting coach in 2006. In his first year as the major league hitting coach, the Indians finished second in the majors in runs scored.
In 2010, the Rays hired Shelton as their major league hitting coach. He served in Tampa Bay for seven seasons before he was fired, apparently because the organization wanted to go in a new direction.
Last year, Shelton served as the quality control coach for the Toronto Blue Jays. What’s a Quality Control Coach? Well, it’s relatively new, so I wouldn’t blame you for not being familiar with it, not to mention the fact teams have used such coaches in different manners. With the Blue Jays, a lot of Shelton’s job seems to have involved analytics. As Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins explained, “[Shelton will] be impacting not only hitting but collaborating with our defence and pitching and working with our analytics to help our players get better on an individual to individual level.”
Though I’m still getting familiar with who Shelton is, he seems to have a lot of similar qualities as the coaches Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have already hired for the Twins. Past reports stress Shelton’s communication skills, and he’s clearly familiar with analytics. He has experience in the minors helping develop players. At 47 years old, he’s also relatively young like new pitching coach Galvin Alston, 45, and hitting coach James Rowson, 41. Last but not least, of course, Shelton has ties to the Indians organization, where Falvey used to work.
Sounds like a good hire to me, but only time will tell.