The Phillies, Joe Girardi said, will make the hiring of their new pitching coach “a collective thing” as it will be a group decision to find a replacement for the retired Bryan Price.
“We’ll talk and solicit other opinions,” Girardi said Sunday.
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On Monday the Phillies received the opinion of Bryce Harper, who threw his support behind Vanderbilt’s Scott Brown to be the next Phillies pitching coach. Harper’s voice carries weight around Citizens Bank Park, so it is safe to assume the sentiment he shared about Brown did not go unnoticed as the Phillies begin their search
“Scott Brown you up,” Harper posted on his Instagram account before saying he would miss Price, who retired Sunday afternoon.
The Phillies are looking for a coach who can embrace new-age technology and analytics while also being able to communicate with pitchers. Brown, who has spent eight seasons at Vanderbilt, would fit that mold.
The Commodores are one of college baseball’s premier programs and also one of the most technologically advanced. The Vanderbilt pitchers train with the same technology as major-league pitchers, including high-speed cameras, pitch-tracking devices, and heavy balls. They’ve worked with Driveline Baseball, the data-driven player development program based in Seattle.
Brown, like Price did with the Phillies, has shown an ability to embrace analytics while still maintaining a foundation of traditional teaching. He’s been able to balance the art and the science of coaching.
Brown’s teaching has led to success as he consistently oversees a pitching staff that ranks among the nation’s best. Brown has helped the Commodores win two national titles. Thirty of his pitchers have been drafted, and the Commodores have led the nation in strikeouts (4,546) since he was hired in 2012. Last season, Vanderbilt led the nation in ERA (1.84) and was fourth in strikeouts per nine innings (12.1).
“He has to be able to mechanically help a pitcher achieve consistency, recognize quickly when something gets out of whack, and help them get back on track quickly,” Girardi said of the team’s next pitching coach. “Hitters and pitchers both get out of whack at times. You have to understand what gets guys back on track.”
Girardi said he was surprised Sunday afternoon when Price told him he was retiring. Price completed just one year of a three-year contract, but he said that being isolated from his family during the pandemic and the uncertainty of what the coming seasons will look like made him walk away.
“We were all shocked because he fit in so well,” Girardi said. “He decided it was time. You never know what’s in someone’s heart. He was great to work with. Great attitude. The pitchers loved him. He connected with them extremely well. They don’t get any better than Bryan.”
The Phillies could replace Price internally with assistant pitching coach Dave Lundquist, bullpen coach Jim Gott, or minor-league pitching coordinator Rafael Chavez. Yankees bullpen coach Mike Harkey is close with Girardi and could be a candidate. Former Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee is said to be interested in the job.