Preston Mattingly spent his teenage summers at Yankee Stadium when his father returned to coaching under Joe Torre on staffs that included seasoned baseball men like Larry Bowa, Joe Girardi, and Mel Stottlemyre.
Don Mattingly, his father, was one of baseball’s biggest stars of the 1980s and Preston Mattingly said he was able “to experience all different walks of baseball life.”
He was a first-round pick in 2006 and played six minor-league seasons. Preston Mattingly left baseball, went to college, earned a degree in corporate communications, and has spent five seasons in a scouting role with the Padres.
And it was that background — from the dugouts in the Bronx to the bus trips in the minors to a 27-year-old Division I college basketball player to a key role of finding and bringing advanced information to major-league players and coaches — that made the Phillies think he was the right voice to unify their minor-league system as the team’s new director of player development.
The farm system has failed to produce enough talented players to fill the big-league roster and has met dysfunction in recent seasons when traditional instructors felt that the system was moving too far to the left.
To have everyone on the same page, Mattingly said, is a challenge every organization faces. But he is confident he can solve the Phils’ dilemma.
“I think it has to be a blend,” said Mattingly, 34. “I think there’s a lot of youth who have a lot of knowledge and there’s a lot of veteran baseball people who have the same thing. The experience, the way they saw the game, the way they played the game. I would love to blend those two together.
“In terms of butting heads in the organization, old school, new school, I only believe in one school and that’s the Phillies. That’s the way we’re going to do it going forward. We’re going to do what the Phillies are about, and it’s not going to be what the old school people are about or what the new school people are about. It’s the Phillies way going forward.”
Mattingly spent last season as San Diego’s coordinator of major league advance scouting and game planning.
He worked with pitching coach Larry Rothschild and directly with pitchers like Yu Darvish, Joe Musgrove, and Blake Snell to go over each night’s game plan and brought information from the R&D department to the clubhouse.
It was Mattingly’s job in San Diego to be the bridge between the players and coaches and the analytics department. He was able to blend old school with new school.
“There has to be a consistent message throughout,” Mattingly said. “ …We’re all in this together and building towards the same goal to help young men achieve their goals and help our major-league team win games and win a championship.”
When the Phillies reassigned Josh Bonifay in August as director of player development, team president Dave Dombrowski said that the Phillies didn’t “have enough people on the same page” and that it was “imperative that if we’re going to be as good as we can be that you buy into the way we do it or not be here.”
The Phillies, after years of neglecting analytics, tried to play catch-up but likely moved too fast in their implementation of that instruction and use of advanced information in the minors. They had top-10 picks for five straight years, but the 2014-2018 drafts have produced just two players — Aaron Nola and Rhys Hoskins — who have been worth more than two Wins Above Replacement.
The Phillies certainly will not be discard analytics and new-school teaching — it’s an essential element in the game — but they will try to move toward the center.
“It’s challenging,” general manager Sam Fuld said in September of finding a balance. “Certainly on paper, who recognizes the importance of executing a plan like that and it can be a little more challenging in practice. But that’s why we focused on Preston and why we’re excited about him as an individual and having the ability to connect and empathize with others who have different backgrounds and thought processes and where they’re coming from. Including a diverse set of thoughts is a very important part of this job. I think he’ll accomplish it very well.”
The Phillies hired Anthony Contreras as their new triple-A manager. Contreras, 38, has managed in San Diego’s minor-league system since 2014 and is currently managing the Phillies’ prospects in the Arizona Fall League. … The Phillies are interviewing for their field coordinator position, which is the highest-ranking minor-league job below Mattingly. … Minor-league hitting coordinator Jason Ochart and pitching coordinator Travis Hergert will return in 2022.