The Minnesota Twins next season will have their fourth bench coach in as many seasons and third hitting coach as Rocco Baldelli will begin his fourth season as manager in 2022.
Kevin Morgan, who joined the staff during spring training after the death of bench coach Mike Bell in February, will be reassigned, the team announced last week. Also reassigned is hitting coach Edgar Varela, who was hired in 2019 after James Rowson, the club’s first Black hitting coach, was hired by Florida.
Morgan and Varela’s new duties are still to be determined. President of Basketball Operations Derek Falvey told reporters during an Oct. 6 Zoom media call that included the MSR, “These guys are going to be key leaders in our organization [and] will help us going forward,” said Falvey.
Added Baldelli, “Both Kevin and Edgar are pretty incredible members of our group. Kevin has been a player development man… I think that he handled his duties tremendously. He was prepared. He did a lot of different things.”
Morgan this season joined Tommy Watkins as the club’s only Black coaches. The former has over two decades of baseball experience, but mostly in the minor leagues.
At present, Watkins and the remaining coaches will return next season, said Baldelli and Falvey, who later took questions for almost 30 minutes. The MSR asked Baldelli if diversity will be a top consideration in his next hire.
“When we compile our thoughts and our lists for all of our hires,” responded the manager, “I’ll be very honest with you—I look for the best possible hires that we can make to improve our organization.”
Baldelli was also asked about rookie Nick Gordon, who joined the club mid-season as only the second U.S.-born Black player on the Twins. “I can tell you that Nick Gordon has made a tremendous impression on me and on our staff,” the manager told the MSR about the rookie’s prospects for making the 2023 final roster next spring.
Gordon had a great September, hitting over .360 and 13 RBI.
“I think his resiliency, his work ethic, his willingness to get into an uncomfortable spot and go into parts of the game… That when he showed up, he had the willingness to do things, like experiment at different positions that he’s never played at in games, never worked at or practiced that in his life,” continued Baldelli on Gordon.
Gordon is a natural infielder who, along with playing second base and shortstop, also for the first time played all three outfield positions. “He brought a ton of positive energy to our group,” said Baldelli. “His ability to grow is a big strength.”
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.