James Rowson gets the next crack at developing the Twins’ young and promising hitters and said Friday it “starts with a dialogue and putting together a plan. I’ll be looking forward to the challenge of the players here.”
Rowson, 40, replaced Tom Brunansky as the team’s hitting coach on manager Paul Molitor’s staff after three seasons as minor league hitting coordinator with the Yankees. Rowson was briefly a major league hitting coach for the Cubs in 2012-13.
The Twins have young players in Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton, Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco who are projected to be fixtures in the lineup for a while — should they reach their potential.
“Hitting’s a tricky thing,” Molitor said, “and everyone kind of has their own styles, their own strengths. … I had a really good feel for [Rowson’s] desire to establish relationships and confidence levels with players. It’s about how we can pull some of these things out of these guys to keep them on the fast track.”
Said Rowson: “When you look at the young players, I think I’ve had some success with those guys because you just build relationships with them. As a hitting coach, your job is to get around players, learn what they do well, learn what they think, and have an idea what they think they need to do and move from there.”
The Twins were a middle-of-the-pack power team (12th in home runs, 13th in OPS) but 22nd in on-base percentage. Rowson was on a long list of external candidates compiled by new chief baseball officer Derek Falvey, who said “James clearly separated himself as someone who was important to us.”
“You meet people around the game who you think are impact people,” Falvey said. “I had a chance to meet James a few years ago and get to know him and then hear some things about James from a number of really respected baseball people around the game.”
Rowson said he was eager to move with wife, Maria, and three young daughters to Minnesota and get started in the organization.
“The toughest part is finding what works for every player,” he said. “Some people like to see things, some people like to hear things. You like to find out how each individual works and stick to the key things.”
Rowson had two stints as Yankees minor league hitting coordinator bookending his time with the Cubs. He played four seasons in the minor leagues for the Mariners and Yankees organizations after being drafted as a high school outfielder by Seattle in the ninth round in 1994. The native of Mount Vernon, N.Y., also has been Cubs minor league hitting coordinator and worked in the Angels organization.
Twins tender five players
The Twins on Friday tendered contracts to all five of their arbitration-eligible players: Righthanders Brandon Kintzler, Ryan Pressly and Kyle Gibson, lefthander Hector Santiago and infielder Eduardo Escobar. Righthander Yorman Landa was not tendered a 2017 contract and is a free agent. He was taken off the 40-man roster, giving the Twins 39 players. That allows them to select someone in the December Rule 5 draft — the avenue through which they acquired two-time Cy Young winner Johan Santana in 1999 — if they desire.