(PHOENIX) -- The Arizona Diamondbacks announced today that A.J. Hinch has been named the club's fifth manager in the organization's 12-year history, according to Executive Vice President and General Manager Josh Byrnes. The D-backs' also named Jack Howell as hitting coach and Mel Stottlemyre, Jr. as pitching coach.
Hinch, at age 34 years and 357 days, becomes the youngest person to be named manager of a major league team since Eric Wedge (34 years, 275 days) was appointed manager of the Cleveland Indians on Oct. 29, 2002. He was in his fourth season leading the organization's player development efforts and was promoted to Vice President, Player Development earlier this year. Hinch oversaw all aspects of the D-backs' minor league system, including coordination of instruction, signing of free agents, staffing, budgets, player movement, affiliate relationships and Latin America field operations. Under his direction, the D-backs' minor league system has produced key contributors such as Stephen Drew, Micah Owings, Tony Pena, Mark Reynolds, Justin Upton, and Chris Young.
"This obviously is an unconventional hire," Byrnes said. "AJ's leadership qualities, understanding of player development and organizational perspective are all key factors in his appointment. I am confident that he will set high standards and instill a spirit of collaboration in his new position."
Hinch was drafted by the Oakland Athletics in the third round of the 1996 First-Year Player Draft following a decorated career at Stanford University, which included four years as an All-American catcher and participation in the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. He made his major league debut with the Athletics in 1998 and also played parts of seven major league seasons (1998-2004) as a catcher with the Kansas City Royals, Detroit Tigers and Philadelphia Phillies. Hinch appeared in a total of 350 big league games, compiling a batting average of .219 with 32 home runs, 112 RBI, and a fielding percentage of .987 as a catcher.
Hinch joins a list of 12 current major league managers that were catchers while playing professional baseball, including Bruce Bochy (Giants), Clint Hurdle (Rockies), Bob Geren (A's), Joe Girardi (Yankees), Fredi Gonzalez (Marlins), Jim Leyland (Tigers), Joe Maddon (Rays), Mike Scioscia (Angels), Joe Torre (Dodgers), Don Wakamatsu (Mariners), and Eric Wedge (Indians).
"I like to hit-and-run, put pressure on the defense," Hinch said of
his managerial style. "I'm an aggressive guy but, although I'll take risks, not
reckless. You have to respond to the strengths and weaknesses of the club."
Howell is in his eighth season in the D-backs organization and fifth as the minor league field coordinator. He was also the organizational hitting coordinator in 2004 after serving as the hitting coach at Tucson (AAA) in 2003 and manager at rookie-level Missoula in 2002, where he led the Osprey to a 35-41 record. Howell, 47, batted .239 with 108 homers and 337 RBI in 941 games during his 11-year major league career (1985-99) with the California/Anaheim Angels, San Diego Padres, and Houston Astros.
"It's not about fixing things," Howell said Friday. "I'll start
slow and do anything I can to help these players reach their potential. I'll try
to prepare them for any situation. As a Minor League coordinator, my style was
always to help people become complete players. That'll continue to be the
Stottlemyre is in his eighth season in the D-backs organization and third as the minor league pitching coordinator. He was also the pitching coach at rookie-level Missoula from 2005-06, El Paso (AA) in 2004, Lancaster (A) in 2003 and short-season Yakima in 2002. Stottlemyre, 45, went 0-1 with a 4.88 ERA in 13 games for the Kansas City Royals in 1990 and also played parts of eight minor league seasons in the Houston Astros, Royals, and New York Mets organizations.
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