This offseason the Rangers decided to do a little “autumn” cleaning with their coaching staff and replaced their old furniture with new furnishings. In the past week, the Rangers hired a new hitting coach, Luis Ortiz, and a new pitching coach, Julio Rangel. Ortiz takes over after Anthony Iapoce accepted a deal with the Cubs and the Rangers hired Rangel after Doug Brocail was let go. Rangers fans are most likely not familiar with these two names as most of their experience comes in the minors. Let’s take a look at these two hires.
The Boston Red Sox drafted Luis Ortiz in the eighth round of the 1991 June Amateur Draft. He made his big league debut against the Rangers on August 31, 1993, at Fenway Park (Juan Gonzalez hit his 40th homer of the season that day off Roger Clemens). Ortiz spent four years in the big leagues. His first two seasons (1993 and 1994) were with the Red Sox. On December 9th, 1994 Boston dealt Ortiz to the Rangers with Otis Nixon for Jose Canseco, then he spent his last two years in a Rangers uniform. Luis Ortiz had only one season where he had more than 28 plate appearances, 1995 with the Rangers. Due to injuries, Ortiz’s big league career ended in 1996. Luis Ortiz graduated from Union University and became the first ever Dominican born Major Leaguer to graduate from college.
In 2018, the Dodgers hired Ortiz as an assistant hitting coach working with Turner Ward. Before his time with Los Angeles, Ortiz spent the last three seasons in the Padres minor league organization as the field and hitting coordinator. In the latter end of the 2017 season, the Padres promoted Ortiz to their hitting coach. There was an excellent interview of Ortiz in late September of 2017 by Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Tribune. In that interview, Luis interjects in teaching young players on-base percentage. He states that you have to understand yourself as a hitter and adapting the generic art of approach to fit your style as a hitter. He also speaks highly on selectiveness and pitch recognition, if that does not work then you won’t be successful.
Julio Rangel spent seven of his eight years of pitching in the minor leagues (1994-2000). He pitched two and half years in rookie ball, three seasons in Class A advanced, two years in Class A, and one year in Double-A. Overall in his seven minor league seasons, Rangel posted a 3.66 ERA in 498 innings pitched with four complete games. All of the teams Rangel played for were New York Yankees organization affiliates. In addition, Julio pitched two innings in an independent league (Northern League East) for the Berkshire Black Bears in 2002. Rangel never pitched in AAA nor the major leagues in his career.
In 2007, the Cleveland Indians organization hired Rangel specializing in mental skills and cultural development, especially with the Latin players. Next, he moved on in the organization to pitching coordinator and finally assistant field coordinator. In 2018, Rangel went from the Indians organization to the San Francisco Giants as a pitching coordinator. Don’t be fooled by the lack of big league experience for Rangel. Jon Daniels raved about his ability to combine his “old school” to his use of advanced data and technology and use that to players from all different backgrounds.
There’s no question the Rangers are in a spot of a rebuild. The idea of this organization is bringing in younger coaches to match the changes this game has made. In addition, they are adding to the cultural diversity the game has brought. The positive outlook is that this coaching staff is determined to bring out the best in all of its players. The Rangers roster is a talented bunch, and it will be interesting to watch this staff let these players shine in 2019.
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