Results tagged ‘ Darnell Coles ’

DARNELL COLES NAMED BREWERS HITTING COACH

Today the Brewers named Darnell Coles as hitting coach. Coles, who was signed to a one-year contract, replaces former hitting coach Johnny Narron, who was relieved of his duties on October 10.  The announcement was made by President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Doug Melvin.

“Darnell has an impressive Major League background as a player and coach,” said Melvin.  “With his knowledge of hitting and strength as an instructor, he has the ability to connect with our players, with whom he is quite familiar.”

Coles, 52, returns for his second stint in the Brewers organization, having served as minor league hitting coordinator from 2010-11 and as manager at Double-A Huntsville from 2012-13.  He spent the 2014 season as assistant hitting coach for the Detroit Tigers, his first career coaching position at the Major League level.  The Tigers offense led the Major Leagues in batting average (.277), hits (1,557), RBI (731) and doubles (325) and ranked second (led the American League) in on-base percentage (.331), slugging percentage (.426) and OPS (.757).

Coles began his coaching career in 2000 as minor league hitting coordinator with the Seattle Mariners.  From 2001-06, he served as an analyst for ESPN.  His coaching career resumed in 2006 as minor league roving hitting instructor with the Washington Nationals and followed with roles in the organization as manager at Class-A Vermont (2007) and Class-A Hagerstown (2008) and as hitting coach at Triple-A Syracuse (2009).

Coles played 14 Major League seasons and batted .245 with 75 HR and 368 RBI in 957 games.  The former infielder/outfielder played for Seattle (1983-85, ‘88-90), Detroit (1986-87, ‘90), Pittsburgh (1987-88), San Francisco (1991), Cincinnati (1992), Toronto (1993-94), St. Louis (1995) and Colorado (1997).  He was a member of the 1993 World Series champion Blue Jays.

Coles and his wife, Shari, reside in Tampa, Florida.  They have three children, DeAnna, Darnell Jr. and Jared.

Josh Prince Commands Attention With Strong Offensive Numbers and Defensive Versatility

Ranking second in the league in hitting with a .403 batting average and recording 31 hits in 21 games is cause for notice at the Arizona Fall League.  When combined with playing six different positions in the field, you can make yourself one of the most talked about players in the league.

The Brewers Josh Prince has made the most of his opportunities in the Arizona Fall League in the field and at the plate.

“I’ve played third base, second base, left field, right field and center field ” Prince said of his defensive positions during the Fall League.  “I came up through the organization as a shortstop so I know I can play there as well.  Being versatile is big.  If you look in baseball there are not a lot of players that can play (all those positions).  It really helps my chances of getting there (to the big leagues).”

Josh Prince in the batting cage at the Arizona Fall League

Josh Prince in the batting cage at the Arizona Fall League

The Brewers drafted Prince as a shortstop in the third round of the 2009 First Year Player Draft out of Tulane University.  He first worked with Brewers outfield/baserunning instructor Reggie Williams on proper positioning in Spring Training and continued in the outfield at Double-A Huntsville.  His extended season in Arizona has also given him many opportunities to work on defense.

“He has had a very good year,” said Darnell Coles, Huntsville Stars manager and Phoenix Desert Dogs hitting coach.  “Coming from playing shortstop to the outfield this year is tough.  A lot of it was learning on the spot and he is still learning but he has done a very good job as an outfielder.  Being able to play these positions adds value to our organization and to him as a player.  If a guy gets hurt, you know he can fill in defensively wherever and you don’t have to worry about it.  Plus his bat and base running are great.”

Coles has worked with Prince all year in Huntsville and has help develop his swing to a comfortable point as his offensive numbers show.

“I’ve been working with Darnell on flattening out my swing and giving myself better opportunities to get hits when I am a little tardy or a little early,” Prince said.  “I just want to be able to stay through the ball.  That is the biggest reason why I have had success here.”

Josh Prince sees his ability to run as an important part of his game.

Josh Prince sees his ability to run the bases as an important part of his game.

Brewers President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Doug Melvin also likes what he has seen from Prince at the Arizona Fall League and compared his defensive versatility to that of Jerry Hairston.

“His bat has really taken off this fall,” Melvin said.  “He is a very aggressive baserunner–a high energy guy.  His versatility is going to be his calling card to get to the big leagues.”

Prince hit .251 with seven home runs and 55 RBI during the 2012 regular season at Huntsville with a .346 OBP and .360 slugging percentage.  Both his OBP (.489) and slugging percentage (.588) currently rank in the top four in the Arizona Fall League.

“It’s been awesome out here,” Prince said of his Fall League experience. “The weather is great, the baseball talent here is amazing and we are having fun too.  The coaches are making this fun and enjoyable for us while at the same time teaching us.  I’m happy I am putting up the numbers I am, but I’m constantly working on getting better.”

For Prince that work will continue through the offseason into the winter.

“There is no time for rest,” Prince said.  “I’ll get home, hit the gym and start working out.  With playing in this league, there is not much time for rest.  I have missed some time in the gym and need to make up for that conditioning I have lost to prepare myself for a full season next year.”

Chances are most Brewers fans have not seen the type of game that Prince plays, but he described his play on the field as exciting.

“First and foremost, I want people to know me as a follower of Jesus Christ,” Prince said.  “I know that He is the guy I play for and I want people to remember me for that.  On the field, I want Brewers fans to know me as a guy who is versatile and a guy that can run.  I like to steal bases, I like to try to get on base and score runs for the team.  I feel like I can play anywhere and do a good job at any of those positions.”

With the combination of Prince’s ability to run, his defensive versatility and the offensive numbers he has put up during the Arizona Fall League, Brewers fans might be seeing this exciting player at Miller Park very soon.

Josh Prince can be found on Twitter: @JoshPrince17.

–JOHN 

johnandcait@brewers.com

Khris Davis Looking to Continue to Grow as a Hitter

Despite an early season injury, Khris Davis had a breakout year in 2012.  The Brewers’ 7th round draft pick in the 2009 First Year Player Draft joined Double-A Huntsville after recovering from a calf injury.  With the Stars, he hit .383 with eight home runs and 23 RBI in 44 games.  The injury nagged him throughout the season, but he battled through and earned a promotion to Triple-A Nashville late in the year.

“My season had its ups and downs,” Davis said.  “That is just baseball, it’s a roller coaster ride.  You have to learn to get through it all and I think I did that and performed well.”

With the Sounds, the outfielder hit .310 with four home runs and 24 RBI.  Over his last 45 games of the 2012 season between Huntsville and Nashville, Davis recorded hits in 37 of those games (.365, 60-for-164).

“He’s just gradually gotten better each year,” said Darnell Coles, manager of the Huntsville Stars and hitting coach for the Phoenix Desert Dogs in the Arizona Fall League.  “He is one of the best players in the organization at hitting through the middle.  He got hurt a little bit during the beginning of the year, but came back from that strong.  He didn’t stop hitting in Double-A and moved up to Triple-A where he hit as well.”

Khris Davis

Brewers President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Doug Melvin also had good things to say about Davis’ development.

“He is one of the most disciplined hitters in our organization,” Melvin said.  “He has some good power, too. We haven’t really seen it during the Fall League, but we know it is there.”

Fortunately, Davis has the opportunity to continue to grow as a hitter here at the Arizona Fall League.  Working every day with Coles and playing against top competition for six weeks will certainly benefit Davis’ development.

“I feel like there is always room for improvement when it comes to hitting,” Davis said.  “No one is as good as they want to be.  There is still a lot of work to be done as far as my work and study as a hitter.”

Khris Davis

Currently in the Fall League, Davis is hitting .226 with six RBI.

“I wanted to work on cutting back on my strikeouts and being more aggressive earlier in the counts and not take as many pitches,” Davis said of his goals while at the Arizona Fall League.  “I feel if I get ahead early, it works to my advantage as a hitter.”

Davis, who was drafted out of Cal State-Fullerton, is participating in his first Arizona Fall League, but makes his offseason residence in Phoenix and went to high school in the area at Deer Valley.  He has previously participated in Brewers winter conditioning programs and plans on remaining in the area and working out at the Brewers Maryvale complex before Spring Training.

“The Brewers winter programs have been great for me,” Davis said.  “There is always a lot of one-on-one attention there and that is always good.  To be in front of their eyes working is beneficial to me as a player.”

He doesn’t plan on taking much of a break after the league wraps up next week.

“I want to get in the weight room and work on my strength,” Davis said.  “I don’t want to take too much time off.  We don’t have the luxury to do that as the sport is year-round.  There isn’t much of a break; you need to have a special mindset in the offseason to prepare for the next season.”

Until then, Davis has another week in the Arizona Fall League and another week for some one-on-one coaching with Coles.

“He has got a chance to be a special hitter in the big leagues,” Coles said of Davis.  “For him, it is now just a process of continuing to grow and understand himself as a hitter.”

 –JOHN

johnandcait@brewers.com

Hunter Morris Concludes His Dream Season With Arizona Fall League Invite

Hopefully Hunter Morris has a nice trophy case at home because the list of awards he received in 2012 is quite long.

Southern League Most Valuable Player, Brewers Minor League Player of the Year, Topps Southern League Player of the Year, Rawlings Minor League Gold Glove Award–just to name a few.

It might sound cliché, but Morris credits his on field success this year to old-fashioned hard work.

“It was a long process and a lot of work went into what I accomplished this year,” Morris said.  “I think it was a combination of things as far as success on the field.  I have put in a lot of work defensively and that helped my all-around game, but l certainly didn’t take any days off from working on my offense and maintaining my swing.

The awards were a byproduct of hard work.  There were certainly a lot of guys who were deserving of those awards I received.  I consider myself lucky and fortunate to be on the receiving end of those awards.”

Morris nearly had a Triple Crown as he led the Southern League in home runs (28), RBI (113), hits (158), slugging percentage (.563), total bases (294) and extra-base hits (74).  He finished fourth in the league with a .303 batting average.

“My consistency throughout the year was the biggest blessing I had,” Morris said.  “If something went wrong, I was able to fix it within a few at bats or a game or two.  Keeping those peaks and valleys to a minimum as far as the success and the struggles is important.  I was able to go out and focus on playing hard, rather than over-thinking things.  It was easy to relax and play.”

Hunter Morris bats in today's Arizona Fall League game at Peoria Sports Complex.

Hunter Morris bats in today’s Arizona Fall League game at Peoria Sports Complex.

Not only did Morris turn in stellar numbers at the plate, but his fielding was an important part to his MVP season.  He had a .995 fielding percentage and committed only six errors in 136 games played.

“Hunter has improved a lot defensively,” said Brewers President – Baseball Operations and General Manager, Doug Melvin.  “He looks a lot more fluid out there at first base.  His work with Bob Miscik, our roving infield instructor throughout the year was key and the repetitions he has received at the Fall League will continue to help.  We debated sending Morris to the Fall League because of the season we had, but the competition is good for him and will help him cap off a great year.”

Morris also credits Huntsville Stars Manager Darnell Coles—who is in Arizona serving as Hitting Coach for the Phoenix Desert Dogs—with a lot of extra defensive work this month.

“Working with Darnell has been great,” Morris said.  “He has really worked hard with me on getting better defensively, he has done everything I could have asked of him.  He played some first base in his career, understands the position and helped me out a ton.  My defense can always get better and I want to get better throughout my career.”

Hunter Morris works on fielding with Darnell Coles prior to today's Arizona Fall League game at Peoria Sports Complex.

Hunter Morris works on fielding with Darnell Coles prior to today’s Arizona Fall League game at Peoria Sports Complex.

A unique part of Morris’ dream season was the fact that it took place in his hometown of Huntsville, Ala. often in front of family and friends.

“Having the season I had in front of my family and friends at home certainly made it a little more special,” Morris said.  “Baseball is baseball, you have to go out and play no matter if you are 3,000 miles away from home or in your own backyard like I was, but it was certainly nice to be home with my wife and son every day.

That was a huge blessing for me, but at the same time, it kind of takes away from baseball.  There were days when I was taking my son to doctor’s appointments at 8 a.m. on game day when my teammates were sleeping in.  Fortunately, I was able to put my family first and still have that proper balance of performing well on the field and focusing on baseball.  I loved every minute of being able to spend the season with my family, it was great.”

Entering today in Arizona, Morris was hitting .268 with one home run and six RBI, modest numbers compared to what he put up during the regular season, but Morris has played over 160 games since Spring Training and he is focusing on how to fight through the fatigue of a long season.

“I have struggled a bit at the plate out here, but that is probably a product of having played baseball since February 10th of this year,” Morris said.  “That is also one of the learning curves I need to go through to train myself to get through 162 or 175 games instead of 140 games.  I’m preparing myself to get through longer seasons.  It’s not going to happen overnight, but being here helps me work through struggles.  I’m just trying to build on the season I had, there is not a whole lot I am looking to change from the year.”

Today was Morris' 16th game at first base for the Phoenix Desert Dogs in the Arizona Fall League.

Today was Morris’ 16th game at first base for the Phoenix Desert Dogs in the Arizona Fall League.

This is Morris’ second stint in the Arizona Fall League.  The Brewers drafted him in 2010 and he received an invite from the club to play after his first professional season.

“Certainly a lot more twists and turns a few years ago, but this was my first truly long season that I have had.  Last year and the 2010 season is nowhere near the length of time that I have been playing this year.  It is a great situation for me to come out here and play with a lot of great guys, build relationships, make friends and work on fundamentals.  The experience as a whole, you are getting something out of it no matter how you perform.”

It seems as though Morris will make the move up to Triple-A Nashville from his hometown Huntsville Stars in 2013, but he is not taking anything for granted at this point.

“A lot of that is out of my control,” Morris said.  “I’m going to go home, take a week off, pick up right after Thanksgiving and get in the weight room to work on conditioning.  It will be a short offseason, so I have a lot to accomplish in a short amount of time.  I’d like to be in better shape come Spring Training, which can be a challenge, but I plan on going home, working hard and continuing to build on this season.”

Morris can be found on Twitter @HunterMorris15.

–JOHN

johnandcait@brewers.com

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