Yankees coaching carousel finally comes to a stop

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 22: Marcus Thames
ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 22: Marcus Thames /

As a wild offseason winds down to a close, the Yankees completed the last few coaching changes across the organization.

For the third time in the last three years, the Yankees will have duel hitting coaches as Marcus Thames will return to the same role he’s held since 2016. However, this time around, Thames will be joined by PJ Pilittere.

For those of you unfamiliar with Pilittere’s resume, he’s a 36-year-old former career minor leaguer. Drafted by the only organization he’s ever known (the Yankees) in the 13th round of the 2004 Amateur Draft, Pilittere was a catcher that rose as high as Triple-A before retiring at the end of the 2011 season.

One season later, Pilittere began his new career as a hitting coach. First in the Gulf Coast League, followed by successive promotions to Low-A Charleston and High-A Tampa.

Pilittere then spent 2015-16 at Double-A Trenton before again moving up the ladder to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last season.

Under the guidance of Pilittere in ’17, the RailRiders led the International League in batting average, runs scored, home runs, RBI and total bases.

During his time in the minors, Pilittere has received rave reviews from some of the Yanks’ top prospects turned big league stars, namely Aaron Judge and Greg Bird.

Clint Frazier spoke to the Times Leader last summer, crediting Pilittere with adjusting his swing during their time together.

"“I didn’t really stand on my legs a lot last year and I think that the two hamstring pulls in my right leg were to blame for me using my lower half as much as I could, so he’s really helped me build a firm foundation from the ground up,” Frazier said this past season."

Piltierre, who also worked with Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar in Scranton, takes over the role Alan Cockrell held since 2016.

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Since the Yankees first began this co-hitting coach experiment two season’s ago, I’ve been curious as to why. Don’t get me wrong, it seemed to help the Bombers’ offense (at times) in ’17, but with 12 offensive players, as compared to 13 pitchers on the traditional 25-man roster, why not have two pitching coaches?

In other coaching news, former 18-year big league veteran Jay Bell has been tabbed to replace Bobby Mitchell as manager of the Double-A Trenton Thunder.

Mitchell was promoted to manage Triple-A Scranton, following the departure of Al Pedrique to the Oakland A’s as their first base coach.

After one year at High-A Tampa, in which Bell was named Florida State League Manager of the Year following an 85-50 record — and winning both halves of the season, Bell managed the Yankees’ Arizona Fall League team.

Getting first-hand experience working with the likes of Justus Sheffield, Estevan Florial, Billy McKinney and Kyle Holder will go a long way towards duplicating the type of success Bobby Mitchell had in Trenton.

Next: Yankees state of the system: Second Base

The Thunder are coming off of consecutive Eastern League Championship Series appearances.