When Gary Denbo left the Yankees to join Derek Jeter and the Marlins as the director of player development and scouting, it was easy to expect Denbo eventually would bring people who worked with him in the Yankees’ organization to Miami.
That list increased with the recent hirings of Tommy Phelps and Phil Plantier, who would have been the pitching coach and hitting coach, respectively, at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre had the minor league seasons not been canceled this year due to COVID-19.
Phelps, who spent the past 13 years coaching in the Yankees’ minor leagues and was furloughed in early September, will be an assistant pitching coordinator. Scott Aldred, another longtime Yankees minor league pitching coach, is the Marlins’ pitching coordinator. Aldred was hired by Denbo following the 2019 season.
Plantier, who Gio Urshela credited, along with big league hitting coach Marcus Thames, for his transformation from an easy out to a productive major league hitter, would have been in his third year at SWB.
“I am going to learn another side of the business,’’ Phelps said from his Tampa-area home on Friday. “It’s a promotion, more responsibility and a little different challenge. I am excited for the opportunity.’’
Phelps, who pitched for the Marlins and Brewers, lasted a little more than a year after Sam Briend was hired as the Yankees’ pitching director in late June of 2019.
“I don’t know, maybe they didn’t feel what [I] did was good enough,’’ Phelps said of the new regime, which let go Greg Pavlick, a longtime member of the Yankees’ minor league pitching program operation. His last assignment was overseeing the rehab program for pitchers.
“He was good for me, a mentor to all of us young guys,’’ Phelps said of Pavlick, who was the Mets’ pitching coach from 1994-96 and was the bullpen coach in 1986 when the Mets won the World Series.
In addition to Denbo, Aldred and Plantier, the Marlins also employ former Yankees minor league coaches Eric Duncan, James Rowson, Jody Reed, Patrick Osborn and Edwar Gonzalez. Dan Greenlee, who worked under Denbo with the Yankees, is Denbo’s assistant with the Marlins.
Duncan and Rowson were on Don Mattingly’s big league staff this past season. Duncan was the hitting coach and Rowson was the bench coach.
Phelps rejoins the organization with which he broke into the big leagues in 2003 as a pitcher. At the time, the team was known as the Florida Marlins. That year, Phelps appeared in 27 games (seven starts) and went 3-2 with a 4.00 ERA and earned a World Series championship ring for helping the Marlins topple the Yankees.
Phelps pitched two years for the Marlins and one for the Brewers. He finished a professional career pitching for the Yankees’ Triple-A club in Columbus in 2006.
Plantier, a left-handed hitting outfielder, played eight seasons in the big leagues for the Red Sox, Padres (three tours), Astros, Athletics and Cardinals. His best season was 1993, when he hit 34 homers and drove in 100 runs in 138 games. He was the Padres’ major league hitting coach from 2012-14.