Kent Willis, the Braves' pitching coach last season in Double-A Mississippi, has been named the Braves' new minor league pitching coordinator. Willis replaces Bill Fischer, who left last month to join the Kansas City Royals' organization in a similar capacity.
Next season will be Willis' 12th season as a coach in the Braves' organization. He pitched in the minor leagues for four years with the Reds, Royals, and Expos before joining the Braves as a coach in 1996.
Willis coached in the rookie leagues for three seasons before moving up to coach in the South Atlantic League. Willis was in Macon for four seasons before the Braves moved that franchise to Rome, where he would help that first club in 2003 win the Sally League title. He's spent the past two seasons in Mississippi.
Chuck James, Kyle Davies, Macay McBride, Joey Devine, and Blaine Boyer are five of the pitchers on the Atlanta pitching staff that were greatly helped by Willis. While Willis is talented enough to coach in the higher levels, his success at teaching the younger pitchers how to pitch was a big reason the Braves gave him this critical job.
Willis will now set some pitching philosophy throughout the entire organization, working with the other pitching coaches at the individual clubs to help in the development of the players. He'll also act as a roving pitching instructor and visit with all the minor league clubs during the season. In spring training, Willis will help in the pitching programs that will prepare the young prospects for the season.
Fischer accepted an offer from Dayton Moore, his former boss with the Braves, to join the Royals. Fischer, who is 76 years old, will be closer to his home in Iowa working with the Royals, who have many of their minor league affiliates in the midwest.
Many in the Braves' front office believe that Willis will one day be a major league pitching coach, but for now he'll be helping in the development of the young pitching prospects.
The Braves are expected to announce their minor league coaching staffs next week.
Bill Shanks is the author of Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team, a look inside the Braves‘ traditional scouting and player development philosophies. He can also be heard regularly on the Braves Radio Network. Email Bill at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Braves name Kent Willis pitching coordinator
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