Jerry Dipoto and the Seattle Mariners announced Wednesday that they had made a somewhat unusual hire to take over as the organization’s new Director of Player Development in tabbing former Colorado Rockies’ Peak Performance Coordinator Andy McKay for the role.
McKay filled that position – in which his responsibility was to create and implement the club’s mental training program – for the past three seasons for Colorado. While there may have been a few more areas of focus pushed in McKay’s direction with Colorado, the position is more commonly referred to as “mental skills coach” throughout the league. Mental skills coach to Director of Player Development is a bit of an unusual path, but McKay doesn’t enter into the position without considerable experience on his résumé.
Prior to joining the Rockies PD staff, Andy scouted from 1994 to 1997 for the White Sox, was a pitching coach in the Cape Cod League in 1996, coached one year in the Alaskan League and five in the Northwoods League and he was also the head coach for 14 years at Sacramento City College starting in 1999.
I haven’t yet had a chance to speak with McKay, but several of the beat writers put pieces together after they did yesterday, and Shannon Drayer did a great job with her’s, providing lots of quotes from McKay. The general tone and overriding theme that he expresses in that piece seems to fall in line with everything that I can find and have read on Andy McKay and the philosophies that he’ll likely try and bring to the Seattle Mariners player development system.
The move to McKay and his philosophies to lead the player development efforts for Seattle seem to speak to a belief by Dipoto and the rest of the decision makers within the organization that the raw talent that was brought into the Mariners’ system under Zduriencik’s regime isn’t the problem, but that the way that the talent was being developed lacked a key ingredient – and perhaps that ingredient is mental.
Aside from the title of his former role and how that plays into the above, at least one of McKay’s front office mates from Colorado thinks that he is more than qualified to fill this key player development position for Seattle, telling me, “Andy has a great passion for the development of players. He is a true baseball guy with a progressive mind. He has studied the mental side of the game, and the on-field aspects as well. He is a great hire for the M’s and Jerry. You will like Andy.”
Seattle has seen a number of highly-regarded prospects come up short of expectations in recent years, and it has been my personal opinion that many times the reasons were more mental than physical. Will this fix all of that in a snap? I’m not sure that’s how it works, or even how McKay envisions it working. But his hiring could lead to a change that enables the M’s to see a better return on their young players and see more “development” come out of their player development efforts.
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