The Miami Marlins are close to hiring Jim Benedict as their new Vice President of pitching, according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.
— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) October 23, 2015
Obviously this isn’t finalized yet, but if it goes through, it would be a huge loss for the Pirates. The new trend among baseball front offices is creative job titles. Benedict currently serves as a Special Assistant to General Manager Neal Huntington. He spends his time working with pitching projects, mostly focusing on upper level and MLB guys these days. During the season he also does advance scouting for the Pirates, going on the road and seeing opposing teams right before the Pirates are about to face those teams.
As I said, this would be a huge loss for the Pirates, as Benedict has been essential to their success with reclamation pitching projects. From day one, he spent time working with Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon on their deliveries. Both pitchers had plus-plus fastball velocity, but were extremely too hittable due to a lack of movement and deception on their pitches. Cole eventually started throwing down in the zone and with more of an angle, and Taillon did the same, with a very detailed breakdown of that process here (including quotes from Benedict and Taillon).
Benedict totally rebuilt Charlie Morton’s mechanics to mimic Roy Halladay’s delivery in 2011. Morton had a 5.98 ERA and a 4.53 xFIP in 251.1 innings before the transformation. Since the change, he has a 3.96 ERA and a 3.89 xFIP in 624.1 innings.
This year, Benedict worked with Clayton Richard in extended Spring Training, rebuilding his mechanics in an amazing way by using his old football throwing motion from his days as a quarterback at Michigan. He also rebuilt the mechanics of Vance Worley last year to get him back to the majors. In both cases, the players had major injuries that led to negative changes in their mechanics.
This would essentially be like losing Ray Searage, as both are pitching gurus who have led to the Pirates getting a lot of value from their reclamation projects the last few years.
UPDATE: It sounds like the move is official, according to Joe Frisaro of MLB.com.
#Marlins name Jim Benedict Vice President, Pitching.. FYI, this is a huge pickup for Mia
— Joe Frisaro (@JoeFrisaro) October 23, 2015
UPDATE 7:45 PM: Neal Huntington commented on Benedict’s departure after the move became official.
“We wish Jim success in his future endeavors and thank him for his sizeable impact on the Pirates. Our goal is to help each member of the Pirates’ organization reach their personal and professional goals and sometimes that means people will leave the organization in pursuit of those individual ambitions.
Jim has impacted our pitching program and has helped many of our pitchers and pitching coaches develop. We are fortunate to have several quality pitching instructors within our organization and we look forward to their continued growth and increased positive impact as new opportunities arise from this change.”