The Pirates released their list of minor league managers and coaches a few minutes ago, and you can check the rundown here. One of the first things I checked when I got the list was the assignment for pitching coach Justin Meccage, who has been with Altoona and Bradenton the last few years. Meccage didn’t show up on the list of coaches, and I found out that he was promoted to the Minor League Pitching Coordinator role.
That led a new search to find out where Scott Mitchell, the former Minor League Pitching Coordinator, had moved. Mitchell is now the Senior Pitching Coordinator, which is a new position in the system. It seems that Mitchell is still the top guy, with Meccage as his number two in a coordinator role, although full details of the assignment aren’t known yet.
This isn’t a big change from how things normally work though. If you’ve been following my writing about these two over the last few years, especially after the Pirates lost Jim Benedict, then you’d know that Mitchell and Meccage are two of the more promising pitching coaches in the system. In my observations, Meccage has been Mitchell’s go-to guy the last few years, and has played a key role in the system. Meccage was the pitching coach for Tyler Glasnow in 2014 in Bradenton. The two moved up together in 2015 to Altoona. He also went to represent the Pirates in the Arizona Fall League that year, coaching guys like Steven Brault and Trevor Williams. And now, he’s freed from a coaching position, and can work with Mitchell throughout the entire organization.
It’s not just my opinion and observation that Mitchell and Meccage are two guys with bright futures. Here was a comment during Spring Training from Clint Hurdle on how the Pirates could replace Jim Benedict:
“It’s almost like a mentality of what we have from the position player pool and the pitching pool, next man up,” Hurdle said of replacing Benedict’s impact. “Justin Meccage has every skill to become a very good Major League pitching coach. Scott Mitchell has put himself in a position to be a very good Major League pitching coach. The seamlessness we have of our coaching and teaching abilities, wherever our players go, it’s so like-minded. It’s the Pirate way. It’s not Ray’s way. It’s not Mitch’s way. We’re all actually connected to it. And the player actually has ownership of it as well. And I think the refreshing thing for them is when they move, there’s not a different pitching coach philosophy, or a different pitching philosophy.”
Searage and Benedict get a lot of credit for the work the Pirates have done with their pitching, both in the majors and minors. That credit is deserved. But there have also been countless times when Mitchell and Meccage have been involved in making positive strides for prospects. As one example, Jameson Taillon made some big strides in his Tommy John recovery, and has credited working with Mitchell frequently during the 2015 season as something that helped him.
If the Pirates do end up keeping Tyler Glasnow, then it would be a good approach to get him working 1-on-1 with Meccage, since he seemed to work best in his two years with Meccage as his pitching coach. This relationship led the Pirates to send Glasnow to rehab in Altoona with Meccage this summer, hoping to get the top prospect back on track.
Without knowing the full details of the assignments, it seems that Mitchell’s role won’t change as much, except that he now has a number two pitching coordinator. And Meccage goes from a guy who helped out in that type of role in camp situations (Spring Training, instructs) to a guy who can help in that role all year, and go where he is most needed.
It’s always a good sign to see promising coaches moving up in the system, and remaining in the system, and that is what happened here with these moves.
Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.