Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer has a terrific feature up today focusing on Reds assistant hitting coach Tony Jaramillo. Jaramillo is in his second season as the Reds’ hitting coach and while the team hasn’t been anything to write home about, he has been instrumental in the progression of some of the team’s best players, including Zack Cozart and Billy Hamilton.
To get to where he is now, though, Jaramillo had to overcome tremendous adversity. Like many other families, Jaramillo’s parents were caught up with drugs. His father served a 10-year prison sentence for “knowingly and intentionally distributing approximately 20 ounces of heroin.” His mother served five years for six charges of delivery of a controlled substance and another four years for using a telephone to discuss a future heroin transaction. Fortunately for her, those two sentences ran concurrently.
As a result, Jaramillo went to live with his grandparents but after a year and a half, they moved in with their aunt and uncle. His uncle, Rudy, would soon become a major league hitting coach with the Astros from 1990-93 and most notably with the Rangers from 1995-2009 as well as the Cubs from 2010-12. Tony, who loved to hit as a kid, got the opportunity to not only learn the art of hitting, but got to interact with major league players.
Buchanan describes what it was like for Tony to get his parents back as he began to get attention for his baseball playing skills. His parents pushed him to continue to spend time with Rudy. While Tony got a chance with the Rangers in rookie ball in 1998 and ’99, he didn’t gather much momentum. He played in independent ball for another four years before transitioning into coaching, working his way up from the low levels of the minors into the majors, where he’s flourished. Cozart said of Tony, “He’s just all-in and he loves doing it. I think he’s really good at teaching hitting.”
Check out the whole thing on the Cincinnati Enquirer. It’s worth the time.