Brewers’ Sara Goodrum 1st female minor league hitting coordinator

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MILWAUKEE — Sara Goodrum has been promoted to minor league hitting coordinator by the Milwaukee Brewers, apparently making her the first woman to have that role in any Major League Baseball organization.

Goodrum’s official new title with the Brewers is coordinator for hitting development initiatives, but she essentially will be filling the role of a minor league hitting coordinator. Brewers vice president of minor league operations Tom Flanagan said Thursday that “to our knowledge, she would be the first” woman to hold that position in an MLB organization.

“Especially with the players who are coming up now, they don’t care if you’re a man or a woman,” Goodrum said Thursday. “If you can provide them with information and guidance that’s going to help them accomplish their dream of making it to the big leagues, they don’t care.”

Goodrum, 27, has been working in this role since October. The Brewers officially announced the promotion Thursday as they released the names and positions of their entire 2021 player development staff.

She had spent the last three seasons in the Brewers’ sports science department, working primarily on hitting. Her previous title was coordinator for integrative sports performance.

“Being able to observe her working around our hitters, it’s not like she’s coming in from some other department where she had no other interaction with our player development staff,” Flanagan said. “She’s been right there, kind of in the forefront, working with our hitters to some degree on different aspects in the past. ”

“And I think her skill set is very unique,” Flanagan added. “It gives her a very different perspective in terms of different training techniques she probably has a lot of experience with that she feels she can implement and help re-establish our hitting curriculum and help our hitters train better and be better throughout our system. Just seeing her work from afar, all of our hitting coaches and player development staff definitely have that familiarity and think that she can really impact the hitting apparatus here.”

Goodrum played softball for Oregon from 2012-15 and also spent that time working as an undergraduate research assistant at the Bowerman Sports Science Clinic. Texas softball coach Mike White, who coached Goodrum at Oregon, described her as someone “who put the team before herself” and added that “you could always see that she was studying and learning.”

During those years at Oregon, the life-long baseball fan started to realize she could have a career in the sport.

“I feel at home when I’m on a baseball field,” Goodrum said. “It brings so much joy to me.”

She earned a master’s degree in exercise and sports science rom Utah and began interning with the Brewers in April 2017. She became the Brewers’ coordinator for integrative sports performance in November 2017.

Now she’s making history in her new role. Goodrum said she has a “tremendous amount of gratitude” toward the Brewers organization” and that “they’ve been nothing but supportive of what I’ve been trying to do professionally.”

Goodrum has said her belief in herself enables her to deal with the challenges and uncertainty that come with every new situation.

“For me, the feeling of doubt and that feeling of being a little bit uncomfortable is something I really honestly embrace,” Goodrum said. “I think the day I realize I’m not uncomfortable in what I’m doing, I’m not growing.”

Goodrum will be based in Phoenix, where the Brewers have their spring training home. She’s the latest woman to move into a groundbreaking role.

The Miami Marlins hired Kim Ng as general manager last November, making her MLB’s highest-ranked woman in baseball operations. The Marlins believe Ng is the first female GM in the four major North American professional sports leagues.

The New York Yankees hired Rachel Balkovec as a minor league hitting coach in 2019, and she is believed to be the first woman hitting coach employed by an MLB organization. Last year, the San Francisco Giants made Alyssa Nakken the first female coach on a major league staff. Bianca Smith begins working as a Boston Red Sox minor league coach this season, making her the first Black woman to serve as an on-field coach.

Nakken is a former Sacramento State softball player who joined the Giants organization in 2014 as an intern in baseball operations. Balkovec had previously worked as a St. Louis Cardinals minor league strength and conditioning coordinator and with the Houston Astros as a Latin American strength and conditioning coordinator. Smith played softball for two years as well as club baseball at Dartmouth and also was an assistant athletic director in charge of compliance at Division III Carroll University in Wisconsin, where she also worked as a hitting coordinator and volunteer assistant coach.

Brown hired as general manager of Houston Astros

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HOUSTON — In joining the World Series champion Houston Astros, new general manager Dana Brown’s goal is to keep the team at the top of the league.

“I’m coming to a winning team and a big part of what I want to do is sustain the winning long term,” he said. “We want to continue to build, continue to sign good players, continue to develop players and continue the winning success.”

Brown was hired by the Astros on Thursday, replacing James Click, who was not given a new contract and parted ways with the Astros just days after they won the World Series.

Brown spent the last four seasons as the vice president of scouting for the Atlanta Braves.

“He is very analytic savvy,” Astros’ owner Jim Crane said. “He’s a great talent evaluator based upon what we’ve seen at the Braves, seasoned at player acquisitions, seasoned at player development and retention. They were often able to extend some of their player contracts… he’s got great people skills, excellent communicator and, last but not least, he’s a baseball player and knows baseball in and out and we were very impressed with that.”

The 55-year-old Brown becomes the only Black general manager in the majors and joins manager Dusty Baker to form just the second pairing of a Black manager and general manager in MLB history. The first was general manager Ken Williams and manager Jerry Manuel with the White Sox.

Brown said he interviewed for GM jobs with the Mets and Mariners in the past and that MLB commissioner Rob Manfred told him to stay positive and that his time to be a general manager would come.

“It’s pretty special,” he said. “We understand that there are a lot of qualified African Americans in the game that know baseball and that could be a big part of an organization and leading organization in baseball operations. So at the end of the day, I think it’s good for our sport to have diversity and I’m really excited for this opportunity.”

Crane was asked about having the league’s only Black general manager.

“Certainly, we are very focused on diversity with the Astros,” he said. “It’s a plus, but the guy’s extremely qualified and he’ll do a great job. It’s nice to see a man like Dana get the job and he earned the job. He’s got the qualifications. He’s ready to go.”

Brown doesn’t have a lot of connections to the Astros, but does have some ties. He played baseball at Seton Hall with Hall of Famer Craig Biggio, who spent his entire career with the Astros and serves as special assistant to the general manager. He played against fellow Hall of Famer and special assistant to the general manager Jeff Bagwell in the Cape Cod league during a short minor league career.

Brown said he spoke to both of them before taking the job and also chatted with Baker, whom he’s know for some time.

“Dusty is old school, he cuts it straight and I like it,” Brown said. “And so that means I can cut it straight with him.”

Brown worked for the Blue Jays from 2010-18 as a special assistant to the general manager. From 2001-09 he worked as director of scouting for the Nationals/Expos. He began his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates, where he spent eight years as their area scouting supervisor and East coast cross checker.

Click had served as Houston’s general manager since joining the team before the 2020 season from the Tampa Bay Rays.

Brown, who has been part of drafting a number of big-name players like Stephen Strasburg, Ryan Zimmerman and last season’s National League rookie of the year Michael Harris, is ready to show Crane that bringing him to Houston was the right choice.

“Baseball is all I know, it’s my entire life,” he said. “So I want to empty myself into this city, the Astro fans and let Jim Crane know that he made a special pick.”