Finally, some good news!
Earlier this morning, Dave Williams at Barstool (White Sox Dave) reported that the White Sox would be hiring Ethan Katz to take over as their pitching coach on Tony La Russa’s staff. Bob Nightengale, Scott Merkin, and Jon Heyman all went on to confirm this report.
Who is Ethan Katz?
Katz, 37, is currently the assistant pitching coach for the San Francisco Giants. He was hired in 2019 to be the assistant minor league pitching coordinator for the Giants but was quickly promoted. Before this, he coached in the Seattle Mariners organization, where he was named Coach of the Year in 2016 for his work with the Class A-Advanced team. He has also worked in the Los Angeles Angels organization.
Of course, you likely know him from Lucas Giolito’s story as part of how he became an ace. Indeed, Katz’s first coaching position was as the pitching coach at Harvard-Westlake High School, where he helped coach Max Fried, Lucas Giolito, and Jack Flaherty. Giolito credited Katz with being part of the reason he was able to turn his career around, after working with Katz in the 2018-2019 offseason and developing a new offseason routine. Because of this, it should come as no surprise that Katz was not only highly praised by the Giants organization, but also recommended by Giolito himself.
Why Katz is a Great Hire
Notice this is a much different tune than the one I was singing about La Russa’s hiring. The reality is that if there was a coaching availability that the White Sox needed to nail, it was a pitching coach. The remainder of this core that we either haven’t seen or has struggled is pitching-heavy: Kopech, Cease, Dunning, Lopez, Crochet, just to name a few. The White Sox needed to find a forward-thinking coach who could work directly with Matt Zaleski and his crew to develop a top-to-bottom pitching philosophy for the White Sox. With this hiring, the White Sox have certainly taken the first step towards creating organizational unity.
Farhan Zaidi – the GM of the Giants – has built an incredibly young coaching staff out in San Francisco that has already seen some immediate success in the form of Kevin Gausman. Gausman credited Katz for his revival as a pitcher this year, and when comparing Gausman’s 2019 and 2020 numbers, you can see the difference. The Giants extended Gausman a qualifying offer this year.
This is the sort of hire that not only helps attract players to Chicago but also can help determine what type of pitchers the White Sox might go after on the free-agent market. Look for guys that might have strong underlying metrics (high spin rate, good movement on their pitches) that leads to unlocked potential with a different team.
If you can’t tell, I’m excited about this hire. It represents a step in the right direction for the White Sox in terms of a unified pitching philosophy that incorporates analytics in a digestible and understandable form. In other words, it’s a great distractor from some of the less positive news.
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