Derek Shelton, the Toronto Blue Jays‘ new quality control coach, will help bring together coaching, metrics and advanced scouting for players on an individual level, he told Sportsnet 590 The FAN Tuesday.
“The game has changed where there’s a lot of information coming in from different areas. I think part of my role will be getting that information and breaking it down so it’s more suitable for the players so it’s an easier conversation,” Shelton told Ben Ennis on the Jeff Blair Show.
Shelton, 46, will fill the spot vacated on John Gibbons’ staff by Eric Owens, the Blue Jays’ former assistant hitting coach who was let go following the 2016 season. This is the first time that the Blue Jays have employed a quality control coach.
“There will be some advanced scouting stuff that goes along not only with Brook [Jacoby] but with Gibby, with DeMarlo [Hale], with Pete [Walker], and essentially the whole staff,” Shelton said.
Part of Shelton’s goal will be to communicate metrics that are specifically “poignant” to Toronto’s players.
Given his experience as a hitting coach, Shelton says he’ll be involved on the offensive side as the Blue Jays look to retool a lineup that could be losing impact bats in Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista, and Michael Saunders. Shelton expressed confidence in veteran hitters like Troy Tulowitzki and Josh Donaldson, but is also optimistic when it comes to Toronto’s pitching.
“If you’re a hitting coach you want to come in here and hit because of the way the ball flies and the atmosphere,” Shelton said. “I think the one thing that has changed, and is changing for the better especially if you’re a Jays’ fan, is the pitching that the Jays have.”
After serving as Cleveland’s minor-league hitting coordinator from 2003 to 2005, Shelton was promoted, becoming the MLB hitting coach until 2009. He then landed with the Tampa Bay Rays as their hitting coach, where he stayed until he was fired in the final month of the 2016 season.
The current Blue Jays’ front office led by Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins worked closely with Shelton in Cleveland. Shapiro was general manager throughout Shelton’s tenure as hitting coach while Atkins rose to director of player development during that time.
Shelton also holds a strong link to Eric Wedge, the former Cleveland manager and current Blue Jays’ player development advisor. The two worked together for five years, including Cleveland’s 96-win season in 2007 where they lost to the Boston Red Sox in Game 7 of the ALCS. Both were let go by Shapiro following a 2009 season in which Cleveland won just 65 games.