Slater Slated For Big Promotion

The New York Yankees organization has been known to skip players a level when their performance or pedigree warrants it.  But after leading the Staten Island Yankees to a 45-28 record and a New York-Penn League championship, it was a coach who’d earned a chance to jump a few rungs of the proverbial ladder at a time.

Tom Slater, who joined the Yankees organization after stints in college baseball with Auburn and VMI was named the Trenton Thunder’s new hitting coach this week, replacing the disgraced and departing Julius Matos, who is no longer believed to be with the organization after a dust-up with manager Tony Franklin during the 2011 season that saw him unceremoniously relieved of his duties.

Slater’s old position has since been filled by former Staten Island coach and Trenton closer Justin Pope, who will also be featured in an upcoming story.

Thunder Thoughts was fortunate enough to catch up with Slater again — I spoke to him last season in Brooklyn on several occasions — and he spoke on a variety of topics.

On how he found out he was getting the job…

“I was talking to Six (Pat Roessler) while I was over in the Arizona Fall League, and he told me that this is what I was going to be doing.  I said, ‘I appreciate it, I’m looking forward to it.’  I have a lot of respect for Tony and Tommy, both.  I’m just looking forward to getting up there in Trenton, it should be a lot of fun.”

On if it will be difficult for him to jump from a level where he was getting players fresh out of high school and college to dealing with more experienced players…

“I’m looking forward to that.  I know a lot of these guys, having seen them come through.  And I know some of the guys that will be there next year as well.  I’m just looking forward to re-connecting with some of those guys from years past.”

On if adjusting from managing to being a hitting coach will be difficult…

“You know, I had a good time being a hitting coach out in the Fall League.  I was out there in Phoenix with a few of our guys; Corban, Seggy (Rob Segedin) and Mustelier, and I certainly enjoyed my time out there.  I’m looking forward to it for sure.”

On if managing is still a goal for him…

“I think that all of us that work in the minor leagues, we’d all love to be in the big leagues.  For me, personally, to coach in the big leagues would be a dream come true.  To me, whether you’re managing or coaching, it doesn’t matter.  Just like the players, I’d love to get there one day.  All of us coaches would.”

On his take on what his approach as a hitting coach will be…

“Well, I think everybody’s different.  Everybody’s a different type of hitter.  But at the same time, there’s some core beliefs obviously that the Yankees have, and our hitting coaches — guys at the upper levels like Butch Wynegar in Triple-A and Kevin Long in the big leagues — there’s some basic things that those guys want for the guys to accomplish.  That’s what we’ll try to do, get the hitters in Double-A to the point where, when they move on, they’ll be at a point where Butch and Kevin are happy with where they’re at.”

On who he thinks would be the first player from his 2011 Staten Island team to reach Trenton…

“The college guys, guys like Branden Pinder, Matt Tracy, Montgomery; who started the year with us, they’re older, so I would expect them to advance quicker just because of their age.  I think when you look at the college arms in our system, the bulk of the guys on that Triple-A staff last year; Phelps, Mitchell, Warren, those guys were all pitching in Staten Island three years ago.  So you see how quick those college arms go through the system.  You talk about the college arms we had there, Mark Montgomery started the year with us and went to Charleston before the year ended, Branden Pinder was with us the whole year.  Matt Tracy.  Those are some college arms that you would expect to get through the system quickly.  That’s not taking anything away from Mason Williams, who was the Player of the Year up there and a tremendous, tremendous player.  You and I talked back in August about him, and I think he’ll move quickly as well, but he’s just a year out of high school.  He’s a 2010 draft pick, so he just  played his first year really in 2011, so I wouldn’t expect him to progress through the system as quickly as some of those college arms, but he’s certainly a guy that I would expect to see moving quickly.”

On his own move from the college ranks to pro baseball several years ago…

“I really enjoy coaching professional baseball, it’s all baseball.  We’re working with the guys every day and we’re out starting in January and they’re out early in Tampa and then spring training and during the season.  It’s just such a joy to be at the baseball field every day.  Here, you really get to coach and you get to spend time with them.  That’s really been exciting for me these last three years.”

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com (Graphic from MILB.com)

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3 Responses to “Slater Slated For Big Promotion”

  1. Peter Lacock Says:

    Slater has his work cut out for him getting Mesa, Mack and Suttle, to name a few, going in the right direction.

    Ronnier Mustelier is a guy that might be in Trenton real soon. Maybe even April 5th.

  2. M. Ashmore Says:

    Don’t feel like Mack belongs in that group. He handled himself quite well up here.

    • Peter Lacock Says:

      Yeah, he shouldn’t be in with the other two. Mack did OK. I guess he should be in the ‘keep going’ in the right direction group rather than the ‘get going’.

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