Friday, January 6, 2017

Ware Named Minor League Pitching Coordinator

   At the end of the winter meetings last month, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet mentioned that the Blue Jays have filled their vacant minor league pitching coordinator position with Jeff Ware, who has served as Lansing's pitching coach the past two seasons.

   Ware was drafted by the Blue Jays in the 1st round in 1991, but shoulder injuries derailed his career.  He did pitch in 38 games for the team from 1995-96.  He began his coaching career with the Yankees in 2001 before joining the Blue Jays and serving as Vancouver's pitching coach in 2014.

  The work Ware has done in his two years with the Lugnuts has been impressive.  Under his watch, first-time full season players like Conner Greene, Jesus Tinoco, and Chase DeJong became stalwarts in the Lansing rotation.  This year, he helped 2015 1st rounder Jon Harris get back on track before his promotion to Dunedin, and helped Ryan Borucki, who had been sent down to Lansing after giving up 40 hits in 20 Florida State League innings, add some deception in his delivery.  Borucki went on to become one of the top starters in the Midwest League, and was added to the Blue Jays 40-man roster this fall.   Ware also helped to change and simplify Sean Reid-Foley's delivery, and helped the Top 10 prospect post the lowest BB/9 rates of his career.

   Markham, ON's Jordan Romano came back from Tommy John surgery in June to pitch for the Lugnuts, and credits Ware for much of the success he experienced last summer.  Under Ware, Romano pitched out of the stretch at all times, and Ware helped him get the proper angle on his fastball.  "Sometimes, I would be working side to side with my fastball, instead of up and down," he said.  "Whenever I would have a good angle on my fastball, it would be a tough night for the hitters, so we worked on that a lot."

   Ware has some big shoes to fill in replacing Sal Fasano, who was revered by many Blue Jays pitching prospects.  Ware is quieter and not as outgoing as the departed Fasano, but he has just as many admirers in the system, and has quietly put together an impressive body of work.  Ware is not just adept at correcting mechanical flaws in a pitcher - he understands the psychology of working with young pitchers, as well.  Blue Jays Director of Player Development Gil Kim confirmed Ware's hiring, saying, "Jeff possesses a high standard of excellence for both himself and his teammates, a competitive drive to get better every day, and a humble personality who has a passion for helping people."
   The Blue Jays may have more pressing needs at the moment (ie the team's 25-man roster), but this was an excellent hire.
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