WASHINGTON – The coaching musical chairs that had an impact with the Nationals trickled down to Brad Holman, who is the pitching coordinator in player development for Washington.
When COVID-19 issues hit the coaching staff of the Nationals, Sam Narron was summoned from Double-A Harrisburg to fill in for big league pitching coach Jim Hickey.
The Nationals also needed Michael Tejera, who had been at Triple-A Rochester, to be part of the Major League staff.
So Holman – who pitched for Seattle in 1993 – filled in for 12 games as the pitching coach at Rochester, the top farm team of the Nationals.
“Guys were filling in up there, so I was helping out,” Holman told Federal Baseball on Tuesday from his home in Wichita. “It was two weeks and 12 games.”
Holman travels around to all of the affiliates and planned to be in Florida last month to see some of the recent pitchers who were drafted by the Nationals in person.
But he was summoned to join the coaching staff at Rochester, where former major league catcher Matt LeCroy is the manager.
“Matty is great – he has been around the game a long time,” Holman said. “He has a good way about him. He is a good conversationalist, a good communicator. The kids really enjoy him.”
Among the pitchers Holman got to see in person in Rochester were Tanner Rainey and Wander Suero, relievers with a taste of success in The Show but also ones that were sent back down for some fine tuning.
“We also recently got Kyle McGowin” at Rochester, Holman said. “I have had all three of those guys as pitchers prior to the big league opportunities. It was a chance to be with those guys and remind them of things they had done in the past that made them good or helped them get better. It was a real comfortable opportunity for me to get with them.”
Holman was the pitching coach at Triple-A Fresno in 2019 for the Nationals. He notes Rainey missed time due to protocols.
“Sometimes when guys take time off, then get into a little bit of a funk” upon returning, he said. “Just had to remind them of some things in the past that made them good. They are very receptive, because I have had them before.”
Holman notes pitchers can work on mechanics in the minors and not worry as much about results.
“At the Major League level, it is about winning,” Holman said. “Going to the minor leagues has a different element, especially this season. You can work with guys without the fear of failing.”
Holman hopes to see Suero get on track.
“He naturally has a fastball that cuts,” Holman said. “He is trying to develop a cutter while his fastball cuts naturally. The cutter becomes a little bit easier to track for a hitter and it becomes a little bit more visual.”
Other pitchers on the Rochester roster recently include Aaron Barrett, Josh Rogers, and Nick Wells.
“Aaron is doing really well; he has a fastball in the low 90s and his slider is above average and the changeup is his third pitch and also an average pitch. He knows how to pitch; it is just a matter of him continue to do what he is doing and logging innings. He is in a really good place,” Holman said.
“Nick is a guy who has recently been on the radar and is left-handed,” Holman said of Wells.
“He is performing well. Unfortunately, not everybody can go to the big leagues. There are guys knocking on the door, which gives us options, which is a real good problem to have.”
Holman plans to spend this week in Wichita before heading to Florida next week to see pitchers on the Gulf Coast League team.