Katie Krall spent years laying the groundwork for a future in baseball, but she didn’t envision the opportunity that she’s now pursuing with the Red Sox.
While an undergraduate at Northwestern, Krall held positions with the Cubs and then worked as an assistant general manager in the Cape League. After graduating in 2018, she was selected for Major League Baseball’s inaugural Diversity Fellowship program, designed to promote women and people of color into front offices. At the conclusion of that fellowship, she went to work for the Reds as an analyst, a position she held while pursuing an MBA at the University of Chicago’s Booth School. And this past fall, she took a job with Google’s global strategy team, with hopes of applying what she learned to baseball.
Everything pointed to a future as a baseball executive. And then, just after Krall had started with Google, she talked with Red Sox assistant farm director Chris Stasio in early November.
The Sox are adding “baseball development” coaches at every level. The position is intended to serve as a bridge connecting coaches with their minor league teams to roving coordinators and the front office in a way that improves how coaches and players receive, translate, produce, and apply information.
“The role would integrate data and really be in the trenches and on the field with the coaching staff,” said Krall. “It appealed to me for a number of reasons and I think being with a franchise like Boston that has put such an emphasis on building that sustainable pipeline of talent, it seemed like the confluence of a lot of different factors that I felt my background in front offices would lend very well to.”
That said, Krall had at least a measure of pause before pursuing the position.
“I had never considered being in uniform. Even though there are many women taking that route, I had never thought about it personally,” said Krall. “I was even candid with [Stasio] and I said, ‘Do you genuinely think that someone like me could be a candidate for this role? Just give it to me straight.’ ”
Stasio didn’t hesitate. Krall had come across in the interview as extremely polished — “someone who had really good baseball knowledge and feel for the game and a strong understanding of player development without actually working directly in player development,” said Stasio — in a way that he saw an obvious fit. His concern had been less whether Krall was a fit for the position than whether she’d be open to a uniform position that represented a departure from a traditional front office track.
“That was great to hear that she had interest in the position, given her advanced experience in an office already,” said Stasio.
And so, the 24-year-old Krall bade farewell to Google (“My memoir someday is gonna be, ‘Two Months At Google: My Life In Baseball,’ ” she said) to join the Sox, with whom she started working as Double A Portland’s baseball development coach. She’s part of a small but growing group of 11 women on coaching staffs in affiliated baseball.
Krall joined an organization in which she is not the first woman in uniform. Instead, she and minor league coach Bianca Smith represent the first instance in which two women have been on coaching staffs in the same organization.
“We didn’t realize it would be the first time in professional baseball that there would be two female coaches on a staff. So, [the response to that has] been phenomenal,” said Krall. “I definitely think that at a point we will get to a place where women will just be hired. It won’t necessarily result in a Zoom call with reporters. I think that would be phenomenal. I guess that would be the ultimate goal, that it doesn’t become newsworthy anymore.”
This week, Krall is getting her first true glimpse of her new job. With the Red Sox running their “Winter Warm-Up” for 28 minor leaguers in Fort Myers, Fla., she’s on the field and in uniform, working with prospects and coaches and establishing herself in a new organization.
“She’s wasted no time to make her own impact on our group,” said Stasio. “Her knowledge to translate information and help drive our department forward is encouraging and exciting.”
For Krall, the excitement is likewise present.
“The main takeaways really have been the emphasis on competitive advantages and winning championships. You walk into the complex and you’re surrounded by photos from ‘04, ‘07, ‘13, ‘18. Everyone is there to win. It’s very palpable,” said Krall. “Getting to work with the players one on one has been phenomenal, especially in smaller group settings … So far it’s been awesome. I’m sad we have to go home on Friday.”