The Red Sox are hiring Western Massachusetts native Peter Fatse as their new assistant hitting coach.
Fatse, 32, attended Minnechaug Regional High School in Wilbraham before playing college ball at Connecticut, where he hit .294/.396/.488 in three seasons. He was selected by the Brewers in the 24th round of the 2009 draft, and spent two seasons in Milwaukee’s system before spending another two years playing independent ball.
While still playing professionally, Fatse opened Advanced Performance Academy in Western Massachusetts, where his interest in player development allowed him to become well-versed in the hitting philosophies of and technologies employed by many of the consultants who helped reshape hitting approaches in the game in recent years.
Fatse, a former college teammate of Red Sox pitcher Matt Barnes, played a critical role in the offensive development of Diamondbacks shortstop and fellow UConn alum Nick Ahmed, who worked with his former Huskies teammate in recent offseasons.
Fatse’s background as both a player and someone who opened a private facility made him attractive to the Minnesota Twins as a minor league hitting coordinator, a role he filled during the 2019 season.
In a conversation with Fangraphs, outfielder Jaylin Davis, a late bloomer who hit 35 homers this year (nearly matching the 42 he’d launched in his first six pro seasons) and became a midyear trade chip in a deal between the Twins and Giants, credited Fatse as a key contributor to his breakout season. From a story by David Laurila:
“He introduced himself and said, ‘I’m not trying to jump on you too fast, I just want to show you what I saw on video from the [Arizona] Fall League,’ ” Davis told me. “He said that while my upper half was fine, he wanted me to use my legs more and try to hit more balls in the air. We worked on that all spring, and it kind of took off from there.”
Davis went on to explain that he’s now more spread out at the plate, whereas before he was not only “standing too straight up,” his head tended to “bounce a bit.” He couldn’t recall anyone ever having brought those things to his attention, but during his sit-down with Fatse he “could actually see it in the video.”
One evaluator described Fatse as checking “a lot of boxes for what you’d look for in a hitting coach in 2019.”
He will replace former Red Sox assistant hitting coach Andy Barkett, who was let go after the conclusion of the season, while working with Tim Hyers, who is entering his third year as the Red Sox hitting coach.
Three go free
The Red Sox announced Monday that outfielder Gorkys Hernandez, infielder Chris Owings, and pitcher Josh Smith — players who spent time in the majors this season but had little impact — all elected free agency after recently being removed from the 40-man roster and outrighted to Triple A Pawtucket.
Hernandez, 32, was acquired by the Sox in 2018 after electing free agency with the Giants. He’s a solid outfielder but could never get it going with the bat.
In 430 at-bats for Pawtucket this past season, he hit just .219 with a .695 OPS. As a September call-up, he hit .143 for Boston in 57 plate appearances.
Like Hernandez, Owings, 28, was solid in the field but struggled at the plate. He got a solid look this season but didn’t capitalize on the opportunity, hitting .156 with in 51 plate appearances with the Sox. In 145 plate appearance with Kansas City to start the season, he hit .133.
Owings was a first-round pick by the Diamondbacks in 2009 out of Gilbert (S.C.) High School. He elected free agency in 2018 and was picked up by the Royals. After signing with the Sox as a free agent, he had success in Pawtucket, batting .325 with 11 homers and a .980 OPS.
The Sox hoped to get starts out of Smith, but that plan ultimately failed plan. Smith, 32, inked a minor league contract with the Sox after being released by the Mariners in 2018. He posted a combined 5.64 ERA between Pawtucket and the majors in 98⅓ innings.