Pete Woodworth successfully developed several of the Seattle Mariners’ top pitching prospects at the Double-A level in 2019. The Mariners will find out if he can continue that positive production in 2020.
Woodworth, who was the Texas League coach of the year last season, was named Seattle’s next pitching coach Thursday when the club announced its 2020 coaching staff.
“It’s unbelievable,” Woodworth said during a conference call Thursday afternoon. “I’ve had the opportunity to work with a handful of these guys. To see those guys make the jump from Double-A or from (Triple-A) Tacoma and make their debut or get back up there, was really cool. ...
“It’s awesome to kind of join them, and progress with them, and develop them, and help them along their way.”
In Arkansas last season, Woodworth mentored former first-round draft pick Logan Gilbert, Justin Dunn and Justus Sheffield, who are each considered top 10 prospects in the organization, among others. Both Dunn and Sheffield ended their seasons with the Mariners, while Gilbert could arrive in Seattle as early as 2020.
The Travelers’ pitching staff also finished with 1,324 strikeouts — the second-most in Texas League history — under Woodworth.
He spent the final month of the season with the big league club, and said he feels his experiences in the Mariners’ farm system — he was the pitching coach at High-A Modesto for two seasons prior to joining Arkansas’ staff — will translate well to the big league club.
“It was awesome to get up there and spend time with (Mariners manager) Scott (Servais) and a lot of the staff, and get to know the ins and outs of the staff and facility there,” Woodworth said. “But it was great to see that there’s not a big difference. The same things we’re doing at the minor league level in the organization are very similar, if not the exact same. ...
“You still have to communicate with these guys, you still have to connect with them, you still have to hold them accountable. It was good to see that a lot of the process we’ve created and the culture we’ve created in the minors really translates up there. ... The more we can all work together, the better this whole thing runs.”
That he has already worked with several of the pitchers coming up through Seattle’s pipeline could also help Woodworth make a smooth transition.
“To be there with them, to know them, to know what they’ve been through, to have been in the trenches with them the last couple of years, it’s really exciting to continue to grow and develop at the highest level,” he said.
Adding Woodworth was one of several coaching moves the Mariners made. Two more staffers were promoted from the minors, others will begin new assignments with the club, and bullpen coach Jim Brower and third base/outfielder’s coach Chris Prieto will not return.
“We have a hard-working coaching staff with a diverse set of skills and experiences,” Servais said in a press release. “I am really excited about the ability of this group to connect with all of our players and about the passion they have for teaching and helping our guys improve on a daily basis.”
The rest of the 2020 staff:
▪ Jarret DeHart: Joins the Mariners as an assistant hitting coach after serving as a roving hitting strategist in the minors last season. In addition to his role in the minors, he also worked with Seattle’s hitters. He was the hitting coach for the Arizona League Mariners in 2018.
▪ Carson Vitale: Promoted to the Mariners’ major league field coordinator role after spending the past two seasons as the club’s minor league field coordinator. He previously worked for two years as an international field coordinator for the Dodgers, and for four years in the Angels’ player development department.
▪ Manny Acta: Returns to coaching third base following two seasons as the Mariners’ bench coach. He also coached third base during Servais’ first two seasons as Seattle’s manager.
▪ Fleming Baez: Remains with the Mariners as their bullpen catcher.
▪ Nasusel Cabrera: Remains with the Mariners as a batting practice pitcher.
▪ Paul Davis: Reassigned as the Mariners’ chief pitching strategist after spending the 2019 season as Seattle’s pitching coach.
▪ Brian De Lunas: Returns as Seattle’s bullpen coach after spending last season as the director of pitching development strategies. He was also the Mariners’ bullpen coach in 2018.
▪ Perry Hill: Returns for a second season as Seattle’s first base/infield coach after being instrumental in the development of players such as shortstop J.P. Crawford.
▪ Tim Laker: Returns for a second season as Seattle’s hitting coach.
▪ Jared Sandberg: Olympia native will take over as the Mariners’ bench coach after handling major league field coordinator duties in his first season with the club in 2019.