A familiar face is reuniting with the Kansas City Royals.
On Thursday, the Royals announced that Joe Dillon will be joining manager Matt Quatraro’s staff. Dillon will serve as an assistant hitting coach, joining Alec Zumwalt and Keoni DeRenne.
All members of the Royals’ coaching are set to return for the 2024 season.
“(Quatraro) and his staff, the people in the organization, is really what attracted me to Kansas City,” Dillon said. You know, great baseball people. The way he runs the staff is we’re all working together in a collaborative effort individualized to the players.”
Dillon began his career in the Royals organization. He was selected in the seventh round of the 1997 MLB Draft and spent five seasons in the minor leagues. In 2001, he was acquired by the Minnesota Twins in the Rule 5 Draft.
Four years later, Dillon made his MLB debut with the Florida Marlins. His playing career included multiple stops, including a one-year stint in Japan. Dillon played his final season with the Tampa Bay Rays Triple-A affiliate Durham Bulls.
Dillon connected alongside Quatraro with the Rays. Quatraro served as the Rays’ minor league hitting coordinator and saw Dillon play with the Bulls during the 2010 season.
“One of the really cool things I experienced was that I was a youngish coordinator and Joe was an oldish player and I was learning from him as a coach when he was still a player,” Quatraro said. “I think it’s a really good experience for our coaching staff as well.”
The Royals are excited to add Dillon into the fold. Dillon has worked with several young MLB stars in his coaching career. He helped develop superstar players such as Juan Soto, Trea Turner and Bryce Harper.
Since 2014, Dillon has coached in multiple organizations including the Marlins, Washington Nationals and Philadelphia Phillies. Dillon won a World Series with the Nationals in 2019 as an assistant hitting coach. Then he was the Phillies’ hitting coach for two seasons.
Recently, Dillon was a hitting coordinator in the Nationals system. He is ready to help the Royals’ contingent of young players, such as Bobby Witt Jr. and Vinnie Pasquantino, take the next step in their careers.
“I don’t think there is just one way to stamp it,” Dillon said. “Everybody is different. Everyone processes information different and every move is different. I think that’s the way we all align as there’s certain things foundationally that everybody has to do.”
Dillon aims to help players in making good decisions at the plate. He plans to assist players with being on time, having a neutral bat path and choosing the correct pitches to swing at consistently in an at-bat.
Meanwhile, Dillon added a few different skills to his coaching toolbox as well.
He attended a recent convention to learn about skill acquisition. In conversations with both Zumwalt and DeRenne, he also referenced potentially adding new machines to help hitters simulate pitches that will be seen in game action.
“You got to get those game reps in for the eyes and the brain to help slow the game down so we can make better decisions,” Dillon said.
The Royals registered a .244 team batting average last season. Additionally, the Royals had a 23.3 strikeout percentage and a 6.9 walk percentage as a team, per FanGraphs. Six players struck out over 100 times while one player produced over 50 walks.
Quatraro looks for more improvement during the 2024 season. By adding a new voice in the clubhouse, it could help unlock the potential for the group.
“What we went through last year, I think there was a growth moment for those guys,” Quatraro said. “It was a really tough start with some pretty steady improvement as the year went on. So, I would expect that experience that’s underneath them now to pay dividends come April.”
The Royals could look different heading into next season. Royals general manager J.J. Picollo has made a few moves to bolster the roster. The Royals added pitchers Nick Anderson and Kyle Wright in separate deals.
KC also signed utility player Garrett Hampson to a one-year deal. He can play multiple positions and brings a high-contact rate and speed element.
There could be more offseason moves in the upcoming days. The 2023 Winter Meetings will be held next week in Nashville,.