The Miami Marlins are still working to complete Skip Schumaker’s roster for his inaugural season as the team’s manager.
But one of Schumaker’s tasks is just about complete.
Schumaker on Monday said he has “maybe a couple hires” left to make as he rounds out his first coaching staff.
The Marlins haven’t formally announced the staff yet, but a half-dozen new names have been publicized: Bench coach Luis Urueta, hitting coach Brant Brown, first base coach Jon Jay, third base coach Jody Reed, quality assurance coach Rod Barajas and Griffin Benedict, the last of whom’s role has not yet directly been stated. The Marlins also retained pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr. and bullpen coach Wellington Cepeda.
Schumaker said putting his staff together has been the main priority since his hire became official in late October.
“[I’ve been] trying to figure out who I wanted with the group,” Schumaker said. “A bunch of interviews that went on. The majority of it is tough because a lot of the good coaches are in other organizations. You’re trying to figure out how to get them. Luckily, I got who I wanted for the most part.”
General manager Kim Ng in an interview on MLB Network said Schumaker has had a role in selection each of the six new hires to the staff.
“Skip was a huge part of the process in picking that staff,” Ng said. “We wanted him to be really involved. We have ultimate say, but Skip was in all the interviews.”
During his introductory press conference in early November, Schumaker said his plan for his coaching staff was to hire “guys I’ve known already in some way — either I played with, coached with or have known from being on the other side.”
“I don’t believe in arranged marriages,” Schumaker said then. “You should know what kind of coach is coming on your staff. High character, quality person is what I care about and then high baseball IQ is third on the list. ... I believe having good people around you makes everything go and relationships matter.”
As for the known coaches...
▪ Bench coach Luis Urueta: Urueta spent the past three seasons as the Arizona Diamondbacks’ bench coach and has been part of the Diamondbacks organization in a variety of coaching, coordinating and managerial roles primarily on the minor-league side dating back to 2007.
On the international level, Urueta managed the Colombian national team in the qualifying rounds for both the 2013 and 2017 World Baseball Classics. He was set to manage Colombia in the 2023 World Baseball Classic before taking the job with the Marlins.
“Having been in San Diego a number of years and facing Arizona, I know what he’s all about,” Schumaker said. “He holds the guys accountable. He gets the best version of those guys. That was a big hire for me.”
▪ Hitting coach Brant Brown: Brown has spent the past five seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers and has served as the club’s “hitting strategist” since 2019.
“I see hitting like a hitting department,” Schumaker said. “I know there’s a Number 1, 2, 3, whatever, but I really feel like it’s a department and this is what we should be doing as an organization and not cookie cutter it but have a real philosophy. Brant has that.”
▪ First base coach Jon Jay: This will be Jay’s first coaching job. Jay, a Miami native and former University of Miami standout, and Schumaker played together for three seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals, including the 2011 season when they won the World Series. Jay will also oversee the outfielders.
“I think a guy like Jon Jay has been coaching for the last three or four years of his career, honestly,” Schumaker said. “... He knows what I’m about, and I think is a guy that’s going to hold everyone accountable. I think Jon Jay is a rising star on the coaching side.”
▪ Third base coach Jody Reed: Reed, 60, most recently served as the Marlins’ minor-league infield and baserunning coordinator. Reed will also oversee the infielders.
▪ Quality assurance coach Rod Barajas: Barajas and Schumaker overlapped for four seasons with the San Diego Padres. Barajas was Padres’ bench coach in 2018 and 2019 and became the club’s interim manager in 2019 after Andy Green was fired. He then spent the 2020 and 2021 seasons as the club’s catching and quality control coach before becoming the minor league catching coordinator for the Los Angeles Angels last season.
▪ Griffin Benedict: Benedict, who Schumaker said will have a role on the MLB staff, was most recently the hitting coach for the Iowa Cubs, the Chicago Cubs’ Triple A affiliate. His post-playing career began as a bullpen catcher for the Padres, a role he held from 2011-2020 (overlapping with Schumaker in San Diego for five years).
▪ As for Stottlemyre and Cepeda, retaining these two were obvious choices. Pitching has been the Marlins’ strength over the course of the past five years and Stottlemyre is highly revered in the organization. Cepeda is Stottlemyre’s right-hand man on the coaching staff, so keeping continuity is beneficial.
Schumaker said he “needed that pitching culture to stay the same.”
“That’s been one of the successes here,” Schumaker said, “and that was important to me.”