Jorge Castillo of the LA Times confirmed on Tuesday that Mark Prior will assume the role of pitching coach for the Dodgers. Moreover, President of Baseball Operations Andrew Freidman was the man who informed Castillo.
An earlier LA Times report from @jorgecastillo has Andrew Friedman confirming that Mark Prior will replace Rick Honeycutt as pitching coach for the Dodgers.
— Clint Pasillas (FRG) (@realFRG) November 13, 2019
In a move that has seemed imminent since he was brought on as bullpen coach in 2018, Prior was named pitching coach of the Los Angeles Dodgers. This marks the first time in 14 years that a man not named Rick Honeycutt will hold the title.
Barring a complete roster overhaul, it stands to reason that come spring training, most members of the current Dodgers pitching staff will be familiar with Prior and his communication style, which Pedro Moura of The Athletic gave us a glimpse into in a recent piece. This can only help the team as it continues to work towards that elusive World Series title.
Getting to Know Prior
The San Diego native was a Golden Spikes Award winner with USC 2001. He was draft by, and made his debut with the Chicago Cubs shortly after, and appeared to be a future ace in the making in the Windy City.
As a player, Prior quickly became familiar with postseason disappointments, having been on the mound for the Chicago Cubs during the now infamous Steve Bartman game in the 2003 NLCS.
Throughout his playing career, he also had to battle through and learn from the challenge of overcoming injuries. In an enlightening Sports Illustrated piece he penned back in 2016, he humbly reflects on his playing career and what he has learned about the value of accepting guidance from others. He also spoke about a comeback attempt that never came to fruition.
The Dodgers have a long line of stellar coaching over the years and replacing Honeycutt will be a tall order, but he already brings a strong track record with him. It’s easy to overlook with the rollercoaster ride that is any bullpen, but the Dodgers pitching staff finished with a stellar ERA in each of the two seasons Prior was with the club. With the evolving way in which starting pitchers are handled, the Dodgers also used a record number of pitchers in 2018, making it necessary for Prior to continuously move the pieces around and prepare the various arms (and personalities) for the often-changing roles they were asked to fill.
The role of a pitching coach on any professional team is arguably the most important in the dugout. It comes with great responsibility, along with intense scrutiny. For an organization with a track record of managing to produce an excellent pitching staff year after year, Prior has big shoes to fill. And if all goes well, many young careers will be shaped by him for years to come.