Twins name Rowson as hitting coach

Twins name Rowson as hitting coach

MINNEAPOLIS -- After a lengthy search that featured several external candidates, the Twins officially hired James Rowson as their new hitting coach on Friday.

Rowson, who had served as the Minor League hitting coordinator for the Yankees for the past three seasons, replaces Tom Brunansky, who was Minnesota's hitting coach for four years. Twins chief baseball officer Derek Falvey said he met Rowson a few years ago and immediately recognized his people skills. Rowson's ability to build relationships came across in his interviews with the front office and manager Paul Molitor, while those in baseball had nothing but positives to say about him.

"We heard nothing but praise about his character and as a hitting coach," Falvey said. "It became so very clear that James stood out as the top candidate."

Rowson, 40, has experience as a Major League hitting coach, serving in that capacity with the Cubs in parts of two seasons from 2012-13. Rowson was also in his second stint as the Yankees' Minor League hitting coordinator, as he held that position for six years before joining the Cubs in '12 in a short stint as their Minor League coordinator. He then moved over to be Chicago's Major League hitting coach in June of that year. Rowson rejoined the Yankees in his previous role as Minor League hitting coordinator the next season.

Rowson helped develop top prospects such as Chicago's Anthony Rizzo and New York's Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge and Greg Bird, so he said he's looking forward to working with young Minnesota players such as Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano and Max Kepler.

"I looked at the roster and saw the young players there and thought it was an exciting opportunity," Rowson said. "I'm looking forward to being part of something special. "When you look at younger players, I think I've had some success with those guys."

Rowson said communication is the key to be a hitting coach, as it's all about building relationships and trust with hitters. He said he's open to analytics, calling himself a combination of new school and old school.

"I'm a believer that you have to have the best information possible," Rowson said. "I think there's an element of old-school-like mechanics and approach at the plate. But now there's information nowadays that's accessible to us that can help us to devise plans to understand how the opposition will face you or what your strengths are. Being able to use analytics to give a guy the best plan that night, you have to take advantage of that."

Molitor was impressed by Rowson during the interview process, especially his ability to connect with people.

"For me, it was about getting a feel for a person," Molitor said. "Just get a feel for what he's done and what he's learned. Hitting is a tricky thing. Everyone has their own style and strengths. But I had a really good feel for his desire to establish relationships."

Rowson was selected by the Mariners in the ninth round of the 1994 Draft, but he never reached the Majors. He played three seasons in the Minors in the Mariners and Yankees' organizations.

The Twins still have to hire a first-base coach after the dismissal of Butch Davis. Falvey said the club has interviewed both internal and external candidates, and a hiring could come soon.

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.