As phrase unfold all through the group this week, many have been annoyed by Keister’s dismissal, in keeping with three folks with information of the scenario. In slightly over a decade, the 52-year-old managed the Gulf Coast League Nationals, the low-Class A Hagerstown Suns, the high-Class A Potomac Nationals and Senators. Before becoming a member of the Nationals, he was an newbie scout for the San Diego Padres, assistant coach on the University of South Carolina and head coach at Delaware State and Wesley College.
He was, briefly, a staple of Washington’s participant growth employees once they have been run by Doug Harris or Mark Scialabba. Keister’s vitality turned Manager Dave Martinez right into a fan when Keister helped throughout main league spring coaching. But adjustments have been anticipated as soon as Watson took management final fall. Back in July, Watson famous how Harrisburg’s shedding document confirmed a expertise hole in a system that then obtained one other jolt with the Juan Soto-Josh Bell return.
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Keister declined to touch upon his departure. General Manager Mike Rizzo, who must approve the firing, didn’t reply to a request for remark Tuesday.
The Senators completed 52-85, the worst document within the Eastern League. In 2021, that they had the second-worst document at 42-76. One might argue, although, that minor league managers shouldn’t be assessed by wins and losses, particularly when they’re given a skinny roster in what was a bottom-ranked farm system. According to a number of folks with information of Watson’s determination, there was a disconnect between Keister and Micah Franklin, who Watson employed because the Senators’ hitting coach after they labored along with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Since Watson assumed his present position, the Nationals have made overdue strides in direction of modernizing their participant growth operation. Last spring, they employed David Longley as director of knowledge and know-how within the minors. The employees grew by 14 positions with extra coaches, coordinators, a nutritionist and psychological abilities coordinator. Washington introduced in personnel from quite a lot of different golf equipment, bucking a long-standing development of rearranging deck chairs as an alternative of filling holes from the surface. And the membership is now within the course of of putting in Hawk-Eye digicam methods at Nationals Park and all 5 of their affiliate services in Florida, Harrisburg, Fredericksburg, Wilmington and Rochester, hoping to an inflow of participant motion knowledge.
But Keister’s firing has nervous those that need a mixture of new blood and loyalty to tenured coaches and coordinators. Of course, these might be clashing pursuits, and it’s not Watson’s job to maintain somebody round simply because they’ve been with the staff for some time. Still, two folks described Keister as organized and keen to find out about analytics and tech, regardless of having a conventional baseball background.
A 12 months in the past, earlier than Watson changed Scialabba as head of participant growth, the membership fired high-A manager Tommy Shields, outfield/baserunning coordinator Gary Thurman, hitting coach Brian Rupp and pitching coach Pat Rice. At least up to now, this September’s shake-up will not be as widespread.
With Keister now not in his position, the Nationals’ minor league managers are Matthew LeCroy (Class AAA Rochester Red Wings in 2022), Mario Lisson (high-Class A Wilmington Blue Rocks), Jake Lowery (low-Class A Fredericksburg Nationals), Luis Ordaz (Florida Complex League) and Sandy Martinez (Dominican Summer League).