New hitting coach Brown has Cubs enthused

November 9th, 2021
CHICAGO — The Cubs have looked outside their organization to address some of their internal hires this offseason, adding some new perspective and experience to the team’s leadership structure.
That approach continued with the search for Chicago’s new hitting coach, a process that has reached its finish line. On Tuesday at the GM Meetings, Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer confirmed that the team has hired Greg Brown — most recently a Minor League hitting coordinator for the Rays — to fill that vacancy.
“We’re really excited to bring him on,” Hoyer said. “He was excellent in the interview process. His background is fascinating with being a really good area scout to a really good college coach to being a coordinator for an organization that really does a really great job developing hitting. He was really impressive throughout and we were excited to bring him on board.”
Earlier this offseason, the Cubs announced the additions of general manager Carter Hawkins (formerly an assistant GM for Cleveland) and assistant GM Ehsan Bokhari (previously a part of Houston’s front office) under president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer.
Like Cleveland and Houston, Tampa Bay is lauded around baseball for its ability to blend analytics with scouting and developing players. The 41-year-old Brown has been a part of the Rays’ system for the past two years, putting him on the map for other clubs in the process.
The Cubs had an opening with their lead hitting-coach role after the team and Anthony Iapoce agreed to part ways at the end of this past season. Iapoce was brought on three seasons ago to work with an established core group of players, which was thinned at last season’s Trade Deadline.
Hoyer did note last month that Chris Valaika, the Cubs’ assistant hitting coach last year alongside Iapoce, was still in the plans for manager David Ross’ 2022 coaching staff. That changed when Cleveland recently hired Valaika away from the Cubs to be the new lead hitting coach for the American League ballclub.
“Obviously, we were sad to lose Chris Valaika,” Hoyer said. “He was a guy that we had hired and watched him grow. You’re always bummed to lose him. We’re excited to bring Greg on board, but also kind of bittersweet to lose Val.”
Hoyer said the Cubs plan to look outside the organization to fill Valaika’s former role on Ross’ staff. In total, the North Siders have cycled through 12 coaches (lead hitting coach and assistants combined) over the past 10 seasons.
Brown — a catcher in the Marlins’ system for four seasons (2003-06) in his playing days — began his post-playing career as an area scout (South Florida and Puerto Rico) for the Astros. He famously signed both Kiké Hernández (sixth round) and J.D. Martinez (20th) in the 2009 MLB Draft.
Between working in Houston’s scouting department and his return to the pro ranks with the Rays, Brown spent nine seasons (2011-19) as the head baseball coach for Nova Southeastern University in Florida. While there, he posted the highest winning percentage (.680) by a head coach in the program’s history.
Beyond the hitting-coach role, the Cubs are also looking to fill the vacancy left by the departure of longtime coach Mike Borzello, who was the team’s associate pitching, catching and strategy coach. Last month, Hoyer said the Cubs may “reimagine some things” on the MLB-pitching-infrastructure front. At the GM Meetings, Hoyer noted that the search on that front was ongoing.
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Jordan Bastian covers the Cubs for He previously covered Cleveland from 2011-18 and Toronto from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian.