Cubs hire Tommy Hot­tovy, KC na­tive and for­mer Royal, as their pitch­ing coach

The Kansas City Star - - Sports - BY PETE GRATHOFF AND TAY­LOR ELDRIDGE [email protected]­ [email protected]­chi­taea­

There has been noth­ing tra­di­tional about Tommy Hot­tovy’s ca­reer in pro­fes­sional baseball.

After a stand­out ca­reer at Park Hill South and then Wi­chita State, Hot­tovy was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in 2004, but didn’t make his bigleague de­but un­til 2011 in part be­cause he had Tommy John surgery in the mi­nors. After eight games with Boston, Hot­tovy made nine re­lief ap­pear­ances in 2012 with the Roy­als

Hot­tovy left his play­ing days be­hind after an in­jury in 2014 and joined the Cubs the fol­low­ing year as an ad­vanced scout with the un­usual ti­tle of “director of run pre­ven­tion.”

On Thurs­day, Hot­tovy got a big pro­mo­tion: he’s the Cubs’ new pitch­ing coach. He’ll be work­ing for Cubs man­ager Joe Mad­don, one of the first to em­brace saber­met­rics in the dugout.

“There are guys that just don’t speak both lan­guages,” Hot­tovy told The Star in 2016. “That can un­der­stand what the baseball mind sees in some­thing, but can also talk about exit ve­loc­i­ties and spin rates and hard-con­tact rate. All these things that the an­a­lyt­ics de­part­ments push, they of­ten times get lost in trans­la­tion.”

Hot­tovy re­places Jim Hickey, who re­signed after last sea­son. Mad­don is in the fi­nal year of his con­tract and there is spec­u­la­tion that 2019 might be his fi­nal sea­son with the Cubs.

While Hot­tovy didn’t have great suc­cess in the ma­jors, he was The Star’s Male Scholar-Ath­lete of The Year in 2000, then a stand­out re­liever for the Shock­ers from 2001-04, com­pil­ing a ca­reer record of 16-5 with 187 strike­outs in 182-plus in­nings with a 2.66 earned-run av­er­age.

Wi­chita State won three Mis­souri Val­ley Con­fer­ence tour­na­ment cham­pi­onships dur­ing his four years, while Hot­tovy rose up MLB Draft boards after his se­nior sea­son when he logged a 9-3 record, 2.25 ERA and 92 strike­outs in 76 in­nings.

In a news release, the Cubs noted that “Hot­tovy has worked within the ma­jor-league pitch­ing in­fra­struc­ture for the last four sea­sons, for­mu­lat­ing game plans with the coach­ing staff and as­sist­ing pitch­ers in their game prepa­ra­tion on a daily ba­sis.”

“When I was pitch­ing, I had to break down hit­ters quite a bit. I didn’t have the ‘stuff’ that most of these guys have,” Hot­tovy told FanGraphs shortly after the 2015 World Series. “A lot of what I do is data ac­cu­mu­lat­ing. Baseball is a data game. It’s stats, stats, stats; there are num­bers for ev­ery­thing. How do we want go about break­ing down a hit­ter? How do we want to at­tack his weak­nesses, and at the same time use our pitcher’s strengths? I go through video and data and for­mu­late a game plan based on my per­spec­tive, then I sit with (for­mer pitch­ing coach) Chris Bo­sio and Mike Borzello (the Cubs as­so­ciate pitch­ing coach). We dis­cuss ev­ery­thing.

“When you have a bunch of eyes break­ing down hit­ters, and you get every­body on the same page, you feel a lot more con­fi­dent in what you’re try­ing to do. We each have our own ap­proach, and when we come to the same con­clu­sion, we have a good feel­ing about how we want to at­tack guys.”

JOHN SLEEZER The Kansas City Star

Kansas City na­tive and for­mer Roy­als pitcher Tommy Hot­tovy, shown here dur­ing spring train­ing in 2012.

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