The Texas Rangers have hired Donnie Ecker to be the team’s new bench coach and offensive coordinator, per multiple reports. Ecker, 35, was one of the Giants’ hitting coaches in 2020.
Ecker will be replacing Don Wakamatsu, who was the Rangers’ bench coach under Chris Woodward. He would also seem to be taking over the role that Alex Burg had in 2021 — Burg was the team’s “run production coordinator.” I would think he would potentially have some input in the hiring of a new hitting coach and assistant hitting coach, as well.
The Giants implemented a different way of doing batting practice in 2021, something Ecker was involved in, as they had hitters facing different machines throwing pitches at game velocity and with serious movement. Andrew Cresci with Driveline Baseball had a Twitter thread in late August that talked about the Giants’ significant improvement in offensive production with older hitters, noting that “[San Francisco] is currently the only team hitting pregame on-field w/ pitching machines simulating pitch profiles of potential pitchers they are going to face.”
Given Ecker’s role as “run production coordinator,” I would expect to see something similar implemented by the Rangers in 2022.
Jeff Passan says, in a tweet about Ecker’s hiring, that he’s “seen around the industry as a rising star,” and that Giants players “rave about him.” Ecker was drafted by the Rangers in 2007 in the 22nd round out of Lewis & Clark College, but was released in 2008. After a couple of years in Indy Ball, Ecker entered coaching, and was with the St. Louis Cardinals as part of their player development group for several years. Ecker then was the Cincinnati Reds’ assistant hitting coach in 2018, and the Reds’ “Director of Hitting” in 2019.