Rachel Balkovic shattered a barrier by becoming the first full-time female hitting coach within the MLB organization and is now ready to reach new frontiers.
A 34-year-old Balkovic will be named manager of the Yankees’ Low-A affiliate in Tampa this season, a source confirmed on Sunday. Athletic. Balkovic will become the first woman to manage a combined minor league team.
He spent the last two seasons as a hitting coach in the Yankees’ rookie-level Florida Complex League. Last year, he served as a first-base coach for the All-Star Futures Game in Denver – another first for the woman. Balkovec called his trailblazing, “responsible” that he did not take for granted.
“I think about it literally every day,” he said last summer. “There is not a day that does not cross my mind and think about my actions. Everything I experienced at the beginning of my career, I have had some difficulties to admit, things that happened, when you know that you are making a change like that. It’s definitely something I don’t take lightly.”
The Omaha, Neb., Native served as a strength and conditioning coach in the minor leagues for the Cardinals and Astros before coming to the Yankees. He has worked with the Dutch national team as a skills acquisition coach and coaches in the Australian Baseball League.
“I have a special interest in biomechanics and understand how the body moves and applies certain things. For example, if motion is restricted, they can identify such things,” Balkovic said in 2019. “How it’s going to affect their swing mechanics and ability to do something in a game situation. Also, the visual side of things, what are the best techniques for picking up the ball to identify the pitch? There are two sides to it, and I’m not sure what’s more important at this point, but I’m not sure I am more inclined to factor in, which many people I think at the moment dive in. It is two-fold, understanding the body at the very bottom and how it applies to swing and action.
– Additional reporting by Dan Martin