Mike Pagliarulo, who was a member of the Andre Chiefs Coaching Staff in 2016, was recently named Hitting Coach of the Miami Marlins. Below is a story written by Sun Sentinel Sports Reporter Tim Healey.
There are two things you should know about Mike Pagliarulo, the Miami Marlins’ new hitting coach.
The first is his last name is pronounced Pal-lee-ah-ROO-low — or, as Pagliarulo put it, “however it comes out.” Most people just call him Pags.
The second is that Pagliarulo, 56, is a researcher of sorts, always passionate and sometimes obsessive. The guy does his homework. From an amateur career that brought him to the University of Miami to his major league days when he was teammates with Don Mattingly to multiple stages of a post-playing career, Pagliarulo has made research and preparedness a hallmark of his baseball life.
Pagliarulo would have never ended up in South Florida if not for his research. He was a suburban Boston kid in the 1970s, an all-state player as a junior but not sure how good he really was, playing maybe two-dozen games a year in a part of the country where the winter comes early and stays late. So he started reaching out to college programs to gauge potential interest Florida Stateand Rollins College in the Sunshine State, Southern California and Arizona outside it. And then there was UM. Pagliarulo’s grandparents lived in Pembroke Pines, and during one family get-together he arranged a visit to Coral Gables, too. That’s where he met Ron Fraser, the late and legendary Hurricanes baseball coach, and assistant Skip Bertman. A 6-foot-2, switch-hitting shortstop? Pagliarulo had their attention. He ended up with a scholarship and a successful three-year collegiate career. “I felt like that was where I was born in baseball,” Pagliarulo said in a telephone interview Wednesday, a day after his hiring with the Marlins was announced.
The New York Yankees picked Pagliarulo in the sixth round of the 1981 amateur draft. Three years later, he made it to the Bronx and played third base opposite Mattingly, the All-Star first baseman and MVP candidate. It was the start of Pagliarulo’s 11-season big league career with five teams, plus a one-year layover in Japan. One of his best seasons came in 1991, when he was on the World Series-winning Minnesota Twins.
Pagliarulo spent half of his major league days with the Yankees, with whom he learned further lessons in research — in this case, research on a given game’s starting pitcher. The detailed scouting reports commonplace now were much less so then. “The Yankees had reports on everything,” Pagliarulo said. “I can say I was always prepared for first pitch.”
Research has remained the common career thread for Pagliarulo, but in his post-playing days it took on a more central role. Research became his job, as opposed to the preparation for his job, as he transitioned into the scouting world. Pagliarulo and Willie Fraser — a contemporary and fellow journeyman who also had a Japan stint and joined the Marlins as an advance scout last season — became part-owners of iScout, Inc., in late 2001. They consulted with major league and Japanese teams interested in bringing in players from the other country, a service complete with video scouting reports — a rarity for a turn-of-the-century enterprise.
By the end of last decade, Pagliarulo joined the Los Angeles Angels as a major league and advance scout. In 2013-14, he was the hitting coach for Triple-A Indianapolis in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ farm system, Pagliarulo’s only professional coaching gig until this week. Gregory Polanco, Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer were among his charges. After two seasons, Pagliarulo wanted more. “I knew I could have an impact on a major league club,” he said. He started plotting his next move, getting back to his research roots: Now what? Instead of a high school kid looking for a college, Pagliarulo was the middle-aged father of two grown children and looking for another direction. He reached out to people in the game he knew to see where might be a fit. He thought hitting coordinator, usually a sort of organizational floater/overseer spending time with various minor league teams, would be a logical next step.
Talks with the Marlins and Boston Red Sox last winter didn’t result in a job. A year later, with the Marlins moving on from Barry Bonds after one season as hitting coach, Pagliarulo got the job. As he works with assistant hitting coach Frank Menechino, Pagliarulo will be tasked with helping Marlins hitters digest the occasionally intimidating library of information available to them — including video, an aspect of the club’s offensive game Mattingly stressed needed to get better as Miami’s season petered out to a disappointing end in September. Pagliarulo is confident he can do that. The skill set he has developed over the course of decades is one of a modern major league hitting coach. “I’m so glad the technology is as advanced as it is,” Pagliarulo said. “From my lived experience, with that technology, I can expand on what I’ve learned and what [players] need to learn.”
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