The Detroit Tigers now seem bound and determined to raid the Los Angeles Dodgers’ for every coach they can get. On Thursday afternoon, Ryan Sienko, the Dodgers’ Catching Coordinator, announced on Twitter that he’d been hired by the Tigers as the Director of Coaching and Field Coordinator. The role also involves working with the organization’s catchers in particular.
This move continues a decided trend established since the hiring of A.J. Hinch a year ago. Hinch hired Chris Fetter, a former pitching coordinator in the Dodgers’ system before taking the job as pitching coach for his alma mater, the University of Michigan. George Lombard, the Dodgers’ first base coach and a man widely considered as a future MLB manager, was hired as Hinch’s bench coach.
Over the past month, the Tigers have begun a comprehensive overhaul of their player development staff, hiring Ryan Garko, another former Dodgers’ coordinator as Director of Player Development. That quickly led to Gabe Ribas, a long-time Dodgers’ pitching coordinator, being hired as Director of Pitching. Now they’ve gone back to the well again for Sienko, who will oversee the development of the organization’s coaching and will presumably also be working hands on with the Tigers’ young backstops.
Sienko has been with the Dodgers for seven years. Beyond his role teaching the catching arts to a steady stream of talented young Dodgers’ catchers, he also established a side project, Catch & Throw, that provides coaching clinics, video, and other assistance to young catchers and coaches, helping them to hone their skills behind the plate.
Once again, it’s pretty hard to argue with poaching coaches from the Dodgers. That organization has been a player development juggernaut over the past decade, and many of the coaches involved, from Hinch, Fetter, and Lombard, to former Director of Player Development, Gabe Kapler, continue to spread that influence throughout the league.
Sienko’s role appears to be in coaching the coaches. Tigers GM Al Avila made a big point in his end-of-season interviews of talking about coaching the development staff and affiliate’s coaches up to a consistent standard and coordinating their work more effectively. Ensuring communication and coordination, while teaching best practices throughout the organization should help make the development team much more effective overall. Those ideas have been a common thread in the Dodgers success in recent years.
Sienko will presumably also do a lot of work with the catchers specifically, and will have some responsibility in developing one of the Tigers’ prized prospects, catcher Dillon Dingler. Based on his role with the Dodgers, he’ll probably also spend time refining the skills of guys like Jake Rogers and Eric Haase as well. With a former MLB catcher in A.J. Hinch running the Tigers, and a former college catcher in Ryan Garko doing the hiring here, odds seem very high that the Tigers have gotten themselves an excellent coach for young catchers.
Here’s an interview with Sienko from back in spring of 2020 describing his role and mentality in coaching catchers for the Dodgers.