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Katz departure to White Sox shows Kapler nailed Giants staff

NBC Sports

Gabe Kapler raised some eyebrows last December when he announced a large coaching staff that was perhaps the youngest and most inexperienced in the history of the game, but the Giants got another indication Thursday that they went in the right direction. The reminder came with some pain, though. 

The Giants reportedly will lose assistant pitching coach Ethan Katz to the Chicago White Sox, who will name Katz their pitching coach, according to Barstool Sports. It's a loss for the Giants, as Katz was well-regarded and got strong reviews for his work with the pitching staff in 2020. 

The move is a bit of a no-brainer for Katz, who gets a promotion and a reunion with White Sox ace Lucas Giolito, who pitched for Katz at Harvard-Westlake High School in Southern California. That's where Katz started his meteoric rise as a coach, and he was credited for helping Giolito, Max Fried and Jack Flaherty develop as teenagers. All three now lead MLB rotations. 

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Katz joined the Giants as a minor league coordinator in 2019 and was promoted to Kapler's staff later that year, working underneath Andrew Bailey. The Giants also have Brian Bannister on their big league staff, so they're still well-covered after losing an important coach.

For Kapler, this has to be a bittersweet moment. Katz was mentioned often by pitchers, including Kevin Gausman, who tipped his cap to Bailey and Katz after a breakthrough season. 

 

"We have a good group of people here and they let me do my thing, but at the same time came to me with some information that they thought would help," Gausman said in his final media session of the season.

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Losing the 37-year-old Katz is a blow, but also a sign that Kapler's staff opened eyes outside of San Francisco, where veterans repeatedly talked of how influential the new coaches were. This also is likely just the beginning for Kapler. The downside of putting together an intriguing young staff is that many of those coaches will at some point bolt for promotions when their strong work is noticed.

The Giants, for instance, have three young hitting coaches, and their work with the lineup was noticed by executives in other organizations. In an ideal world, the organization ultimately will start winning so much that some of their top coaches are considered for managerial positions elsewhere.

For now, Kapler has a hole to fill on his staff, but it may not be too difficult to find a replacement. Of all the managerial candidates to interview with Farhan Zaidi and Scott Harris last year, Kapler had by far the most detailed plan for his staff. He has spent years accumulating a file of up-and-coming coaches who could be on his staff at some point, and now he'll have to dip back into that research.