NEW YORK – The New York Yankees named Rachel Balkovec as a full-time hitting coach in the minor leagues, The New York Times reported on Saturday, adding she is believed to be the first woman to hold such a position in pro baseball.
The 32-year-old Balkovec previously worked with the St. Louis Cardinals as the minor league strength and conditioning coordinator, followed by a stint in the Houston Astros system.
She will be with the Yankees when they report to Tampa, Florida, for spring training in February.
“When you work with Rachel as a player or a coach, it’s clearly apparent that her investment in you and in her expertise in the field is only going to make you better,” Yankees hitting coordinator Dillon Lawson told the Times.
“It may be initially different because she’s a woman, but you quickly realize that she is simply an elite coach and you see her for that.”
Lawson said hiring her was an easy decision.
“She’s a good hitting coach, and a good coach, period,” he said.
Balkovec was a catcher on the Creighton and New Mexico softball teams. She has two master’s degrees in human movement sciences and is expected to bring an analytical approach to her job with the Yankees.
“During the interview process, I was blown away by the Yankees hitting staff,” Balkovec told The Times. “They are making aggressive operational changes to compete in the rapidly changing landscape of player development.”
Also on Friday, the Chicago Cubs hired 32-year-old Rachel Folden as the lead hitting lab tech and a coach at its rookie league team in Mesa, Arizona