While bigger names such as John Farrell, Rick Kranitz and others have been mentioned as possible successors to Jim Hickey as Cubs pitching coach, Sahadev Sharma at The Athletic says there’s another man who could be a strong contender, Tommy Hottovy:
According to multiple sources, a replacement for Hickey could come from within the organization, as run prevention coordinator Tommy Hottovy has emerged as a leading candidate. No final decision has been made and the Cubs front office will continue to do their due diligence, but preliminary discussions have taken place and Hottovy currently looks like a favorite.
This would certainly be a bold and unusual choice. Hottovy, as noted, has been Cubs “run prevention coordinator” for the last couple of seasons. That’s an unusual title; in the position, Hottovy has worked with Cubs catching coach Mike Borzello “ to create and communicate advanced scouting plans to the pitchers and catchers,” per Sharma’s article.
Hottovy has a strong connection to Theo Epstein’s front office. He was drafted by Theo’s Red Soxin the fourth round in 2004 from Wichita State. He toiled for seven-plus years in the Boston organization before making a handful of relief appearances with the Red Sox in 2011. He was picked up by the Royals as a free agent before 2012 and made another handful of relief appearances there that year. (One of those is depicted above, an outing against the Twins on June 30, 2012.)
The Cubs signed him in the 2013-14 offseason and he pitched in three major-league spring games in 2014 before being released that April. The Cubs brought him into the front office at that time and eventually he took on his present role. Here are some of the things that he’s brought to his current position:
Perhaps Hottovy’s biggest strength is his communication skills. The affable former pitcher is able to translate what may seem like complicated information into a language each pitcher can understand easily. Hottovy doesn’t have just one language in which he gets his point across. He’s comfortable passing along in-depth information to the likes of [Kyle] Hendrickswhile also communicating similarly complex ideas to someone who takes in information differently, like Jon Lester. Both are done in different ways as to ensure each can fully understand the concepts properly and then go apply the lessons on the mound.
Spend some time talking to those in the front office and you’ll hear nothing but praise for Hottovy. He’s ingratiated himself with people at every level of the Cubs organization and could be on the verge of garnering a coveted big-league pitching coach job at just 37. (He’s just months younger than the current youngest pitching coach in the game, the Philadelphia Phillies’ Chris Young).
Hiring a pitching coach who’s only a couple of years older than two of the current Cubs rotation starters would be a bold move. But if the Cubs want to carry a consistent message from the front office to the pitching staff, and allow them to work with someone who they’re already familiar with, hiring Hottovy might just work.
I’m not necessarily advocating this, only passing along this report and noting that the Cubs could very well go in a different direction for their next pitching coach than the traditional route.