The New York Yankees made history earlier this month as they officially hired Rachel Balkovec to manage Low-A Tampa Tarpons. Balkovec is the first full-time female manager in the history of affiliated baseball at the Major or Minor League levels.
She joined the Yankees organization in November 2019 as a Minor League hitting coach, becoming the first woman to be named to that role in the history of professional baseball. In 2021, Balkovec served as a hitting coach for the Florida Complex League Yankees.
With the historic promotion, Balkovec has been congratulated by many throughout the sport, but hearing from Los Angeles Dodgers part-owner Billie Jean King is something that meant a lot to her.
“It’s like, ‘OK, I can die now. My career is over. Billie Jean King congratulated me,’” Balkovec said. “And also Jean Afterman is someone that’s in the game, in our organization, someone that I’ve looked up to for a long time, and reaches out.
“Those things mean a lot. It makes all the difficult times really worth it to know that you are paying it forward. What they did for me, I’m able to do for somebody else.”
King joined the Dodgers ownership group in 2018 with Ilana Kloss. The social activists, tennis champions, and longtime partners were honored by the Dodgers the following year for their ongoing commitment to creating positive change throughout sports.
Balkovec has been working in professional baseball since 2012, when she became a Minor League strength and conditioning coaching intern for the St. Louis Cardinals. She then was their Minor League strength and conditioning coordinator from 2014-2015.
Prior to joining the Yankees, Balkovec spent three seasons with the Houston Astros, serving as the strength and conditioning coach for Double-A Corpus Christi in 2018 and the Rookie-level GCL Astros in 2017.
She also worked as the Latin American strength and conditioning coordinator from 2016-2017.
Balkovec’s other stops and experiences include various roles at Arizona State University, the Arizona Fall League, Los Tigres del Licey of the Dominican Winter League and a 2020 hitting coach position with the Sydney Blue Sox of the Australian Baseball League.
In between her stints with the Yankees and Astros, Balkovec served as an apprentice hitting coach for the Netherlands National Baseball and Softball programs while earning a master’s degree in biomechanics at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the Netherlands from 2018-2019.
As part of her education, Balkovec conducted research in eye-tracking for hitters at Driveline Baseball.
Astros hired Scott Powers from Dodgers
The Astros hired former Dodgers director of quantitative analysis Scott Powers to be one of their new assistant general managers. He joins Andrew Ball, who was also just hired by the organization, and Pete Putila as the Astros’ three assistant general managers.
For the past three seasons, Powers assisted in player evaluation, player development and in-game strategy as the for the Dodgers.
With the Astros, Powers will focus on research and development, performance science, and other departments within the Astros’ analysis system. Powers was one of many hires Houston made for their front office and player development system, along with Sara Goodrum and Ball.
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