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Arizona Diamondbacks announce new ‘Mental Skills’ department, among other front office changes

The Arizona Diamondbacks’ Baseball Operations department announced a series of staff changes, including promotions, new hires and newly-created positions, highlighted by a new Mental Skills department for the 2019 season.

Alexander Crystal Seer Photo by Buyenlarge/Getty Images

The Mental Skills department will be an all-encompassing effort, with its impact reaching players, coaches and staff across all affiliation levels in the organization. “As professional baseball players continue to become more proactive with their careers, mental skills and conditioning is a major component to their daily preparation,” said D-backs Executive Vice President and General Manager Mike Hazen. “We are excited to create this department for the D-backs, and provide our players with as many developmental resources as we can.”

Zach Brandon will lead the department as Coordinator, Mental Skills. He joins the D-backs from IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., where he was a mental conditioning coach from 2016-18. In his role, he was responsible for developing and implementing mental training programs for student-athletes, while also providing individual consulting services to external trainees, including Olympic track and field athletes and Major League Baseball players. Prior to his time at IMG Academy, he served as a mental performance consultant at California State University, Fullerton from 2014-16, where he worked with athletes across all sports. He received his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Linfield College (Ore.) in 2014 and his master’s degree in kinesiology with sport psychology concentration from Cal State-Fullerton in 2016.

Joining Brandon in the Mental Skills department will be Charley Jauss as a newly-created Mental Skills Coach, as well as Daniel Bard who returns as a Player Mentor. Jauss is the son of Pirates coach Dave Jauss, and received his master’s degree in counseling, specializing in sport and health psychology from Adler University (Ill.) in 2018. His late grandfather, Bill, was a renowned sports columnist for the Chicago Tribune for 37 years (1968-2005). Bard is entering his second season in his role, working as a mentor to players across all levels of the organization.

In addition to the mental skills department, the D-backs have 7 front office new hires. Taylor Choe enters her first season as Analyst, Baseball Operations Research & Development, after working as a D-backs intern in 2018. Micah Daley-Harris will also enter his first season as Analyst, Baseball Operations Research & Development after previously interning with Arizona during the 2017-18 seasons. Thomas Johnson joins the D-backs as a Baseball Systems Developer after working as a contract software developer for Speaking Rock Casino (Texas), Arizona State University, Envision and Cummins-Allison.

Ross Seaton joins the D-backs as Pitching Analyst, after spending 2018 as a Minor League Affiliate Apprentice for the Rays. He pitched professionally for 8 seasons in the Astros (2008-14) and Tigers’ (2015) systems, as well as 2 seasons with independent Bridgeport (2016-17). Patrick Sellas enters his first season as Analyst, Sports Medicine after serving as a Research & Development Fellow in 2018. Connor Shannon will be Assistant, Baseball Operations after serving as a Baseball Operations Intern in 2018. Gavin Sweeney enters his first season as Junior Developer, Baseball Systems after interning in the Research & Development, Baseball Systems department last season.

The D-backs have 4 front office role changes. Alex Cultice will enter his first season as the newly-created Run Prevention Coordinator after spending the last 2 seasons as a Coaching Assistant/Major League Advance Scouting (2017-18). He will be in his ninth season with the D-backs, getting his start as a Minor League Video Assistant with Rookie-Advanced Missoula in 2011. Drew Hedman will enter his first season as the newly-created Run Production Coordinator after spending 2018 as a Professional Scout. Prior to joining the D-backs, Hedman served as an assistant in the Nationals’ Baseball Operations department in 2015 and was the Assistant Baseball Coach & Assistant Recruiting Coordinator for the National Champion Vanderbilt Commordores in 2014 following a 4-year playing career in the Red Sox’ organization (2009-12). Max Phillips was promoted to Analyst, Baseball Operations after spending 2018 as Assistant, Baseball Analytics and Baseball Operations intern in 2017. Chris Slivka will transition to Professional Scout after working as an Assistant, Baseball Operations from 2017-18 and Intern, Baseball Operations in 2016.

The D-backs have 1 new hire in a senior-level scouting role. Danny Haas joins the organization as a Special Assignment Scout, and will work in Amateur and International Amateur Scouting, as well as in Professional and Major League Scouting. He previously worked for the Orioles from 2012-18 in various capacities in their Baseball Operations department, most recently as a Special Assistant to the Executive Vice President, Scouting, and 10 seasons with the Red Sox Amateur Scouting department (2002-11).

The D-backs have 3 new hires in Major League & Professional Scouting. Jacob Frisaro will enter his first season as Professional Scout with the D-backs, having spent the last year creating JT Baseball Scouting, a video scouting website, and working for Perfect Game USA as a part-time Scout Recap Writer following his graduation from St. Thomas University (Fla.) in 2018. His father, Joe, is the beat writer for the Marlins. Matthew Hahn joins the D-backs as a Professional Scout after serving in the same capacity with the Cubs from 2015-18. Prior to joining the Cubs, Hahn was a Professional Scout with the Rays from 2014-15 after spending 8 years as an assistant in their Baseball Operations department from 2006-14. Brett West will be in his first season as a Professional Scout with the D-backs after spending 7 years (2012-18) in the Marlins’ Player Development department, most recently as the Assistant Director, Player Development since 2014.

The D-backs have 2 new hires in Amateur Scouting. Matt Mercurio will be an Area Scout in north Florida and joins the organization from the Florida Institute of Technology’s baseball coaching staff. He played a pair of seasons in the Red Sox’ organization (2005-06) and 1 season with independent New Haven County. Dan Ramsey will be an Area Scout in the Pacific Northwest, joining the organization from the Twins, where he was the GCL Twins manager in 2018. Prior to that, Ramsey was the head baseball coach at his alma mater Whitworth University (Wash.) for 9 seasons from 2009-17.

In International Scouting & Latin Operations, Omar Rogers was promoted to Supervisor, Dominican Republic after spending 2018 as Scouting Coordinator, Dominican Republic. This will be his 19th season in professional baseball, having previously served as the Cardinals’ area scout in the D.R. from 2012-17, the Twins’ Dominican Summer League hitting instructor from 2010-11, Indians scout in eastern D.R. from 2008-09 and a 7-year playing career in the Orioles’ organization (1999-2005).

Mike Cadahia will enter his first season with the D-backs as International Crosschecker after spending the last 7 years with the Marlins as Southeast Scouting Supervisor (2011-18). Prior to that, he was the National Crosschecker for the Mariners from 2008-11, the Marlins East Coast Scouting Supervisor from 2002-08 and the Blue Jays’ East Coast Scouting Supervisor from 1999-2002. Johan Maya and Pedro Meyer will both enter their first seasons with the D-backs as Scout, Dominican Republic. Maya, a native of Venezuela, spent the last 15 years in the Astros’ organization in Player Development and Scouting. Meyer spent the last 10 years (2009-18) working as an Advance Scout for the Estrellas Orientales of the Dominican Winter League, and 15 years working as a scout for the Hiroshima Toyo Carp (1997-2012).