Denver – Assistant General Manager for Rocky Zack Rosenthal is excited about new ideas.
Rocky’s R&D department lost staff during the pandemic and was understaffed in 2021 during the resulting hiring freeze. But Rosenthal this week revealed a reconstructed staff, filled with ideas from other organizations and other disciplines. The R&D team returned to the previous levels, with the gradual expansion of the business.
“You want to talk about bringing up different perspectives, just different ways of looking at things — it’s something we really needed to do in my opinion,” said Rosenthal, who began his time with the Rockies with a coaching stint in 2006. That’s as excited as I used to be [the] Front office a long time ago.”
The Rockies also carried out other baseball operations, promotions and player exploration and development as part of a revamp that began in late April, when Bill Schmidt took over as general manager following the departure of former general manager Jeff Breddich.
The renovation began in September with the appointment of Scott Van Linten as Director of Research and Development. Van Lenten, who has been with the Nationals since 2017 and won the world title in ’19, has completed the move to Denver.
Here is the revamped R&D department:
• Brittany Happy, Director of Baseball Research
Haby has worked with the Rockies for the past four seasons through the MLB Diversity Fellowship Program. Last season after all the departures, Happy carried a lot of errands at home and on the road, from consulting coaches for defensive positioning to researching special assignments for coaches.
Happy’s duties will include advanced exploration. You’ll work with veterans Chris Warren, Advanced Mobile Scout, and Joe Little and Brian Jones, who will share the Video Coordinator and Advanced Exploration duties. Statistical analysts will also report to Happy, and you will provide information to Manager Bud Black and coaches.
“Advanced exploration is my passion, and we work very well together,” Rosenthal said. “It will make a huge difference.”
• Isaac Gerhart Heinz, Integrated Web Developer
Gerhart-Hines and Van Lenten worked with the Nationals, but left the club and was considering other business.
“But then Scott called and said, ‘If you run the department, I want to join,’” Rosenthal said. “The ratings and calls we got from citizens were off the charts.”
Gerhart-Hines works on a user-facing system.
• Taihua Hong, data engineer
A South Korean citizen, Hong served a mandatory term in the military and did computer engineering and development for the South Korean government, but he had other dreams.
“He grew up with baseball, and he loved baseball, but his family didn’t like baseball or know much about it,” Rosenthal said. “He moved to the United States five years ago with the sole aim of trying to find a job in Major League Baseball. I have not spoken to anyone more excited about a job.”
Hong helped out on the ground floor of the Prep Baseball Report, which covers the baseball world. Hong brought in and verified advanced data – the same duties he would take on with Team Rockies.
• Ryan Kelly, Data Engineer
Kelly spent six seasons with Rays, who are highly regarded for linking analytics with field producer, and was looking for a new challenge.
“Taehwa fetches all the data, Ryan takes it from there and makes sure it goes into all the right streams to pull from, to put it in the website that Isaac is building, so there are three steps in the process,” Rosenthal said. .
• Ethan Moore, Analyst, Baseball Research and Development
Moore has spent the past two seasons with the twins, but this is a homecoming. Moore attended Broomfield (Colorado) High School and Holy Family High School in Broomfield before going to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
“He’s been a rock fan all his life, and he’s going to do projects for us,” Rosenthal said. “He’s just a really smart guy, good with computers, good with numbers and a whole bunch of things, and he brings some experience from a really smart front desk.”
• Al Gilbert, Director of Baseball Operations
Gilbert, the former Dodgers coordinator of contracts and financing, replaced Dominic DeRico, who left for a chance outside baseball.
After receiving his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Stanford University, Gilbert earned his Ph.D. from Harvard Law School and worked in private practice before becoming the assistant attorney general for the San Francisco DA office. But 11 months later, he joined the MLB Diversity Fellowship in its inaugural season, 2019, and from there landed a full-time position with the Dodgers.
“He was excited about it because [it offered] “More opportunities to influence the club,” Rosenthal said. “We have heard great things about him. I have interviewed a lot of people and he has been the best.”
• Juliana Rubin, Associate Baseball Operations
Robben was a former high-profile football player at Baldwin Wallace University, earned a law degree from the University of Miami, and rose to the position of Vice President of Business and Legal at Steinberg Sports – an agency run by famed agent Leigh Steinberg.
“She loves baseball,” Rosenthal said. “I got a call from her before she started law school because someone advised me to talk to me about her interests. I’ve talked to her on and off for the past four years, and I’m really excited about her potential.”
Robin will handle roster, contract and salary arbitration issues.
Here are also the exploration and player development moves:
• Sterling Monfort, Director of Professional Scouting
The son of Rockies owner Dick Monfort and brother of Vice President Corporate Partnerships Walker Monfort, Sterling Monfort has been in Scouting since 2014 and has served as Assistant Director of Exploration Operations since 18.
Monfort moves into the coveted role of gathering information from professional club scouts looking for deals and free agency. He will be part of the decision-making team that includes Schmidt; Danny Montgomery, Vice President and Assistant General Manager Scouting; Ty Kozlow, Special Assistant – personnel player; A professional scout for a long time.
“Sterling is more than qualified for this position – he has developed into a very good evaluator, ready for the challenge of managing the department.” Schmidt said. “And we have a lot of seasoned Scouts, so it’s a perfect position for sterling.”
• Emily Glass, Scout Operations Officer
Glass served as the Marlins education program coordinator from 2018 until the team rescinded the position after season 21. Glass always wanted to move into the scouts, and was trained at a scouting school.
Rosenthal was familiar with Glass’s teaching work, as his brother Joshua had served in a similar position with the Rockies.
“We got very high recommendations from everyone at her scouting school,” Rosenthal said. “She was actually driving cross-country, and we figured she’d be driving right through Denver. We met her and she never left.”
Additionally, as part of a promised expansion in mental skills, Colt Olson, a part-time coordinator in the past, has been promoted to a full-time job. Doug Chadwick, Director of Mental Skills Development, will be tasked primarily with the Major League roster, while Jerry Amador and Olson will work with players throughout the system.
Since taking the GM job, Schmidt has called for more mental skills resources. He said that further expansion is planned.