A Conversation With Padres Hitting Coach Alan Zinter

His approach to teaching San Diego's stable of talented youngsters

Have a talented young hitter that needs a little instruction to reach his potential? There’s a guy you might want to talk to.

Padres hitting coach Alan Zinter is one of those people who just kind of have a knack for teaching kids how to hit. What is interesting about that is he’s not a guy who had a whole lot of success as a hitter himself.

“I’ve been fortunate to play a long time; to toil in the minor leagues a long time and go through a lot of frustrations as a hitter,” said Zinter. “That’s prepared me for what I do now. I love teaching. I love to break it down and walk through the fire with a player throughout his career.”

In 19 seasons of professional baseball Zinter played 67 games in the Major Leagues and 1,882 games in the minor leagues and Japan. His professional playing career ended after one last hurrah with the Somerset Patriots of the in the Independent Atlantic League in 2007. He immediately got a job as a minor league hitting coach in the Diamondbacks organization where he started to show an innate ability to show other guys how to put the bat on the ball.

In the Arizona system he developed All-Star 1st baseman Paul Goldschmidt. The Indians caught wind of Zinter so they made him their minor league hitting coordinator and he started molding All-Star 2nd baseman Francisco Lindor in to an offensive threat. Then the Astros brought Zinter back to The Show as an assistant hitting instructor where he helped SS Carlos Correa become an MVP candidate.

When the Padres hired Andy Green to be their manager before the 2016 season they knew they were soon going to dive headfirst in to a rebuild. That means lots of young players that need instruction. And that means they needed a guy with a track record of helping talented players realize their potential.

So they brought Zinter over from Houston. In his first season he drew rave reviews from established stars like 1st baseman Wil Myers, who went to his first All-Star Game, and young players like catcher Austin Hedges, who had the best offensive season of his life working with Zinter, who does not take a “one size fits all” approach to instructing his players.

“I’m not a cookie cutter coach,” said Zinter. “What do they do best? I want to get them to understand that and get them to understand their mechanics and how to get them to repeat those mechanics. That’s where consistency lies. Obviously there are some points in hitting you want to get to. We stress those and teach those but everybody gets to those points differently and it’s OK. If you stand on your head and can get to the launch position on time I’m fine with that.”

Now he gets to try and mold top prospects like Manuel Margot, Hunter Renfroe and Jorge Ona; guys with huge ceilings because of their natural ability. With the inexperienced Padres, Zinter has a whole lot of work to do … and he likes it like that.

“It’s not normal to be able to get such young players at this (MLB) level,” said Zinter. “So much talent and they bring a lot to the table so I’m just looking to learn them and watch what they do; make sure they’re doing good routines. It’s very important to have an open mind and a growth mind set.”

Growth is a good word for the Padres, who believe they’ve planted the seeds of a winning franchise. It’s up to guys like Zinter to nurture them.

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