The San Diego Padres were searching for a new bench coach, and Rod Barajas looks to be the man for the job. On Wednesday, he was named as the new coach, following the departure of Mark McGwire.
After he opted to step down last week, the San Diego Padres parted ways with bench coach Mark McGwire. There was an obvious need to fill the position. With multiple internal options, triple-A El Paso manager Rod Barajas was the best man for the job. AJ Cassavell of MLB.com is reporting that Barajas has indeed won the job.
Barajas has been phenomenal as a coach in the Padres organization over the last five seasons. During the 2014 season, Barajas became the manager of the Padres’ Arizona Rookie League team. Barajas was the Rookie League coach for current Padres players such as Travis Jankowski, Cory Spangenberg, Luis Urias, and Alex Dickerson.
The new bench coach started the 2015 season as the hitting coach for High-A Lake Elsinore and truly thrived. In Lake Elsinore, Barajas coached current Padre Wil Myers during a rehab stint. He also coached White Sox phenom Jose Rondon and had six qualifying players hit over .270. Barajas was promoted to the manager of Double-A San Antonio halfway through the 2015 season and managed Hunter Renfroe.
Barajas became manager of Triple-A El Paso to start the 2016 season. In just three seasons as the manager in El Paso, Barajas collected three division titles, two conference titles, and one Pacific Coast League Championship title (2016). With El Paso, Barajas has coached current MLB players such as Austin Hedges, Carlos Asuaje, Manuel Margot, Jose Pirela, Phil Maton, Dinelson Lamet, Walker Lockett, Christian Villanueva, and many more.
The San Diego Padres struggle highly with getting on base. As a team, the Padres finished dead last in OBP for five straight seasons. They haven’t had an OBP over .300 since 2013. Over the past three seasons under Barajas, El Paso has averaged a .346 OBP. Also over the past three seasons, the Chihuahuas have a .282 batting average, while the Padres have had a batting average of just .234 (Baseball Reference).
As a former MLB player, Barajas has more playing experience than any other candidate. Barajas is a former catcher that spent 14 seasons in the big leagues playing for several organizations. Barajas caught in at least 90 games in six out of seven seasons from 2004 to 2010. Barajas also won the World Series with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2001, where he hit a home run in game 5 of the Fall Classic.
Similar to Bruce Bochy, Barajas was a backup catcher for much of his career. He has worked hard for everything in life. Barajas played at Cerritos Community College and was signed as an amateur free agent in 1996.
Barajas is highly praised by all of his fellow coaches and players. Andy Green calls Barajas a great communicator that has “limitless possibilities in front of him in this game”. Besides Eric Hosmer and Freddy Galvis, every current Padres hitter has played under Barajas at some point.