Ex-Chicago Bandits softball player Rachel Folden was one of eight new hires announced by the Cubs on Friday. She will be the lead hitting lab tech and fourth coach for the organization’s two Arizona League affiliates in rookie ball, becoming the first woman to be on a coaching staff in franchise history.
Folden joins a small group of women to land coaching opportunities in MLB. In 2015, the A’s hired Justine Siegal to be a guest instructor for its fall instructional league and this past spring training Oakland brought in Veronica Alvarez to work with the team’s catchers. The Yankees are also hiring Rachel Balkovec as a roving hitting instructor.
Folden, 32, has been a hitting consultant for Elite Baseball Training, which was created by Justin Stone. Earlier in the offseason, Stone was hired by the Cubs to become the director of hitting.
Jordan Bastian, who covers the Cubs for MLB.com, spoke with Stone about the addition of Folden on Friday.
“She’s going to be a star,” Stone said on Friday. “She’s the first person I brought in for an interview. Even when I was interviewing with different teams, I brought this up in my own interview process, that this was important to me, because I knew wherever I was going to go, I was going to have to build a staff. … Rachel’s been working alongside me for the last couple years, and there is nobody more confident.
“You worry, or you take a second thought of, ‘How are guys going to react to the first time they’ve ever been coached by a woman in their life?’ Rachel’s the perfect person to cross this barrier, because not only is she one of the most talented people in our industry, she’s extremely confident. And, if somebody gives her crap, she’ll get in the cage and probably outswing them.”
Folden played in the National Pro Fastpitch league from 2008-12, and previously worked as an assistant softball coach at Valparaiso University. She also started Folden Fastpitch in 2010, providing baseball and softball instruction based on biomechanics, science, technology and data.
Here are the other seven new hires.
- Casey Jacobson: coordinator of pitching development
- Doug Willey: Rookie League Mesa pitching coach
- Travis Fitta: Class A Short-Season Eugene, fourth coach, hitting and baseball development
- Steven Pollakov: Dominican hitting analytics coordinator
- Dan Puente: Class A South Bend hitting coach
- Will Remillard: Double-A Tennessee, fourth coach, hitting and baseball development
- Will Skett: Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach, fourth coach, hitting and baseball development
The Cubs sure have been committed to overhaul their player development department this offseason.