DETROIT – The Detroit Tigers have hired Chris Fetter, a “rising star” in the baseball coaching industry from the University of Michigan, to become their new pitching coach.
Fetter replaces Rick Anderson, who was the pitching coach under Ron Gardenhire for a season and a half. This is the first major addition for Tigers manager A.J. Hinch, who joined the organization last week.
Fetter, 34, spent the last three seasons as the pitching coach for Michigan after Erik Bakich hired him in July 2017.
The Detroit Tigers today announced Chris Fetter has been named the club’s Major League Pitching Coach.— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) November 6, 2020
Fetter joins us from the University of Michigan, where he was established as one of college baseball’s top pitching coaches and talent developers. #DetroitRoots pic.twitter.com/afOKZfXnOw
“We’re particularly excited for Chris’s transition to professional baseball," Tigers general manager Al Avila said. "Through his time in the game, Chris has established excellent communication skills with players, and will work with them using traditional mechanics, analytics and biomechanics, each of which are key parts of our player development process at both the Major and Minor League levels.”
Since starting at Michigan, Fetter has had six pitchers drafted, including three before the start of the third round in the last two drafts: Tommy Henry, Karl Kauffmann and Jeff Criswell.
His work with Henry, Kauffmann and Criswell was the main reason Michigan ran all the way to the College World Series in 2019, as the trio handled almost all the pitching duties throughout the NCAA Tournament.
“I’m very excited to join this Tigers coaching staff and work with some truly exceptional players,” Fetter said. “Everyone in baseball has noticed the number of young and talented pitchers that this organization has built up over the last few years, and after talking with Al and A.J., it was clear what a tremendous opportunity this is. Playing and coaching at the University of Michigan has been one of the greatest honors of my life, and I want to thank all our coaches, players and fans for their support while I’ve worn the maize and blue. I know how passionate Tigers fans are for their team, and I’m looking forward to help build something special for all of them in Detroit.”
Fetter also served as the minor league pitching coordinator for the Los Angeles Dodgers before joining Bakich at Michigan. Before working with the Dodgers, he spent time with Ball State University, the Double-A San Antonio Missions and the Los Angeles Angels.
“(Fetter) is regarded as a rising star in the industry,” MLB analyst Jon Morosi tweeted. “His teaching approach is ideally suited to Detroit’s group of young pitchers.”
Fetter’s hiring by the #Tigers is a significant win for Detroit within the AL Central. He was the top choice among a number of high-level executives in the #WhiteSox front office for their pitching coach job. @MLBNetwork @MLB— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) November 6, 2020
Morosi said Fetter was a top choice for the White Sox and other MLB teams looking to hire a pitching coach, so this is a nice addition to Hinch’s coaching staff. He specializes in player development, so the timing couldn’t be better as the Tigers try to transition from rebuild to playoff contention.
“We’re thrilled to welcome Chris, his wife, Jessica and son, Cole into our Tigers family,” Hinch said. “His reputation as a top-level developer of pitching talent is known across baseball, and I couldn’t be happier to have him join our major league staff here in Detroit. Dating back to his playing days, I’ve always known Chris to be a very bright baseball mind, progressive thinker, and great communicator, all of which are essential traits of a successful coach.”
The Tigers have plenty of young pitchers for Fetter to work with, most notably Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal -- top 100 prospects who debuted at the MLB level in 2020.
Matt Manning is also considered close to a promotion, though he battled injuries this year. Between Mize, Skubal and Manning, the Tigers have arguably the top pitching prospect trio in the sport.
Joey Wentz, Alex Faedo and a handful of others could also have upside, if the Tigers have the right coaches in place for development.
In the MLB rotation, only Matt Boyd and Spencer Turnbull have established themselves as legitimate starting pitchers. Both have had their struggles, but figure to be at the top of the starting rotation when the Tigers break camp in a few months.
Fetter was a star pitcher for the Michigan baseball team from 2006-2009, making three All-Big Ten teams and earning All-American honors. Michigan won three conference titles and made four NCAA Tournament appearances during his career.
Fetter holds the Michigan record for career innings pitched and ranks third with 28 wins and 281 strikeouts.
He was drafted by the San Diego Padres in the ninth round and spent four years in the minors before becoming a coach.