Following Derek Jeter’s departure from the Marlins organization this offseason, one of his original and appointees has been relieved. On Wednesday afternoon, Craig Mish of SportsGrid broke the news that the team has parted ways with Vice President of Player Development and Scouting Gary Denbo.
Denbo was a Jeter guy even before the start. One of the new regime’s first hires, Denbo joined the Marlins’ organization in 2017, replacing Mark DelPiano. In a controversial move, Jeter had asked then outgoing team president David Samson to inform DelPiano and three others of their releases before Jeter officially took over the team. Denbo and Jeter were well acquainted friends and colleagues as a result of spending seven seasons together in the organization. With the Yankees, Denbo first served as a hitting coach in 2001 before returning to the organization in 2009 as a player development executive. In 2011, Jeter attributed improvements in his swing made while he was on the IL to Denbo’s teachings.
But that was far from Denbo’s only qualification. Beginning in 2015, Denbo completely overhauled the Yankees’ farm system. He remodeled the organization’s image from the perennial mortgagers of young talent to a club that can effectively build from within. In Denbo’s years, the Yankees developed positional prospects such as Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Miguel Andujar, Gleyber Torres and others to become a much more prominent minor league system.
In his tenure with the Marlins, the organization experienced a similar rise up farm system rankings. In 2016, Miami ranked as the second worst farm system in baseball. Today, most major outlets concur that the system is amongst the top five. While pitching development flourished, Denbo’s major crux with the Marlins was getting the most out of his positional talent. Though Denbo has used similar tactics he used with the Yankees such as bringing his preseason tutelage and education program for top prospects Captain’s Camp to Miami and while pitching development has flourished, heavily invested in prospects such as JJ Bleday, Victor Victor Mesa, Connor Scott, Jordan McCants, Kahlil Watson and others have so far struggled to live up to their believed potential. Denbo also drew ire for not advocating for pay for minor league players in extended spring training and providing players with their own bedrooms at every MiLB affiliate. The Marlins are one of just three organizations in baseball who do not provide at least one of those accommodations.
Furthermore, Denbo was at times unpopular for other HR related decisions and treatment of employees he managed.
With Denbo moving on, the Marlins have several in house options who could fill his position. Highly-heralded for his work in the last few MLB Drafts, Senior Director of Amateur Scouting DJ Svihlik is an obvious option. It would seem Svihlik will take on increased responsibility in the meanwhile as the MLB Draft approaches. Director of Pro Scouting Hadi Raad, Director of Player Development Geoff DeGroot and Director of Minor League Operations Hector Crespo are other qualified candidates.
While all of those names are deserving, like Denbo, they all have ties to the Yankees. It will be very interesting to see the direction the organization goes as they continue to operate sans Jeter.