Seeking to put his own stamp on the organization while bringing a new direction to a farm system that was sluggish in churning out position players this season, Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said on Saturday the team has fired farm director Bobby Williams and minor-league hitting coach Ralph Dickenson.
Williams, who was fired on Friday, could be reassigned to another role within the organization, while Dickenson is leaving the Nationals, Rizzo said. He also said there could be more changes to the farm system.
“Those are two vital parts of player development,” Rizzo said. “I want to get people in there that I know well and I trust, and that are going to implement my ideas and my systems throughout the minor leagues. I just feel a change needed to be made.”
While Rizzo said he isn’t planning a massive overhaul of the farm system, there do figure to be more shakeups in a farm system that has moved precious few position players to the major leagues.
Class AAA Syracuse shortstop Ian Desmond could make his major-league debut yet this month, but most of the Nationals’ top position players – Chris Marrero, Michael Burgess and Derek Norris, to name a few – are still at Class AA or lower.
“Certain players haven’t developed the way we thought they would,” Rizzo said. “That’s often not the fault of the farm director. It’s the fault of the player himself, often. It’s just that my system and the way I want to do things needs to be implemented the way I want it to be implemented.”
Given the other hires Rizzo needs to make (like an assistant general manager and a permanent field manager), replacing Williams and Dickenson probably won’t be at the top of his priority list.
He said he’ll start with a list of people he’s worked with in his time as a scout and an executive and hope to have the positions filled this winter.
“I’m very satisfied with many of the people we’ve got in scouting and player development and the front office,” Rizzo said. “There’s just a few tweaks that we’re going to fix, and we’ll see where that leads us.”