MIAMI – Rachel Palkovic has agreed to become the Marlins' director of player development, sources tell MLB.com. The club did not confirm the news.
Balkovic, 36, is no stranger to the minor league scene, having served in various capacities across three organizations since beginning her professional baseball career in 2012. For the past two seasons, she has been the Yankees' first-class reliever. A baseball pioneer, she was the first woman to:
according to Story by Rob Terranova of MiLB.com, Balkovic has a background in cutting-edge analytics, having started as an exercise science major at Creighton and New Mexico, where she was an NCAA Division I player on their softball teams. Palkovich then earned his master's degree in kinesiology from LSU in 2012.
After graduation, Balkovic served as the interim strength and conditioning coach in the Cardinals organization for Rookie Advanced Johnson City and went on to win the Appalachian League Strength Coach of the Year award. In 2014, she became the first woman to be hired as a full-time professional baseball coordinator. Two years later, she was hired by the Astros as the organization's strength and conditioning coordinator in Latin America. In 1818, she was hired as the strength and conditioning coach for the club's Double-A team.
Balkovic later worked on her master's degree at Vrije Universiteit in the Netherlands, where she researched human movement sciences with a focus on biomechanics. She has spent time researching eye tracking of hitters and hip motion of pitchers at the data-driven performance center Driveline Baseball. Palkovic also coached in the Australian Baseball League after the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the 2020 minor league season, and she was named to the coaching staff for the ’21 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at Coors Field.
Balkovic will be the latest hire to the front office under new president of baseball operations Peter Bendix, who brought in Gabe Kapler (assistant general manager) and Vinesh Kanthan (director of baseball operations), as he restructures the organization. In September 2022, Miami let go of director of player development Jeff DeGroot. Since then, Hector Crespo, director of minor league operations, has held his position but has not captured the title. The Marlins farm system has struggled to produce homegrown players in recent years, and has fallen in MLB Pipeline's rankings due to a combination of drafting, development and trade deadline moves to reach the 2023 postseason.
“Beer enthusiast. Subtly charming alcohol junkie. Wannabe internet buff. Typical pop culture lover.”