As the World Series against the Houston Astros raged in October, the Dodgers lost a high-ranking member of their baseball operations department when director of player development Gabe Kapler departed to become manager of the Philadelphia Phillies.
It took the Dodgers more than a month to announce his replacement: Brandon Gomes, who pitched several seasons for the Tampa Bay Rays when Andrew Friedman was the general manager. Friedman hired Gomes as a pitching coordinator for the Dodgers in the fall of 2016. The organization opted to promote an internal candidate to replace Kapler.
"He's a natural leader," Friedman said Wednesday morning as pitchers and catchers took part in their first workout of the spring. "Really inquisitive. Very good listener. The guys who work under him and with him really respect him."
When Friedman became the Dodgers president of baseball operations before the 2015 season, he inherited a farm system thriving with talent acquired by former GM Ned Colletti. The Dodgers have benefited from breakout performances in recent years by young players like Joc Pederson, Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger.
With Kapler running the player-development system, the team squeezed production out of less-heralded talents, with rookies surging to the majors capable of contributions. Players like Andrew Toles, Ross Stripling and Austin Barnes come to mind.
Friedman expects Gomes to maintain that pipeline.
"I think there were a lot of things that we did really well on the player-development side that he will continue," Friedman said. "And I think there are some things, like always, that we can do better, and that he's very in tune with. I just think he's got the right mind for the role. Obviously appreciating that there's going to be some type of learning curve, but just betting on him and his ability to digest the information, learn from mistakes and continue to propel us forward."