Future Stars Series Advisory Board Profile: Darnell Coles

Darnell Coles has been everywhere a Future Stars Series player could possibly want to be.

It makes his presence on the advisory board all the more valuable, providing the unique experience of having had a long, illustrious playing career that took him all the way to a World Series championship and now as a hitting coach in the big leagues with the Washington Nationals.

Also a basketball and track standout, the California native turned down both baseball and football scholarships at UCLA to sign with the Seattle Mariners, who had taken him with the sixth overall pick in the 1980 Draft, the same year that Los Angeles native Darryl Strawberry went first overall to the Mets.

After several years of climbing through the Mariners system, Coles debuted the same year Strawberry did, 1983, starting an incredible 14-year run in the majors as a valuable and versatile player with Seattle, Detroit, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Cincinnati, Toronto, St. Louis and Colorado, not to mention a run in Japan towards the end of his career as well.

Coles ended his big league career with nearly 1,000 games played and was a .245 hitter with 75 home runs and 368 RBI including career bests of 20 homers and 86 RBI in his first season with Detroit in 1986.

A winner of the World Series in 1993 with the Blue Jays, Coles eventually got into coaching, first working with the Nationals as their roving hitting instructor in 2006 before eventually going on to manage several of their minor league teams and then working as a hitting coach at the Triple-A level. He’d also dabbled in television work prior to that as an analyst for ESPN at the first ever World Baseball Classic.

Coles eventually joined the Milwaukee Brewers organization as a minor-league manager before being hired by the Detroit Tigers as their assistant hitting coach for the 2014 season. He’s been in the big leagues ever since; spending four years with Milwaukee, three with Arizona, and now set for a first season in a return to Washington’s organization.

He’s been a big part of the success of whatever team he’s been on — Detroit led the American League in batting, on-base-percentage and slugging in his first year there, for example — and is an extremely well-respected member of the advisory board, particularly with president and CEO Jeremy Booth, who crossed paths with Coles while both were in the Brewers system.

“DC has transformed organizational philosophies and as such the hitters within,” Booth said.

“You’ve seen some of your most notable players have career windows of success when they’ve been with him, and that’s not an accident. DC embraces technology and its advances but has an innate ability to work that into his planning and approach. The results are spectacular if he’s able to do what he does well, and that’s develop winning, competitive hitters. Personally, he’s a scholar of the game, an excellent friend, a willing and dedicated mentor, and every ounce of respect he gets was earned by fire. He’s an automatic hire for me if I’m running a club and I sleep very well after he’s got the reigns.”

Mike Ashmore

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