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Former Nationals’ farmhand Will Rhymes has ties to Nats’ new pitching coach Jim Hickey...

SB Nation logo SB Nation 10/20/2020 David Driver
a baseball player holding a bat © Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images

WASHINGTON – Former William & Mary and Major League infielder Will Rhymes has ties to the Nationals, Dodgers, and Rays. And they have all come together in the past 24 hours or so.

He is the director of player development for Los Angeles, and has spent the past two years working with new Washington pitching coach Jim Hickey. Rhymes and Hickey in 2012 were part of Tampa Bay, which faces the Dodgers in the World Series this week.

Hickey, 58, was named the new pitching coach on Monday for Washington. He has held the same job for Houston, Tampa Bay, and the Chicago Cubs.

“We were fortunate to have Hick with us the last couple years,” Rhymes, 37, wrote in an e-mail to Federal Baseball on Tuesday. “He roved to our affiliates and functioned as a sounding board for our players and staff. His experience at both the major and minor league levels gives him a perspective that is rare, and unique in our group. He quickly got up to speed on our pitchers and gave us valuable insights on our own. He fit in seamlessly with the existing relationships with many in our organization” with Tampa Bay ties.

Hickey began as the Tampa Bay pitching coach in 2007. The team won only 66 games that year but the next season made the World Series – the last trip for the team until this month.

“The main thing I remember about Jim during my brief time w/ the Rays in [2012] was how much the pitching staff trusted and leaned on him. Players up and down the [organization] spoke very highly of him and were excited to work with him once in the big leagues. The Rays’ staff valued connecting with all types of players and treating everyone from veterans to rookies equally, to ensure everyone felt comfortable in the environment,” added Rhymes, who played at Triple-A Syracuse in the Washington system at the end of his pro career in 2013-14.

Some of the pitchers in Tampa Bay that Hickey worked with were David Price, Chris Archer, James Shields, Alex Cobb, Scott Kazmir, and Jeremy Hellickson, who later pitched for Washington.

“It was a pretty diverse group of players at different points in their careers, and he got a ton out of them and many went on to excel after leaving the Rays. He had a huge impact on so many guys,” Rhymes noted.

Rhymes, who played with the Tigers in 2010-11, is now with a Dodgers’ franchise looking for its first World Series title since 1988.

The Houston native joined Los Angeles before the 2019 season.

“I’m so proud and fortunate to be a part of the Dodgers organization,” he wrote. “Nevermore so than this season, the flexibility and grit that has been demonstrated. From Day 1, the attitude was, if there’s a championship to be won in ‘20, we want to win it. I think the underlining strength of our [organization] the people at every level have allowed us to function in the uncertainty and problem solve in a changing environment.”

“I had zero plan when I got done playing, I poured everything into my playing career with no concern for what the future would hold. At the time I had no immediate plans to work in player development. The old, William and Mary Biology degree didn’t have any immediate use. I settled on a pro scouting job with the Dodgers as an opportunity to join a group I had a ton of respect for. It wasn’t until spending a couple years on this side of the game that the draw to player development became strong. I was fortunate that an opportunity opened up and I was considered,” he added.

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