Rachel Balkovec confirmed to MLB.com last night that she will become the first female manager in affiliated professional baseball, chosen by the Yankees to manage the Low-A Tampa Tarpons next season. Via MLB.com:
Balkovec, 34, was serving as a hitting coach in the organization's rookie-level Florida Complex League. She has been a coach in professional baseball for 10 years, becoming the first female full-time hitting coach in an MLB organization when she took on her previous role in 2019.
"I'm not the first woman to have a position in baseball, but I know this is a little different," Balkovec said when she was tabbed as the FCL team's hitting coach. "I'm a product of the women who have come before me in sports. If somebody thinks I'm a trailblazer, great, because hopefully that's creating an opportunity to think it's possible for [others]."
Balkovec coached in the Australian Baseball League after the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the 2020 Minor League season, and was named to the coaching staff for the 2021 All-Star Futures Game at Coors Field prior to last season's Midsummer Classic.
Like most groundbreaking women, Rachel sounds like she might even be overqualified for the job.
Balkovec has an extensive background in cutting-edge analytics, researching eye tracking for hitters and hip movement for pitchers at Driveline Baseball, a data-driven performance center in Washington State. She also has a pair of master's degrees in the science of human movement.