Anthony Iapoce has a pretty big weight on his shoulders in his new gig with the Texas Rangers as hitting coach — the sixth guy to hold that position with the Rangers in the past eight seasons.
Iapoce has some pretty nice skins for his wall, however, given his success in grooming some of the game's top, young hitters in the Chicago Cubs' minor-league system, including phenom Kris Bryant, who won the NL Rookie of the Year award this past season.
The Cubs weren't too happy to see Iapoce leave, but like all successful coaches, he got his chance in the bigs and the Cubs knew he'd take it, according to the Dallas Morning News.
"What separates Anthony is the mindset with which he approaches the job every day," said Jason McLeod, Cubs senior vice president for player development and amateur scouting. "He played such as huge part in our change of culture.
"He's incredibly positive, not in a rah-rah, pat-you-on-the-back way but in a way that makes players feel positive about themselves."
Iapoce, who played college baseball at Lamar, said the Rangers hitters are basically already following his mantra of being really aggressive until they have two strikes and then changing their approach, a problem several Rangers had last year that led to a lot of weak groundballs.
"That environment is already set up," Iapoce said. "When you watch them play from afar, as I did last year, you could see the energy in the lineup and the dugout.
"I'm just coming in, trying to fit in, see where they need me and help out as best I can."
If Iapoce's prodigies, including Bryant, tell us anything, it's that the Rangers seem to have finally found their guy. At least they hope so.