Tampa Bay Rays: Hitting Coach Chad Mottola Elected to AAA-IL Hall of Fame

Chad Mottola (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Chad Mottola (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

The Tampa Bay Rays may not have a player in the Major League Hall of Fame but one of their current coaches has been elected to the Triple-A International League Hall of Fame.

Tampa Bay Rays‘ hitting coach Chad Mottola was recently elected to the International League Hall of Fame for his contributions as player.

Mottola is entering his third season with the Rays. Between 2017 and 2018, under Mottola’s guidance, the Rays made the biggest improvements in batting average, on-base percentage, and strikeout percentage in the entire league.

He began his coaching career in the Blue Jays’ organization in 2009. By the next season, he had taken over as hitting coach for the Jays’ Triple-A affiliate. Mottola was in that position for three seasons before being promoted to the big leagues as hitting coach for the Toronto Blue Jays.

Playing Career

Prior to his coaching career, Mottola played 16 seasons as a professional ballplayer. Mottola was a stellar minor league player who worked his way into 59 major league games.

His best season came in 2000 at the age of 28 when he played 134 games for AAA-Syracuse (Toronto Blue Jays) and he scored 85 runs, 25 doubles, 3 triples, 33 homers, 102 RBI, and 30 stolen bases.

He slashed .309/.359/.566 that season and earned the International League MVP.

For his career in Triple-A he slashed .278/.333/.457 and racked up 193 homers and 1,434 hits in 1,348 games.

Mottola played for four different organizations throughout his 16-year career, the Reds, Blue Jays, Marlins, and Orioles.

Coaching with Rays

Chad Mottola began his Rays’ career in 2014 working in the minor leagues for three years until he was promoted to St. Pete to take over as hitting coach for the Rays.

His first year on the job, the Rays hit a franchise-best 228 homers. The Rays have become known for bringing in struggling or underachieving players and getting the best out of them.

Mottola is a key cog in the wheel of improvement. Examples of his work from last season can be seen in players like Avisail Garcia, Yandy Diaz, and Travis d’Arnaud.

Mottola was also credited with helping Willy Adames break out of his early-season slump.

Avisail Garcia

Last season with the Rays, Garcia beat his career slash line in all three categories. He slugged 44 points better than his career average entering the season.

Yandy Diaz

Yandy Diaz came to the Rays with immense power potential but only one homer in his two seasons with Cleveland. Despite missing half of the season in 2019, he hit 14 regular-season homers and added two more homers in the AL Wild Card game against the Athletics.

Travis d’Arnaud

Travis d’Arnaud was acquired for $100,000 after injuries struck Mike Zunino and Michael Perez early last year. TDA struggled with injuries over his prior six seasons and had a career slugging percentage of .406 prior to working with Mottola and the Rays.

d’Arnaud finished the 2019 season with a .459 slugging percentage and was a key middle of the lineup bat for the 96-win Rays.

2020 Challenges

Heading into the 2020 season Mottola is tasked with helping Mike Zunino turn things around at the plate following a season in which he hit .165.  Shortly after Zunino signed his $4.5 million contract reports surfaced that he was reaching out to Mottola as soon as possible. 

Beyond Zunino, Mottola has plenty of new faces to work with in 2020. Hunter Renfroe has enormous potential that the Rays are entrusting to Mottola to bring to the surface.

Yoshitomo Tsutsugo is a proven hitter…in Japan. Mottola is tasked with preparing him for Major League Baseball.

Congratulations Coach!

Rays Colored Glasses would like to congratulate Coach Mottola on his election to the International League Hall of Fame and wish him continued success in St. Pete!

Next. When Will Rays Get Hall of Fame Player?. dark

Tampa Bay may not have a player in the Hall of Fame, but they have a Hall of Fame hitting coach.