By PAUL GOTHAM
The World Series champion Houston Astros set standards at the plate during the 2017 Major League Baseball season, and a Bishop Kearney and RIT Tiger alum made an impact. Now he is being rewarded for his work.
The Astros announced earlier this week that Jeff Albert has been named second hitting coach for the MLB club.
The Astros’ Minor League hitting coordinator for the past four seasons, Albert came to the club in 2012 after five seasons working as a Minor League hitting coach with the St. Louis Cardinals.
A roving hitting instructor Albert moved into the role of Astros’ Minor League hitting coordinator for the 2013 season. He has worked with a number of the Astros’ hitters including Carlos Correa when the current Astros’ shortstop was a member of the Lancaster JetHawks of the Advanced-A California League.
The former RIT Tiger and Butler Bulldog has helped the Astros develop plate discipline without limiting power.
“In baseball, there is a trend toward evaluating plate discipline,” Albert told USA Today in 2014. “We say it’s important. We’re actually backing that up.”
But, as their numbers show, the Astros accomplished that in 2017 while still driving the baseball. Per CBS Sports, Houston hitters led MLB in slugging percentage (.478) while maintaining the lowest strikeout rate (17.3) during the regular season.
Albert, a member of the 1997 Section V Class A2 champion Bishop Kearney Kings under hall-of-fame coach Ed Nietopski, played two years at RIT before transferring to Butler where he finished his college career. He earned his degree in finance from Butler in 2003 and went on to Louisiana Tech University where he received a Master’s in Exercise Science.
Albert started as a hitting coach with the Batavia Muckdogs (then in the Cardinals’ farm system) in 2008. From 2009-11 he worked as a hitting coach with the Palm Beach Cardinals (Advanced-A Florida State League). In 2010, he served as the hitting coach for the Barranquilla Caimanes of Colombia Winter League. He also worked with Tigres del Licey of the Dominican Winter League from 2015-16.
Albert is the first Kearney King to become a coach at the Major League level. RIT’s Will Gorman was taken in the 2017 MLB Draft. Gorman was the first draft pick out of the Tigers program since 1983.