Over the last several seasons, the Yankees have sought to upgrade their minor league coaching ranks under the guidance of minor league hitting coordinator Dillon Lawson and pitching coordinator Sam Briend. College baseball has become a type of breeding ground for cutting edge training methods, and many of the Yankees new coaches have come from the college coaching ranks. In late 2019, Lawson hired Ari Adut from Los Angeles Valley College to be one of the Yankees hitting coaches for their team that was preparing to play in the Dominican Summer League. Adut took the time to discuss with us his unique path to the Yankees organization and his background in the sport.
Adut did not come up in a baseball loving family, as his father was an immigrant from Israel and not familiar with the sport. He first remembers playing and getting into baseball around age 11, mostly due to his friends at the time. Growing up in Southern California, he remembers cheering for the Dodgers his whole life, but his mom was recently able to find an assignment from middle school where he said that he wanted to play for the Yankees.
Adut was active in multiple sports while growing up in Southern California, but never considered among the best players in his high-school. For many young men, the game ends after high-school, especially after being cut from the varsity team during their senior year as Ari was. He continued seeking out opportunities to play and crossed paths with some of the names that would go on to play a major role in his coaching development.
George Genovese is the namesake of The Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation’s lifetime achievement award after a career that saw him sign over 40 major leaguers. Adut was able to land a spot on Genovese’s scout team that was playing around the area. He also pursued playing time in various adult leagues that he could find.
While playing for multiple teams, Adut also found a job working for two coaches named Daris Toussaint and Glen Raasch at their batting cage. Toussaint quickly became a mentor to Adut and the two talk to this day. One of the biggest lessons he learned was the attention to detail required to run a successful operation. No matter if his job involved folding and hanging promotional flyers for the batting cage or working around the facility, he was held to a high standard and he has carried those lessons with him since.
Without a commitment to playing time, Adut arrived at Los Angeles Valley College and was able to earn playing time and postseason recognition for his performance. He also drew the attention of East Central University in Oklahoma where he continued to play at the Division II level. He credits coach Dearth Parker with being a major influence on him as he continued to develop as a player.
Adut played for another two seasons after college as part of the independent Pecos League traveling. Arriving in Garden City, Kansas, his first exposure to the league was to find out the head coach he was planning on playing for had been fired. As part of this league, he was traveling around the central and southwest part of the country on long trips to small cities and towns.
While playing several months a year, Adut reconnected with the coaching staff at Los Angeles Valley College, and was offered the chance to help coach. After telling head coach Dave Mallas that he just wanted to help with the team and not be too deeply involved, he promptly found himself coaching first base during his first game back with the team.
Unable to secure a spot in affiliated baseball as a player, Adut turned to coaching and teaching at Los Angeles Valley College as he had also earned his Masters Degree in Kinesiology. He began to put the different training techniques and practice situations that his teams were doing on social media and generated a small following. He was unware that this content had drawn the interest of major league organizations.
“I was applying for some JUCO head coaching jobs,” Adut said about the next step he was planning on taking. A direct message on Twitter from Yankees minor league hitting coordinator Dillon Lawson was the first clue that Adut was getting noticed by professional teams. After some back and forth on messaging, the two were 40 minutes into a phone call when Ari stopped and said “wait, is this a job interview?”
Indeed, it was an interview, and after shouting several expletives and then apologizing the conversation continued well enough for Adut to land a job with the Yankees. Being a fluent Spanish speaker certainly helped his resume, and Adut’s first assignment was as a hitting coach at the Yankees facility in the Dominican Republic.
Adut’s early experiences in the Dominican were cut short by the pandemic, but in his time there, he was able to work with the Yankees’ top prospect, Jasson Dominguez. As a JUCO coach from the west coast he came into the organization with little working knowledge of the Yankees prospects, but his first impressions of Dominguez are that he has a quiet confidence that is backed up by tremendous skill at a young age. Beyond Dominguez, he has been impressed by the skill level of all the players at the Yankees facility.
During the shutdown of operations, Adut returned to the Tampa area, where he has been a resource communicating with the Spanish speaking players who have remained stateside throughout the events of 2020.
The Yankees have put in a lot of effort to improve their player development system over the last few years. Ari Adut’s journey to the Yankees system is a lesson in hard work and accepting new challenges, lessons he will certainly be imparting to the players he helping on their own developmental paths.