Detroit Tigers hire Ryan Garko as new vice president of player development

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The Detroit Tigers announced Thursday the addition of Ryan Garko as the new vice president of player development. He takes over the position previously held by Dave Littlefield, who was reassigned by general manager Al Avila in late August as part of numerous front office moves.

Garko, 40, has spent the past two seasons with the Los Angeles Angels. He served as their coaching assistant and instant replay coordinator, focusing on the use of analytics in the clubhouse and dugout and for game-planning strategies on offense.

He was the head coach at the University of Pacific from 2018-19 and managed Double-A Tulsa — an affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers — for parts of the 2016 and 2017 seasons. His coaching career began at Stanford in 2013 as an assistant coach.

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Like Tigers manager AJ Hinch, Garko played baseball at Stanford, from 2000-03. He won the Johnny Bench Award, given to the top catcher in college, before Cleveland drafted him in the third round in 2003.

Garko competed in MLB for six seasons with Cleveland (2005-09), San Francisco Giants (2009) and Texas Rangers (2010). He finished his career with a .275 batting average, 55 home runs, 250 RBIs, 125 walks and 272 strikeouts over 463 gams. The first baseman and catcher also played for the Samsung Lions in the Korean Baseball Organization in 2011.

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In late August, the Tigers promoted Sam Menzin and Jay Sartori to vice president/general manager titles. The moves were made to ignite a greater push to integrate new-age analytics into the team's makeup.

After Littlefield was reassigned, Kenny Graham handled the VP of player development duties on an interim basis. Graham has been the Tigers' director of player development since November 2019 with an emphasis on hitting development and strategies.

Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Tigers hire Ryan Garko as VP of player development