photo: Dusty Blake and Duke players (via Twitter)
In 2020, the St. Louis Cardinals added a new position on their major league coaching staff, as former minor league infielder Patrick “Packy” Elkins was brought into the uniformed ranks as the “Run Production Coach”. The title seems quite self-explanatory, with a focus on deploying data to get more out of the offense.
For 2021, the team has made another addition to address the other key aspect of the game – pitching. St. Louis’ uniformed major league coaching staff has been expanded with the creation of the “Pitching Strategist” position. The man named to the job is well-known in the collegiate ranks, former Duke University pitching coach Dusty Blake.
Blake, 39, joined the Blue Devils in 2017, having served as assistant coach and pitching coach. His responsibilities included day-to-day operations for Duke’s pitchers as well as managing scouting reports. His charges set new school season records in strikeouts in both 2018 and 2019, and were 14th in the nation in the latter year.
Prior to Duke, Blake served as head coach and associate athletic director at NCAA Division II Pfeiffer University (NC). He led the Falcons to back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 2003-04 while also leading the team to consecutive appearances in the conference tournament championship game along with raising funds to improve facilities.
Earlier, Blake coached at USC Upstate, Wofford College, Catawba College and in the Coastal Plain League (summer ball) after opening his coaching career at Pfeiffer as pitching coach and outfield instructor.
Since 2012, Blake has served on the advisory board of the non-profit organization which hosts free clinics, repairs fields, provides equipment and offers mentorship opportunities within the Charlotte, North Carolina community.
Blake graduated from Appalachian State University in 2003 with a bachelor’s degree in physical education and played baseball as a 6-foot-3, 190-pound pitcher for the Mountaineers from 1999-2003. He received his master’s degree in organizational business and leadership from Pfeiffer in 2006.
Dusty hails from Candor, North Carolina. He and his wife Amy reside in Boiling Springs, South Carolina with their daughter, Mia.
Note: With this hiring, the Cardinals did not net up one coaching position for 2021. Blake essentially takes the spot of 2019-2020 “Run Prevention Coach” Joey Prebynski, who has taken a position with the Los Angeles Angels.
For further background
In the following podcast from 2020, Blake discusses his coaching background and philosophies in considerable depth.
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