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Alumni Notes: Former Flagler Pitcher and Coach Christopher Holt Now on Staff of Orioles

Oct 1, 2021
by John Jordan | Photo Credit: Baltimore Orioles

For any kid who has played the game of baseball, their dream is to make it to the Major Leagues and step into the batter's box at Wrigley Field or Fenway Park.

Former Flagler College player and pitching coach Chris Holt had that chance this spring with the Baltimore Orioles, but in a different capacity. In November 2020, he was named the pitching coach/director of pitching for the storied franchise.

“It's going to be a dog-fight every night and it is going to take a special group to compete in that division,” said Holt back in January. “We have a very capable and solid group of pitchers right now, and I am looking forward to building relationships with this staff, which can guide us towards a bright future.”

Baltimore has always been known for its pitching in the past with the likes of Jim Palmer, Mike Cuellar, Scott McGregor, Tippy Martinez, Mike Mussina, and many more. “Chris was truly a student of the game as a player and as a coach,” said Flagler College head baseball Coach Dave Barnett. “I am not surprised by his success as he communicates well with players and he is on top of pitching technology. He will be very effective in his role with the Orioles.”

Holt has blended both old school and new school approaches to pitching in his previous stops. He brings with him a belief in data and technology-driven development practices. Those practices have made an impact on some of the young arms in the Orioles organization, including many of its top prospects.

“The new approach to pitching is very much like when the Internet took off,” said Holt. “I grew with the technology. I knew what life was like before the Internet and I know what life is like as I've grown with it. It is the same way with the data and new technology.”

The Portland, Maine, native has traveled a long and winding road to get to where he is today. He started the odyssey at Saint Joseph's College in Standish, Maine before transferring to Flagler in 2001. After two seasons with the Saints, including earning honorable mention NAIA All-America and All-Florida Sun Conference honors, Holt was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 22nd round of the MLB First-Year Player Draft in 2002.

His first year in the Minors was with the Williamsport (Pa.) Crosscutters of the New York-Penn League. He made the transition to coaching not too long after. In 2004, he played and coached in Austria before coming back to his alma mater to serve as its pitching coach (2005-07) for Barnett.

Barnett played a big role in Holt's development as a pitcher and then as a pitching coach.

“Dave Barnett's coaching tree extends quite well, and includes Chris Roberts, Link Jarrett, and Dan Fitzgerald when I was there,” added Holt. Roberts and Jarrett both played at Florida State University and have coached collegiately as well as professionally, while Fitzgerald is currently a highly-regarded assistant coach at Dallas Baptist University.

“Coach has been a gigantic piece of everything that I have been able to do in my baseball career,” said Holt. “He stuck his neck out there and vouched for me with the pro scouts as a player and I had a chance to get drafted because he put my name out there. He has been a good person in my life and is really good mentor.”

From 2008-12, Holt served as a pitching coach at Allen D. Nease High School and Ponte Vedra (Fla.) High School, as well as working at a couple of baseball academies in Florida. “Those first coaching positions were probably some of the most formative years of my development,” he said. “It allowed me to focus on learning how to develop players and implement a system.”

Holt went on to be a scout for the Orioles from 2012 to 2013 before joining the Houston Astros organization. He had short stints as a pitching coach in the Minors with Short-Season Class A Tri-City (2014-15), Class A Quad Cities (2016), and Class A-Advanced Buies Creek (2017). In 2018, Holt served as the assistant pitching coordinator for the Astros.

Holt returned to the organization that gave him his start as a scout in 2019 as its Minor League pitching coordinator, and just this past season, got the dream promotion as director of pitching.

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