Katie Krall, a first-year development coach for the Portland Sea Dogs, listens with players during a meeting before a pregame practice at Hadlock Field on Wednesday. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

As she walked across Park Avenue near the end of her commute to work – a daily 15-minute stroll to Hadlock Field before a recent Portland Sea Dogs game – Katie Krall looked down in surprise.

Those white crosswalk stripes painted on the pavement not far from the Slugger statue? Turns out they’re elongated baseball bats rather than the typical rectangles.

“Oh, I didn’t notice that,” Krall said. “That’s awesome.”

Pedestrian-friendly stencils outside the ballpark are about the only aspects related to baseball that have escaped Krall’s attention this spring, her first as a barrier-breaking development coach for the Boston Red Sox Double-A affiliate.

Krall, 25, is the first female coach in Sea Dogs history. She’s in uniform, in the dugout and in the clubhouse. Before games, she divides her time between bullpen sessions, batting practice and opposition research. In several games, she has coached first base.

She also serves as something of a translator for the vast amount of analytical data the Red Sox collect on their minor leaguers, transforming esoteric information into bite-sized chunks more easily digestible for players and coaches.


“All that data that comes in,” said fellow Sea Dogs coach Chris Hess, “she’s able to filter it down to the specific thing that we need to look at. She can point out why things are happening.”

Hess, 27, spent last year coaching in Class A Fort Myers alongside Bianca Smith, the other woman employed by the Red Sox as a professional baseball coach. Smith earned a degree from Dartmouth and Krall from Northwestern. They are among the women gracing the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine’s June edition commemorating the 50th anniversary of Title IX.

Katie Krall jogs back to first base after grabbing a player’s batting glove. She was serving as Portland’s first base coach during the game, a role she fills on occasion. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Hess said players and other coaches quickly adapt to having a woman in uniform. Aside from needing a separate changing room (more challenging at some minor-league ballparks than at others), “it’s no different than any other coach. They show up, they do their work, just like the rest of us.”

In addition to her new role with the Red Sox, Krall also wrapped up work on her MBA this spring at the University of Chicago. Commencement is scheduled for June 4.

She joined the Red Sox after a brief stint with Google as a global strategist. Before that, she spent two seasons as a baseball operations analyst with the Cincinnati Reds following a 20-month fellowship at Major League Baseball’s headquarters in New York City.

“She’s wicked smart,” said Sea Dogs manager Chad Epperson. “Sometimes I have to tell her, ‘Hey Katie, I have a Seminole JC degree – which is the Harvard of (junior colleges), by the way – but explain it a little different.’ ”


Krall’s background in baseball is deep. She wears No. 43 in honor of her godfather, Rick Stelmaszek, who served as the Minnesota Twins bullpen coach under five different managers over 32 years. Her grandfather, John Etten, was a left-handed pitcher who opted for Loyola University instead of signing with the St. Louis Cardinals and became a college professor (as did her grandmother).

A cousin from her grandfather’s generation, Nick Etten, played first base for three teams in a nine-year major league career and in 1944 led the American League with 22 home runs while playing for the Yankees.

“Katie comes from a big baseball family,” said her mother, Joan Krall, who visited Hadlock Field this month along with her other daughter (Katie’s twin sister, Annie) and tossed a ceremonial first pitch to Katie on Mother’s Day.

Katie Krall, development coach for the Sea Dogs, watches players warm up at Hadlock Field during a practice on Wednesday. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

The idea for that celebration came from Epperson, Portland’s first-year manager who spent the previous 12 seasons as the Red Sox catching coordinator.

“I think it’s gone very well so far,” Epperson said of having Krall on his staff. “This is a role we haven’t had before, so (Krall) is educating us on it as well. She’s providing us with some information that normally we probably wouldn’t be getting if we didn’t have this role.”

During spring training, Red Sox farm directors Brian Abraham and Chris Stasio gave the minor-league development coaches what Krall called “a macro-level perspective of what they wanted,” but that there’s also a “choose-your-own-adventure component” to the situation at each level of Boston’s minor-league system.


Their mission is the same, whether at Triple-A Worcester or down the ladder through Double-A Portland and Class A Greenville and Salem: Funnel information not only to players but to fellow coaches. Identify “what metrics are valuable and how they can use the resources the analytics department has,” Krall said, “to complement what they’re currently doing.”

If an opposing relief pitcher is coming into the game, upcoming Sea Dogs batters will ask Krall for the skinny on what the guy throws. One hitter may only want to know the maximum fastball velocity. Another may want more granular details, such as vertical break on various pitches.

Sea Dogs first base coach Katie Krall chats with Pedro Castellanos after he reached base in a game against Reading at Hadlock Field on May 5. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

In a bullpen session, Krall can use technology to provide immediate feedback to a pitcher working on refining his technique. Reliever Jacob Wallace explained that a slider might show good horizontal movement but lack an effective sinking motion.

“The horizontal movement is good, but when a bat comes in swinging on that plane, it has more chance of making contact,” he said. “When you have depth, that creates another element that could provide a swing and a miss, and a better pitch. So her diving into those numbers, and showing me that on seven out of 10 pitches I get more depth … those are the ones that I need to feel and know that I’m throwing a better pitch when I’m throwing them like that.”

It could be a certain amount of pressure on one finger or another that helps Wallace shape the more effective slider.

“That little adjustment can be something that gets me an extra strikeout a game, or an extra swing and miss rather than a ball put in play with runners on base,” he said. “The tiniest tweak can be game-changing.”


Wallace, who grew up in Massachusetts and played at UConn, is in his third year of pro ball. He knows a bit about analytics, but not at the level Krall has studied.

“She’s really good with that stuff,” he said, “so I’m open to listen and see what she has to say, because it’s only going to help me. It doesn’t matter whether she’s a woman or not. She’s a student of the game, and I respect that. I appreciate that.”

Doug Clark, Portland’s hitting coach, also is new to the Red Sox organization, having worked the previous seven years in the San Francisco Giants farm system. The Giants also had coaches who specialized in player development, an area in which Krall is particularly proficient, he said.

“She’s really good at making sure we document and keep track of a player’s goals and how we’re progressing or regressing on those,” he said. “Because during the course of a season, a coach can get so intertwined with the games and practices and things like that, that it’s good to have somebody who’s making sure we’re focusing our work not just on the winning and losing but on the development of each player, too.”

Katie Krall’s specialty is analyzing and translating the voluminous data collected on Red Sox prospects in Portland, but the Northwestern University grad is equally comfortable conversing with players on everything from cuisine to golfing. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

As well-versed in technology as she is, Krall also sports an affable manner and is comfortable conversing with everyone from all backgrounds. She can talk Caribbean cuisine with right fielder Izzy Wilson or professional golfing with Kole Cottam, whose brother Kyle recently qualified for PGA Tour Canada.

“She’s very approachable,” said Cottam, the Sea Dogs catcher. “She did a good job of getting to know us first before she started giving us all the information, and tried to learn how we liked the information presented. … She’s very good at her job, but even a better person.”


Krall doesn’t own a car. Although she walks to Hadlock for home games, she catches a ride home with Sea Dogs broadcaster Emma Tiedemann. Both have found Portland to be a welcoming place to pursue their dreams.

For Krall, initial concerns about not being accepted by the players have disappeared. That women such as Tiedemann, Smith and Eastern League umpire Jen Pawol (who is working the Sea Dogs’ current series with Somerset at Hadlock Field) also populate professional baseball’s landscape helps to normalize Krall’s situation.

“(Players) recognize that you’re in this position for the right reasons,” she said. “If you’re truly there to help them, then it doesn’t really matter your race, your age or your gender.”

She knows that technology jobs with Google or Microsoft or some Silicon Valley start-up will always be available to her if she chooses to pursue them. For now, however, she’s happy to be wearing a baseball uniform and blazing a trail through a landscape long dominated by men.

“I do not take for granted how well they’ve treated me, and the working relationships that we’ve developed,” she said. “The past few months have been beyond anything I could have expected.”

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