What a whirlwind this morning for the lower levels of the Rays farm system as four different affiliates announced their coaching staffs for this coming season.
The Short Season-A Hudson Valley Renegades, the Low-A Bowling Green Hot Rods, the High-A Charlotte Stone Crabs, and the Double-A Montgomery Biscuits all announced their 2014 field staffs today, and many of the names are taking a step up from their previous destinations.
Making his managing debut in the pro ranks is new Renegades manager Tim Parenton, a veteran college coach who most recently managed the University of North Florida. Jorge Moncada, who was called up to Hudson Valley last year from the Venezuelan Summer League, will spend his first full year with the Renegades. Ex-big leaguer Manny Castillo heads down from Bowling Green to be the hitting coach while Brian Newman will return to his previous role as athletic trainer after a one year hiatus in the Golf Coast League.
In Kentucky, the Hot Rods welcome in their fourth manager in six years since moving from Columbus, Georgia, by naming 2013 Hudson Valley Renegades manager Michael Johns, where he lead the 2012 New York-Penn League champions to a 38-37 record in Short Season-A. Johns will be joined by pitching coach Bill Moloney (with the Stone Crabs last year), hitting coach Dan DeMent (coming from Hudson Valley) and athletic trainer Nick Flynn (Princeton).
Moving up from the Hot Rods is Jared Sandberg, who will be the third manager in the same six year timespan as the Hot Rods for the Stone Crabs. The former Devil Ray Sandberg helped lead Bowling Green to the Midwest League Second Half Championship last year. Sandberg’s tenure in Port St. Charlotte will mark his 5th year in the Rays organization, including the Renegades’ 2012 NYPL Championship. Sandberg will be joined by pitching coach Steve Watson, coming back from Hudson Valley, and returners hitting coach Joe Szekely and athletic coach Scott Thurston.
Over in Dixie, the Biscuits will welcome former Stone Crabs manager Brady Williams to become just their third manager in team history. Williams lead Charlotte to a 67-65 record last season, but that is quite misleading as they won the second-half championship in the Florida State League and made an appearance in the FSL Championship Game. Williams will be in good hands, as he has Ozzie Timmons returning as hitting coach, R.C. Lichtenstein returning as pitching coach, and Kris Russell returning as athletic trainer.
The Rays are keeping just about everything in house, with Parenton being the only addition. As shown by their manager, Joe Maddon, minor league baseball isn’t just for players and finding coaching talent is valuable as well. Best of luck to all the coaches with their new clubs.