Spring Training is approaching and that means teams are finalizing their minor league coaching staffs. I know there’s nothing exciting about minor league coaches — there’s barely anything exciting about Major League coaches — but these folks will train and develop the next wave of Yankees. There’s no glory to being a minor league coach, but these folks are very important.
The Yankees and the various minor league affiliates have announced their 2019 coaching staffs over the last few weeks. Here’s a level-by-level breakdown.
Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders
Manager: Jay Bell
Pitching Coach: Tommy Phelps
Hitting Coach: Phil Plantier
Bullpen Coach: Doug Davis
Athletic Trainer: Darren London
Strength & Conditioning Coach: Brad Hyde
Video: Manager: Joe Wielbruda
Perhaps most notable for scoring the winning run on Luis Gonzalez’s walk-off bloop single in Game Seven of the 2001 World Series, Bell is entering his third season in the organization. He managed High-A Tampa in 2017 and Double-A Trenton in 2018. He replaces Bobby Mitchell, who did not have his contract renewed following last season, as Scranton’s manager in 2019.
“I’m certainly excited about this opportunity,” Bell said in a statement. “I truly enjoy the New York Yankees approach to player development. The organization’s code revolves around respect, hard work and creating a winning atmosphere. We will strive to help players achieve their goals with an eye on making an impact in the Majors.”
Two years ago Baseball America named Bell the top managerial prospect in the High-A Florida State League. He has big league coaching experience with the Diamondbacks (bench coach from 2005-06), Pirates (hitting coach in 2013), and Reds (bench coach from 2014-15). Bell has said he wants to get back to the big leagues and this might be his final year in the system. If the Yankees don’t promote him to the MLB staff next year, another team could steal him away.
“Winning is important. Winning is important for player development,” Bell said to DJ Eberle. “Player development is not just about getting guys ready individually, but it’s about getting guys ready collectively. It is important to win. It is important to create that culture at the minor league level as well. I want as much success as we’ve had in Scranton the last four years — I want to continue that success.”
Phelps, Plantier, Davis, London, and Hyde are all returning to the RailRiders. This will be Phelps’ fourth season as the team’s pitching coach and Plantier’s second as hitting coach. This Doug Davis is not that Doug Davis, the former big league southpaw. This is a different Doug Davis. The RailRiders are looking for their fourth division title in five years in 2019.
Double-A Trenton Thunder
Manager: Patrick Osborn
Pitching Coach: Tim Norton
Hitting Coach: Ty Hawkins
Defensive Coach: Raul Dominguez
Bullpen Coach: Jason Phillips
Athletic Trainer: Jimmy Downam
Strength & Conditioning Coach: Anthony Velazquez
Video Manager: Mike Triller
Another move up the ladder for Osborn. This is his sixth year in the organization and he’s previously managed one of the two Rookie Gulf Coast League teams (2014), Short Season Staten Island (2015), High-A Tampa (2016 and 2018), and Low-A Charleston (2017). Osborn is said to be extremely popular with his players and he’s been considered something of a rising managerial star in the organization. He’s a new school guy with a grasp of analytics but also experience in player development.
Phillips is that Jason Phillips. The former big leaguer and Mets backup catcher. He retired as a player following Spring Training 2009 and has spent the last few years as a big league bullpen catcher with the Mariners (2009-15) and Blue Jays (2016-18). Now he’s making the transition from big league bullpen catcher to minor league bullpen coach. Norton, Hawkins, Dominguez, Downam, and Velasquez are all returning to Trenton. Norton spent a few years in the system as a bullpen prospect and was on the cusp of a big league call-up in 2011 before getting hurt. The Yankees had to scramble after that and wound up signing Cory Wade.
High-A Tampa Tarpons
Manager: Aaron Holbert
Pitching Coach: Jose Rosado
Hitting Coach: Joe Migliaccio
Defensive Coach: Kevin Mahoney
Catching Coach: Michel Hernandez
Athletic Trainer: Michael Becker
Strength & Conditioning Coach: Jacob Dunning
Welcome back to the coaching ranks, Aaron Holbert. He has been with the Yankees as a scout since 2016 and this will be his first coaching or managerial gig in the organization. Holbert played in the big leagues briefly (one game in 1996 and 22 games in 2005, so quite a gap there) and he has prior minor league managerial experience with the Indians. Holbert is essentially replacing Mitchell in the organization’s minor league managerial rotation.
Migliaccio is a new hire who joins the Yankees from the University of Iowa. We’ll come back to him later in this post. Rosado, Hernandez, Becker, and Dunning are all returning to Tampa and Mahoney is moving up from the Rookie Gulf Coast League. Rosado has been credited with helped Luis Severino, Jordan Montgomery, Chance Adams, and several others take steps forward in their development in recent years. He’s an important behind-the-scenes member of the organization. Hernandez is the Yankees’ catching guru. He’s worked with everyone from Gary Sanchez to Luis Torrens. I reckon Donny Sands will be his project this year.
Low-A Charleston RiverDogs
Manager: Julio Mosquera
Pitching Coach: Gabe Luckert
Hitting Coach: Greg Colbrunn
Defensive Coaches: Travis Chapman and Francisco Leandro
Athletic Trainer: Michael Sole
Strength & Conditioning Coach: Danny Russo
Video Manager: Nick Horning
Mosquera is entering his 14th season in the organization and his second straight year at the helm of the RiverDogs. He played briefly in the big leagues with the Blue Jays and Brewers back in the day and has held a variety of roles with the Yankees, including catching coordinator (2006-14), Rookie Gulf Coast League manager (2015-16), and Short Season Staten Island manager (2017). Mosquera is from Panama and he’s been with the Yankees for a long time now, so, as you could imagine, he was thrilled when Mariano Rivera was unanimously voted into the Hall of Fame.
Feliz de nuestro Mariano orgulloso pic.twitter.com/zbN6r1pjpS
— Julio Mosquera (@juliomosq29) January 22, 2019
“I was very excited when I got the appointment that I was going back to Charleston. It’s a great place and a great baseball town,” said Mosquera in a statement. “The fans and the front office make that ballpark an exciting place to be. I think with the coaching staff that we have now and the environment we’re in, it’s not only going to be hard work but a whole lot of fun too, especially when you show up to the ballpark and you know that fanbase and all the entertainment going on at the stadium are going to be there to back you up.”
Colbrunn returns for a fourth stint as Charleston’s hitting coach. He served as the club’s hitting coach from 2007-09, 2011-12, and 2015-16. Around that he had stints as the RiverDogs’ manager (2010), the Red Sox’s hitting coach (2013-14), and the Yankees’ minor league roving hitting instructor (2017-18). Colbrunn lives in South Carolina and he stepped down from his role with Boston to be closer to his family after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage in 2014. A role with Charleston is a good fit for both him and the Yankees.
Luckert is a new addition to the staff. He spent the last two years as a pitching coach with one of the two Rookie Gulf Coast League teams. Leandro was Rookie Pulaski’s hitting coach last season. Now he’ll join Chapman, who is in his seventh year in the organization, as Charleston’s defensive coach tandem. Chapman spent last year in the same role with Triple-A Scranton. Moving him from Triple-A to Low-A and adding a second defensive suggests the Yankees want them working with specific prospects. Two defensive coaches is unusual.
Short Season Staten Island Yankees
Manager: David Adams
Pitching Coach: Travis Phelps
Hitting Coach: Ken Joyce
Defensive Coach: Tyson Blaser
Athletic Trainer: Jon Becker
Strength & Conditioning Coach: Daniel Smith
Video Manager: Paul Henshaw
Former Yankees prospect David Adams is moving up the minor league managerial ladder. He retired as a player a few years ago and this will be his third season back with the organization. Two years ago he served as a defensive coach in the Rookie Gulf Coast League and last year he managed one of the two GCL affiliates. Now Adams is moving up to Staten Island.
“I am truly honored and grateful for being chosen to manage the 2019 Staten Island Yankees alongside a knowledgeable and caring staff, both in the front office and on the field,” said Adams in a statement. “… Being in Staten Island presents us with the unique opportunity of impacting young players in our organization as well as newly drafted players in June, a duty we do not take lightly. Instilling our Yankee core values so close to Yankee Stadium, where many of these players hope to play one day, is a special privilege. My family and I are super excited for the challenge and cannot wait for June to roll around.”
Adams, 31, was the Yankees’ third round pick in 2008 and he developed into a solid prospect. His only stint in the big leagues came with the Yankees in 2013. He suited up in 43 games (!) somehow. Can’t say I remember it being that many. Anyway, Phelps, Joyce, Blaser, Becker, and Smith are all returning to Staten Island. This will be year four for Phelps with the club, year three for Becker and Smith, and year two for Joyce and Blaser.
Rookie Pulaski Yankees
Manager: Luis Dorante
Pitching Coach: Gerardo Casadiego
Hitting Coach: Scot Seabol
Defensive Coach: Teuris Olivares
Athletic Trainer: Manny Ozoa
Strength & Conditioning Coach: Larry Adegoke
Video Manager: TBD
Dorante is on the move again. This will be his eighth season in the organization and in the previous seven he served as Double-A Trenton’s pitching coach (2012-13), Low-A Charleston’s manager (2014-16), Rookie Pulaski’s manager (2017), and Double-A Trenton’s bullpen coach (2018). This will be Casadiego’s third straight season as Pulaski’s pitching coach. He spent the three previous years coaching in the Dominican Summer League. Olivares is back for his second season with Pulaski and ninth season in the organization. He’s mostly coached in the DSL.
This will be Seabol’s third year coaching in the system and second as Pulaski’s hitting coach. He held the same role with Low-A Charleston last year. There is where the annual “Seabol played one game with the 2001 Yankees and became the lowest drafted player to reach the big leagues in MLB history” reminder goes. Seabol was picked in the 88th round (1,718th overall) in 1996. Travis Phelps, Staten Island’s pitching coach, made his MLB debut with the (Devil) Rays eleven days after Seabol. Phelps was drafted three picks after Seabol and is currently the lowest drafted big leaguer in history.
Rookie Gulf Coast League Yankees East & West
Coaching staffs unknown. I can’t remember the last time the Yankees announced their GCL coaches. These are usually reported rather than announced by the team. We’ll see if they leak out at some point in the coming weeks. If they do, I’ll update the post.
As mentioned last week, the Yankees hired Dillon Lawson away from the Astros to be their new minor league hitting coordinator. He has extensive college coaching experience in addition to two one-year stints (2016, 2018) with Houston. One of Lawson’s colleagues with the Astros called him the “hitting coach of the future” for the way he uses analytics to develop training methods.
The Yankees also hired pitching coach Desi Druschel away from the University of Iowa along with Migliaccio. Hawkeyes head coach Rick Heller spilled the beans on Twitter last week. Druschel (and presumably Migliaccio since they were on the same staff) is another analytics guy. In fact, not too long ago R.J. Anderson wrote about Druschel and Lawson embracing analytics at the college level to drive their programs to success. Pretty cool stuff.
Migliaccio will be High-A Tampa’s hitting coach. Druschel is not listed as an affiliate pitching coach, which means one of two things. Either he’ll coach in the Rookie Gulf Coast League or the Yankees hired him as a pitching coordinator type. The pitching version of Lawson, basically. I’d bet on that over Druschel being a GCL coach. Anyway, here are some other quick coaching and front office notes I don’t know where else to put:
- So long, Eric Duncan. He left the Yankees to join Gary Denbo and the Marlins as their minor league hitting instructor, reports Jordan McPherson. Duncan was a hitting coach in the farm system the last few years. He flamed out as the Yankees’ first round pick in 2003.
- Prior to hiring Brodie Van Wagenen, the Mets asked the Yankees’ permission to interview vice president of baseball operations Tim Naehring for their GM job, according to Andy Martino. Naehring politely declined the interview. He’s happy as Brian Cashman’s right-hand man.
- The Yankees hired analyst Chris Pang away from the Mets, reports Martino. Pang was one of three (3) full-time analysts the Mets employed under former GM Sandy Alderson. A few weeks ago Marc Carig and Eno Sarris (subs. req’d) reported the Yankees have approximately 20 analysts, the most in baseball.
Update: Druschel’s title is Manager of Pitch Development, he told Dargan Southard. It is a newly created position and Drushel told Southard the Yankees weren’t going to hire anyone else for the role. They wanted to bring him into the organization and this is how they did it.