In the course of your day-to-day life, or even day-to-day as a person who follows the Orioles very closely, you probably don't spend a whole lot of time thinking about who is the hitting coach for the Bowie Baysox or the pitching coach for the Delmarva Shorebirds. Yet every coach in the organization plays at least a small part in developing potential future Orioles, or, in the case of the Triple-A Norfolk staff, in keeping players ready to contribute to the major league team at a moment's notice.
The Orioles announced their 2015 minor league coaches and field staff on Tuesday afternoon. These hires have probably been settled for months and it's just the kind of thing you announce two days before pitchers and catchers report to spring training. Here they are:
|Team||Level||Manager||Pitching Coach||Hitting Coach|
|Norfolk Tides||Triple-A||Ron Johnson||Mike Griffin||Sean Berry|
|Bowie Baysox||Double-A||Gary Kendall||Alan Mills||Keith Bodie|
|Frederick Keys||High-A||Orlando Gomez||Kennie Steenstra||Paco Figueroa|
|Delmarva Shorebirds||Low-A||Ryan Minor||Blaine Beatty||Howie Clark|
|Aberdeen Ironbirds||Short-A||Luis Pujols||Justin Lord||(not listed)|
|Gulf Coast Orioles||GCL||Matt Merullo||Wilson Alvarez||Milt May|
|Dominican Orioles (1)||DSL||Elvis Morel||Robert Perez||Benny Adames|
|Dominican Orioles (2)||DSL||Nelson Norman||Dionis Pascual||(see above)|
Many of them have been with the organization for years, though some bounce from role to role depending on the year. This season's Aberdeen manager, Pujols, managed Frederick in 2014 and Delmarva in 2013. Mills, a former Oriole, moves from Delmarva to Bowie. Other former Orioles on the staff include Minor and Clark. It's the eighth year as a coach or manager in the organization for Minor. Clark is debuting with the organization as a coach.
What do you think there is about Howie Clark that made someone say, "Yes, we need him to instruct our 19- and 20-year-old hitters"? Actually, there might not even be that many super young players there this year. The O's not picking until the third round of the draft in 2014 cut down their chances to add players, and most of the picks they did draft were either pitchers or college hitters.
Norfolk manager Johnson is back in that role for the fourth straight year. His name is mentioned from time to time by Buck Showalter as an important piece of the puzzle. Johnson knows is his team is really just a taxi squad for the big league team and he manages accordingly, so when the O's are able to call up a fresh reliever when they need one, it's because Johnson made sure the right guy was fresh.
Bowie manager Kendall has been a manager in the organization for 12 seasons and is in his fifth straight year at the helm of the Baysox.
There's also minor league player development staff who aren't affiliated with any particular team. The pitching guru Rick Peterson is still with the organization, although we hear a lot less from him and about him lately. Former Orioles like Jeff Manto, Scott McGregor, and Mike Bordick all have roles in line with what they did as big leaguers.
We won't be thinking much about most or any of them as the season rolls along, but they'll all be toiling away quietly, trying to get the Orioles minor leaguers to be the best players that they can be.