There might be a new general manager in Baltimore, but his first year hiring for minor league coaches and player development announced on Friday has a lot of familiar faces carrying over from the Dan Duquette days and even farther back than that.
Watching the 2018 Orioles, it was not very hard to adopt an attitude of, “Fire everyone!” Whether specific people were part of the problem or not, it seemed clear that not many were part of the solution. That does not seem to have been the attitude adopted by Mike Elias as he assembled the staffs of his minor league affiliates.
For instance, Gary Kendall will be new on the job as manager at Triple-A Norfolk, but he’s been the manager of Double-A Bowie for eight seasons before this. Replacing Kendall at Bowie is Buck Britton, brother of Zack (formerly Zach), who’s new in that role after managing Single-A Delmarva last season.
It’s a similar story among the player development people named by the organization today. The Director of Minor League Operations sounds like a person who should have been fired automatically by a new GM after what was happening under Dan Duquette. Instead, Kent Qualls will be back for his seventh season in that role. The minor league hitting coordinator, infield coordinator, and catching coordinator are all back for more.
There are a few people new to the organization here and there. New minor league pitching coordinator Chris Holt has followed Elias over from the Astros. A number of college coaches were picked up for pro jobs, with Delmarva’s new hitting coach and Aberdeen’s new hitting coach among those joining from junior college coaching jobs.
It’ll be interesting to see in a year’s time how many of these people the new administration wants to keep around. Elias being hired late and not having a full offseason to assemble his staff may have made the team more likely to just keep a lot of the same people around.
On the other hand, maybe more of the minor league coaches than we realized are open to their players receiving analytics-based instruction and the last regime was unwilling to or incapable of providing that information to the coaches. If a lot of these guys are still named on the coaching staffs in a year, we’ll know that it may have been something more like that.
The coaches for the domestic affiliates:
- Manager: Gary Kendall (new in role)
- Pitching Coach: Mike Griffin
- Hitting Coach: Butch Davis
- Field Coach: Ramon Sambo (new in role)
- Manager: Buck Britton (new in role)
- Pitching Coach: Kennie Steenstra
- Hitting Coach: Keith Bodie
- Development Coach: Josh Conway (new to organization)
- Manager: Ryan Minor
- Pitching Coach: Justin Lord (new in role)
- Hitting Coach: Bobby Rose (new in role)
- Development Coach: Adam Bleday (new to organization)
Bleday stands out in the press release because he was only drafted in 2017 by the Astros and has already transitioned into coaching after pitching across four levels in two seasons. Elias must have been impressed with what the 27th round pick could offer to other players.
- Manager: Kyle Moore (new in role)
- Pitching Coach: Justin Ramsey (new to organization)
- Hitting Coach: Matt Trate (new to organization)
- Development Coach: Pat Leyland (new in role)
- Manager: Kevin Bradshaw
- Pitching Coach: Robbie Aviles (new to organization)
- Hitting Coach: Tom Eller (new to organization)
- Development Coach: Jack Graham (new in role)
There are also full staffs named for the rookie-level Gulf Coast League Orioles, as well as the Dominican Summer League Orioles affiliate, where there are five field/development coaches instead of just the one at every other level.
Looking at it all laid out above, it seems noteworthy that the bulk of the new to organization coaches are at the lower levels. Elias and his people seem to have bumped up the guys who they believe were doing a good job farther down the minors and looked to the college coaching ranks to plug those holes. We’ll see how it works out. For now, these guys will be working mostly with Duquette-drafted and Duquette-acquired minor leaguers.
Remaining listed as special assignment instructors are former Orioles B.J. Surhoff and Mike Bordick, as well as recent-vintage Ubaldo Jimenez whisperer Ramon Martinez, brother of Pedro.