HOUSTON, TX - The Houston Astros announced today the minor league coordinators, medical staff and field staffs for the 2015 season. The Astros coordinators will be Paul Runge (field coordinator), Dyar Miller (pitching coordinator), Jeff Albert (hitting coordinator), Ralph Dickenson (roving hitting instructor), Doug White (roving pitching instructor), Adam Everett (infield instructor) and Mark Bailey (catching instructor). Morgan Ensberg will serve as a minor league special assignment coach while Gary Ruby will be a pitching advisor. Brendan Verner (strength and conditioning coordinator), Jamey Snodgrass (medical coordinator), Daniel Roberts (rehab coordinator), Mike Burns (rehab coach) and Mike Freer (athletic training advisor) comprise the club's minor league medical staff.
The 2015 managerial corps is made up of Tony DeFrancesco (Triple A Fresno), Rodney Linares (Double A Corpus Christi), Omar Lopez (Class A Advanced Lancaster), Josh Bonifay (Class A Quad Cities), Ed Romero (Class A Short-Season Tri-City), Marty Malloy (Rookie Level Gulf Coast League), Johan Maya (Rookie Level Dominican Summer League) and Charlie Romero (Rookie Level Dominican Summer League). Rookie Level Greeneville's manager is to be announced.
The Astros are returning 61 coaches, coordinators and medical staffers from the 2014 season.
COORDINATORS AND MEDICAL STAFF
Paul Runge returns for his fifth consecutive season as the Astros minor league field coordinator. Prior to joining Houston's organization in 2011, Runge compiled 14 years of minor league managerial experience, all coming in Atlanta's system, which included two Appalachian League Championships while managing Rookie Level Danville (2006, 2009). Runge enjoyed an eight-year Major League playing career with Atlanta from 1981-88.
Dyar Miller returns to the Astros for his third season as pitching coordinator, and his 31st season working in player development. Miller joined the organization in 2013 following a five-year stint with the Cardinals, which included a year as the bullpen coach for the Major League club (2012) and four seasons as the organization's minor league pitching coordinator (2008-11). Miller's pitching career lasted 17 seasons (1968-84), which included nine Major League seasons with four different MLB clubs (Baltimore, California, Toronto, New York Mets). In his seven seasons in the Majors, he produced a career 23-17 record with 22 saves and a 3.23 ERA in 251 games as a reliever.
Jeff Albert enters his second season as hitting coordinator after joining the Astros in 2013 as the club's roving hitting instructor. Albert began his coaching career with the Cardinals organization in 2008 as the hitting coach at Class A Short Season Batavia before moving up to Class A Advanced Palm Beach, where he served as hitting coach from 2009-12. A graduate of Butler University, Albert played professionally in the independent leagues and also received his Master's degree in Exercise Science at Louisiana Tech University. He is also a certified strength and conditioning specialist from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA).
After spending the 2014 season as the Astros Major League assistant hitting coach, Ralph Dickenson returns to the organization as roving hitting instructor in 2015. Dickenson joined the Astros in 2013 as the club's minor league hitting coordinator following three seasons as a hitting coach in the Blue Jays system at the Double A and Class A levels from 2010-12. He has been an instructor at the professional or collegiate level for 37 seasons, serving as a manager, hitting instructor, field coordinator and hitting coach during his career. Selected by Minnesota in the supplemental first round of the 1969 draft out of Arizona State University, Dickenson spent six years in the minors as a two-way player, appearing in 368 games in the outfield and 134 on the mound.
The 2015 season will be Doug White's second as roving pitching instructor, and his third overall with the Astros after joining the club in 2013 as pitching coach for the New York-Penn League Champion Tri-City ValleyCats. Before joining the Astros, White spent five seasons as a pitching coach in the Cardinals minor league system at the Class A Short Season (2008) and Rookie (2009-12) levels.
Former Astros shortstop Adam Everett returns to his role as infield instructor for the third straight season. Last season, Everett was added to the Major League coaching staff on Sept. 1 where he served as interim bench coach for Astros interim manager Tom Lawless. In his current role, Everett works with both the Major League team and minor league players, focusing on the development of infielders. Known for being one of the greatest defensive shortstops in MLB history, Everett played 11 seasons in the Major Leagues (2001-11), including seven with the Astros (2001-07). Prior to starting his coaching career with Houston in 2013, Everett spent 2012 as a special assistant to the baseball operations department with the Cleveland Indians.
Former Astros catcher and Major League bullpen coach Mark Bailey enters his 17th year as a coach or instructor in the Astros organization, and his first as a roving catching instructor. Bailey has spent the last two seasons as a developmental specialist with a focus on catching for Double A Corpus Christi. A mainstay in the Astros organization since beginning his coaching career as a hitting coach with Class A Advanced Kissimmee in 1998, Bailey has spent a total of seven seasons as a hitting coach in Houston's system, and from 2002-09 spent eight seasons as the Astros Major League bullpen coach. A catcher during his playing days, Bailey played in parts of seven seasons with Houston (1984-88) and San Francisco (1990, 1992).
Morgan Ensberg returns to the Astros for his third season and his second as a minor league special assignment coach. In his current role, Ensberg travels throughout the Astros system to instruct infielders and work with the club's minor league players. In 2013, Ensberg joined the professional coaching ranks as an infield coach with Class A Advanced Lancaster. The former third baseman played eight seasons in the Major Leagues with the Astros (2000, 2002-07), Padres (2007) and Yankees (2008). After his playing career, he served as a coach for the University of Southern California and the University of California, San Diego. He also spent time as a college baseball analyst for ESPN and as a co-host for SiriusXM's MLB Roundtrip radio show.
Gary Ruby will have a new role in 2015 as pitching advisor in what will be his ninth year with the club. Ruby spent parts of the last three seasons as pitching coach at Double A Corpus Christi, and in 2013 was named the Texas League Coach of the Year. Ruby joined the coaching ranks in 1987 with the Indians organization, and has also worked in the Pittsburgh (2001-06) and Philadelphia (1998-2001) minor league systems.
Brendan Verner returns for his third season as strength and conditioning coordinator after joining the organization in 2013. Prior to joining the Astros, Verner served as San Diego's assistant strength and conditioning coordinator at the minor league level from 2011-12. Verner spent two seasons as Cleveland's assistant strength and conditioning coach at the Major League level from 2007-08, and also spent four years working as a strength and conditioning coach in both the Cleveland and Pittsburgh minor league systems. Verner graduated from Cleveland State University with a Master of Arts in Exercise Science, and is a certified strength and conditioning specialist, a registered strength and conditioning coach and a member of the National Strength and Conditioning Association.
Jamey Snodgrass begins his 17th season in the Houston Astros organization and his fifth as the club's medical coordinator. Prior to his current post, he served as the athletic trainer for Double A Corpus Christi (2005-10), Double A Round Rock (2003-04), Class A Michigan (2001-02) and Class A Auburn (1999-2000). During his 12 seasons as a trainer, Snodgrass received Trainer of the Year awards in both the Texas League (2005) and Midwest League (2001-02). In his current role, he also works with the Major League players in Spring Training and in September.
Daniel Roberts returns to his role as the organization's rehab coordinator for the fifth consecutive season. Roberts is based out of the Astros Spring Training complex in Kissimmee, FL, where he assists injured and recovering Major and minor league players with the medical rehabilitation process. Prior to joining the Astros in 2011, Roberts served as an assistant athletic trainer at Charleston Southern University.
Former Astros reliever Mike Burns returns to the organization for his second season as the club's rehab coach. Burns was a member of the 2005 National League Champion Astros club, and made 60 total Major League appearances across three seasons with Houston (2005), Cincinnati (2006), Boston (2006) and Milwaukee (2009). The right-hander was drafted by the Astros in the 30th round of the 2000 MLB draft and spent the first five seasons of his career in Houston's minor league system.
Longtime Astros trainer Mike Freer is entering his 26th season in the Astros organization and will have a new role for the 2015 season as athletic training advisor. After spending the last 18 seasons as the Astros trainer at the Triple A level, Freer will be based out of the Astros complex in Kissimmee, FL, and will spend time roving throughout the Astros minor league system. Freer joined the organization in 1990, and was named the Minor League Athletic Trainer of the Year by the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society in 2003.
TRIPLE A FRESNO GRIZZLIES
Tony DeFrancesco returns for his fifth season as Houston's manager at the Triple A level, his 21st season as a minor league manager and his 31st as a player, coach or manager in professional baseball. Under DeFrancesco's leadership, which began in 2011, the Astros Triple A clubs have gone 263-244 (.519) while posting a winning record in each of the last three seasons. In 2013, DeFrancesco led Triple A Oklahoma City to the club's first division title since 2010 with 82 wins, which paced the Pacific Coast League and marked the second-most in RedHawks history for a single season. While DeFrancesco has been the Astros Triple A manager since 2011, he was named interim manager of the Astros Major League club for Houston's final 41 games of the 2012 season. Prior to joining the Astros, DeFrancesco spent seven seasons as manager at Triple A Sacramento in Oakland's organization, where he guided the River Cats to six first-place finishes and three PCL Championship titles.
Arthur "Ace" Adams joins the Astros for his first season as the Grizzlies pitching coach after spending the last seven seasons as a pitching coach in the Cardinals minor league system (2008-14). Leon Roberts returns for his fourth season as hitting coach for the Astros Triple A club. Jeff Murphy returns for his second season as a developmental specialist with a focus on catching at the Astros Triple A affiliate. Bryan Baca enters his first season as athletic trainer for the Astros Triple A club and his ninth year overall with the organization. Trey Wiedman will serve as Fresno's strength and conditioning coach for the first season in what will be his fourth year with the Astros.
DOUBLE A CORPUS CHRISTI HOOKS
Entering his ninth consecutive season as a manager in the Astros organization, Rodney Linares heads to Corpus Christi for his first season as the Hooks manager. Linares spent the last three seasons as manager at Class A Advanced Lancaster, where he led the club to two California League Championship titles (2012, 2014) while winning the California League Manager of the Year Award in 2013. The JetHawks posted a winning record in each of their three seasons under Linares, combining for a 234-186 (.557) record. Now in his 17th season with the Astros organization, Linares joined the coaching ranks in 1999 with Houston following a two-year playing career in the Astros (1998) and Tigers (1997) minor league systems.
Doug Brocail begins his first season as the full-time pitching coach at Double A Corpus Christi after spending much of 2014 serving the position in an interim role. The veteran of 16 Major League seasons was named Special Assistant to the GM and Senior Pitching Advisor prior to the 2014 season, following a stint as the Astros Major League pitching coach from 2011-13. Dan Radison returns to the Astros for his first season as hitting coach at Corpus Christi and his third in the organization. Radison served as a special assistant in player development in 2014, and was the Astros assistant hitting coach on the Major League staff in 2013. Tom Lawless enters his seventh consecutive season with the Astros and his first as the Hooks developmental specialist with a focus on infielders. Last season, Lawless served a multitude of roles throughout the organization, including interim manager of the Major League club, interim manager of the Triple A RedHawks, and roving infield instructor. Grant Hufford will be with the Astros for his eighth season, and his first as Corpus Christi's athletic trainer. Mark Spadavecchia returns to the Astros for his third season, and his first as the Hooks strength and conditioning coach.
CLASS A ADVANCED LANCASTER JETHAWKS
Omar Lopez joins the JetHawks for his first season as manager and his 17th overall with the Astros organization. Lopez has spent the last two seasons as manager of the Class A Quad Cities River Bandits, and in 2013 led the club to the Midwest League Championship title after an 81-57 finish in the regular season. Lopez has served as a manager in the Astros system for Rookie Level Greeneville (2011-12), the Gulf Coast League Astros (2009-10) and the Venezuelan Summer League Astros (2008). He has been with the Astros organization since 1999 and in 2010 earned the Astros Player Development Man of the Year Award.
Joining Lopez on the coaching staff will be Don Alexander (pitching coach) and Darryl Robinson (hitting coach), who return in the same roles they held last season. Alexander has been a pitching coach in the Astros system since 2005, has spent a total of 17 years in Houston's organization and has been Lancaster's pitching for the last three seasons. Robinson has been the JetHawks hitting coach since 2009, and in 2013 was named the California League Coach of the Year after his JetHawks led the minors in runs (976), walks (669), on-base percentage (.384) and OPS (.853). Ramon Vazquez returns to the JetHawks for his second season as a developmental specialist with a focus on infielders. Vazquez was the hitting coach for the Gulf Coast League Astros in 2014 following a 16-year playing career, which included nine seasons in the Major Leagues. Michael Rendon begins his first season as the JetHawks trainer and his fifth with the Astros. Taylor Rhoades returns to the Astros organization for his second season, and his first as Lancaster's strength and conditioning coach.
CLASS A QUAD CITIES RIVER BANDITS
Josh Bonifay begins his first season as manager at Quad Cities after spending the last two years as manager at Rookie Level Greeneville. Bonifay, who joined the Astros in 2011 as Greeneville's hitting coach, was named the Appalachian League Manager of the Year in 2013 after leading the club to a 38-30 record (second-best record in franchise history) and a berth in the Appalachian League Championship Series. An eight-year minor league veteran, Bonifay began his coaching career as a player/coach in the Pirates organization (2007-09) before joining the Astros. In 2012, he was named to the South Atlantic League Postseason All-Star Team as a coach.
Dave Borkowski (pitching coach) and Joel Chimelis (hitting coach) return to the River Bandits in their same roles. Borkowski, a former Astros pitcher, will be Houston's Class A pitching coaching for the fifth consecutive season, while Chimelis will be returning for his 10th season (2006-14) in the Astros system and his third as Quad Cities hitting coach. Tim Garland joins the River Bandits as their developmental specialist (outfield/baserunning) following a two-year stint as Corpus Christi's hitting coach. Corey O'Brien will be the River Bandits athletic trainer in 2015 in what will be his fourth season with the Astros. Dwayne Peterson will be the River Bandits strength and conditioning coach in what will be his second season with the Astros.
CLASS A SHORT SEASON TRI-CITY VALLEYCATS
Former Major Leaguer Ed Romero returns for his third season as manager of Tri-City after leading the club to the New York-Penn League Championship Series in 2014 and a NYPL Championship title in 2013. The 2015 season will be his 23rd year as a professional manager or coach. He is six years removed from the Astros Major League staff, having served as the club's bench coach in 2009 and the third base coach in 2008. He has managed a total of 13 seasons in the minor leagues between the Houston, Milwaukee and San Diego organizations.
Romero's staff will consist of Chris Holt (pitching coach), Russ Steinhorn (hitting coach), John Gregorich (athletic trainer) and James McNichol (strength). Holt returns to the ValleyCats for his second season, while Steinhorn will be the club's hitting coach for the third consecutive season. Gregorich enters his first season with the ValleyCats and his second overall with the Astros. McNichol returns to the Astros for his third season, and his first as Tri-City's strength and conditioning coach.
ROOKIE LEVEL GREENEVILLE ASTROS
Greeneville's manager is TBA, but the coaching staff will consist of Josh Miller (pitching coach) and Cesar Cedeno (hitting coach). Miller, a former Astros minor league pitcher, will be Greeneville's pitching coach for the third straight season after spending two years as a professional scout for the Astros (2011-12). Cedeno returns to Greeneville for his fourth consecutive season. The four-time All-Star played 12 seasons (1970-81) with the Astros and collected five Gold Gloves as an outfielder. Following his playing career, Cedeno served as a coach or instructor for the organization for 10 seasons (1990-94, 1997-2001).
ROOKIE LEVEL GULF COAST LEAGUE ASTROS
Marty Malloy returns to the GCL Astros for his third season overall and his second as manager. Malloy played 12 seasons (1992-2003) of minor league baseball and appeared in 35 career Major League games while playing for Atlanta (1998) and Florida (2002).
Hector Mercado (pitching coach), Gary Ruby (pitching advisor), Vinny Lopez (hitting coach) and Wladimir Sutil (coach) will be joined by Julio Diaz (strength coach). Mercado has been coaching in the Astros system for five seasons, which has included four seasons in the GCL (2010-11, 2013-14) and one year at Greeneville (2012). Ruby, the 2013 Texas League Coach of the Year, has been with the Astros for the last eight seasons, including the last three as pitching coach for Double A Corpus Christi. Lopez returns to the Astros for his second season as hitting coach with the GCL Astros. Sutil, who played in the Astros minor league system from 2004-11, enters his second season as a coach and his first with the GCL Astros. Last season Sutil was a coach with Greeneville. Diaz returns to the GCL Astros for his second season and his third overall with the organization.
ROOKIE LEVEL DOMINICAN SUMMER LEAGUE ASTROS
The two Astros Dominican Summer League teams will be managed by Johan Maya and Charlie Romero. Maya is entering his third season as a DSL Astros manager after serving two seasons as the infield instructor for the Astros Dominican operations. Romero, who has managed over 1,000 games in the DSL, is beginning his second season as a manager for the DSL Astros. Rick Aponte returns to the DSL Astros for his third season, and his first as a developmental specialist and pitching coordinator. Aponte has worked 38 seasons in the Astros minor league system, which included a 14-year run (1993-2006) in the Dominican. Former Astros minor league pitcher Erick Abreu returns for his second season as a pitching coach in the DSL. Luis Mateo returns for his seventh season as hitting coach, while Sixto Ortega will also serve as a hitting coach. The specialist positions will be filled by Melvi Ortega (outfield) and Carlos Lugo (catching). Ambiorix Reyes and Christian Bermudez will serve as athletic trainers, while Miguel Angel Cabrera and Geremias Guzman (11th season) will be the strength and conditioning coaches.