Five new managers in Cards' Minors system

Memphis native Ben Johnson to helm Triple-A squad

January 18th, 2019

ST. LOUIS -- Five Cardinals affiliates will be led by new managers in 2019, including Triple-A Memphis, which formally announced Ben Johnson as its newest manager on Friday.
Johnson, a Memphis native and former Cardinals Minor League outfielder, joins the Redbirds after a year as a coach with the Rays' Triple-A team in Durham, N.C. He replaces Stubby Clapp, who was promoted to manager Mike Shildt's staff after leading Memphis to consecutive Pacific Coast League titles.
Johnson is the only new Minor League manager to come from outside the organization. The other four changes were the results of promotions, as Joe Kruzel (Double-A Springfield), Erick Almonte (Class A Peoria), Jose Leon (Class A Short-Season State College) and Joshua Lopez (Gulf Coast League) drew new assignments.
Returning to their previous managerial posts will be Dan Bilardello (Class A Advanced Palm Beach), Roberto Espinoza (Rookie-level Johnson City), Fray Peniche (Dominican Summer League, blue team) and John Matos (Dominican Summer League, red team).
Additionally, the Cardinals announced Tony Cruz's return to the organization. He has been hired as a Minor League catching instructor following a playing career that included parts of seven seasons in the Majors. Though Cruz last appeared for the Reds, he played 259 of his 272 career games as 's backup in St. Louis.
Two other former Cardinals Minor Leaguers -- Chris Swauger and Johnny Rodriguez -- earned promotions, as well. Swauger moves into the role of assistant field coordinator under field coordinator Mark DeJohn. Rodriguez takes over as a Minor League infield instructor within the player development system.
As previously announced, Jose Oquendo's new role will be as a Minor League roving instructor. He'll be based out of Jupiter, Fla., after requesting the change in assignment.
All nine of the Cardinals' affiliates have retained their pitching coaches from last season. Seven of these clubs will feature a new hitting coach.