CHICAGO -- The 2018 Class A Advanced Winston-Salem roster featured a who's who of top White Sox prospects throughout the course of the season, including right-hander Dylan Cease, outfielder/designated hitter Micker Adolfo, outfielder Blake Rutherford, infielder Nick Madrigal and right-hander Jimmy Lambert to name a few.
With these players moving up through the system toward the Majors following a year of strong development, it made sense to move up Dash manager Omar Vizquel to Double-A Birmingham along with this talented core. Vizquel's change in locale, joined by 2018 Winston-Salem hitting coach Charles Poe, was part of Tuesday's announcement of the '19 player development staff under Chris Getz, who is in his third year as the organization's director.
"He created a great culture at Winston-Salem, those guys responded, and we expect something similar to happen in Birmingham at a higher level," Getz said of Vizquel's move to the Barons during a Wednesday conference call. "We felt that those priority players developed well. They took a lot of steps forward.
"I've been around Omar enough, prior to even hiring him; he has such a passion for the game, but he also has a passion for instruction. He's a great communicator. When he walks in the room, he's going to command the room just based on his history. But he's such a genuine person; therefore, he can build relationships very quickly and get buy-in very quickly. It kind of showed last year in the progress that was made with a lot of those players."
Vizquel, 51, managed Winston-Salem to the postseason last year with an 84-54 overall record. Justin Jirschele, the 28-year-old who led Class A Kannapolis to a 74-63 mark and the South Atlantic League playoffs in 2018, moves to Winston-Salem this season in place of Vizquel. Jirschele played for the Dash during parts of the '14 and '15 seasons.
"Numerous players have come up to myself and our staff making it clear they love being around Jirsch because of his communication skills, the humbleness he has," Getz said. "He just relates so well to those guys."
Mark Grudzielanek returns as manager for Triple-A Charlotte, Ryan Newman takes over at Kannapolis and Tim Esmay returns at Advanced Rookie Great Falls. Ever Magallanes will serve as the Arizona Rookie League White Sox manager after overseeing the club's Dominican Academy in 2017-18.
Former Major Leaguers Frank Menechino (hitting coach at Charlotte) and Wes Helms (coach at Birmingham) enter their first season in the White Sox system. Menechino served as the hitting coach for the Marlins from 2014-18 following a seven-year Major League career. He was selected by the White Sox in the 1993 Draft and played from '93-97 in their Minor League system. Helms served as the bench coach for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs in the Philadelphia organization last season. He spent 13 years in the Majors.
Other returning coordinators include Doug Sisson (field), Mike Gellinger (hitting), John Orton (catching) and Aaron Rowand (outfield/baserunning). Rowand played center field for the 2005 World Series champion White Sox, while Gellinger worked with hitting coach Greg Walker as part of that same championship team among their career accomplishments.
Pitching coaches for the 2018 season include returning staffers Steve McCatty (Charlotte), Richard Dotson (Birmingham), Matt Zaleski (Winston-Salem), Jose Bautista (Kannapolis), John Ely (Great Falls) and Felipe Lira (AZL). Everett Teaford and J.R. Perdew will serve as assistant pitching coordinators, while Kirk Champion returns as director of Minor League pitching instruction. Champion begins his 31st season in the White Sox organization.
Matt Lisle represents another new addition to the staff as hitting analytics instructor. The White Sox also have four assistants in player development in Rafael Santana, Tommy Thompson, Rod Larson and Graham Harboe.