Rays make flurry of coaching changes for '22

November 18th, 2021

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays promoted from within to beef up their coaching staff, announcing four additions to their Major League staff on Thursday.

Tampa Bay replaced first-base coach Ozzie Timmons, who took a job as Milwaukee’s co-head hitting coach, by promoting Chris Prieto. The 49-year-old Prieto spent the last two seasons as the Rays’ Minor League outfield/baserunning coordinator. He will continue to provide baserunning and outfield instruction with Tampa Bay while taking Timmons’ place as the first-base coach.

Additionally, the Rays added three assistant coaches to their big league coaching staff:

• Assistant hitting coach Dan DeMent, who was the Rays’ Minor League hitting coordinator the past two years after 11 seasons as a Minor League hitting coach

• Assistant hitting coach Brady North, the hitting coach for High-A Bowling Green last season and a coach for the Rookie-level GCL Rays in 2019

• Assistant pitching and rehab coach Rick Knapp, who spent the previous four years as the pitching coach for Triple-A Durham

Those four will join Kevin Cash, the two-time American League Manager of the Year; bench coach Matt Quatraro, who could be a candidate for the remaining managerial openings in the Majors; hitting coach Chad Mottola; pitching coach Kyle Snyder; third-base coach Rodney Linares; bullpen coach Stan Boroski; Major League field coordinator Paul Hoover; and process and analytics coach Jonathan Erlichman.

Prieto (pronounced “pre-EH-toe”) will be the eighth first-base coach in Rays history. Before joining Tampa Bay, he spent seven seasons in the Mariners organization, including six on Seattle’s big league coaching staff as a quality assurance coach (2014-16), special projects coach (‘17), first-base coach (’18) and third-base coach (’19). Prieto played 13 professional seasons, including two games in the Majors for the Angels in 2005, before beginning his coaching career with the Padres organization in 2011.

DeMent, 43, is entering his 14th season in the Rays organization. His coaching career began with Rookie-level Princeton in 2009, then he climbed the organizational ladder by spending two seasons each with Hudson Valley, Bowling Green, Montgomery and Durham before taking on the club’s hitting coordinator role. The former infielder had an eight-year playing career in the Rays' and Nationals' systems.

At 30 years old, North will be the youngest member of the coaching staff. The former Bowling Green hitting coach, who drew rave reviews from prospects for his work there, played collegiately for the 2014 NAIA national championship-winning Cumberland University team while graduating with a master’s degree in sport and exercise science. He was the hitting coach for two seasons at Tampa’s Gaither High School and served as the director of hitting and mental performance at Top Level Athletes in Orlando, Fla. DeMent and North will work with Mottola, who had previously been assisted by Timmons.

Knapp, 59, has earned credit from the big league staff the last few years for preparing the Rays’ Triple-A staff for the Majors. Prior to spending four years with Durham, he was the Tigers’ pitching coach (2008-11), a pitching coordinator for the Royals (2012) and Dodgers (2013-16) and MLB’s international pitching coordinator (2017). Knapp’s coaching career began with the Rangers in 1988, after he pitched for five seasons in Texas’ organization.

The Rays made three changes to their Major League medical and training staffs, with further additions/changes to the support staff expected to be finalized at a later date:

• Mark Vinson transitioned from first assistant athletic trainer to medical coordinator, special projects.

• Mike Sandoval was promoted from assistant athletic trainer to first assistant athletic trainer.

• Aaron Scott was promoted from Minor League medical coordinator to assistant athletic trainer. The 42-year-old is entering his sixth season in the Rays organization, having spent the previous four as the Minor League medical coordinator after one season as Class A Advanced Charlotte’s athletic trainer.