Rays name Minor League coaching staffs for 2020
Announce promotions and new hires within baseball operations
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.—The Tampa Bay Rays have named the minor league on-field coaching and medical staffs for the 2020 season. Below are the organizational changes and new hires for minor league coordinator roles:
• Field coordinator Alejandro Freire, spent last season as a coach of Short-A Hudson Valley;
• Hitting coordinator Dan Dement, spent last season as a coach of Triple-A Durham;
• Infield coordinator Ivan Ochoa, spent last season as a coach of Class-A Charlotte;
• Pitching coordinator Rolando Garza, hitting coordinator Greg Brown and outfield/baserunning coordinator Chris Prieto; new hires for minor league coordinator roles
Below are the organizational changes for minor league managerial roles:
• Class-A Bowling Green Manager Blake Butera, spent last season managing Short-A Hudson Valley;
• Short-A Hudson Valley Manager Rafael Valenzuela, spent last season managing the Rookie-level GCL Rays;
• Rookie-level Princeton Manager Sean Smedley, spent last season as a coach of Short-A Hudson Valley;
• Rookie-level GCL Rays Manager Reinaldo Ruiz, spent last season managing Class-A Bowling Green
Below are the new hires to the minor league on-field coaching and medical staffs:
• Hitting coach Kyle Wilson (Triple-A Durham), spent last season as a coach of Double-A Arkansas (Seattle Mariners);
• Coach Frank Jagoda (Rookie-level Princeton), spent last season as a coach of Class-A Fort Myers (Minnesota Twins);
• Hitting coach Frank Maldonado (Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Rays), spent last season as the head baseball coach at Greensboro College in North Carolina;
• Rehab athletic trainer Halee Williams (Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Rays), spent last season working part-time in the Oakland Athletics organization
• Athletic trainer Oscar Orengo (Dominican Summer League Rays), spent last season with the DSL Padres and won the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society DSL Athletic Trainer of the Year award
Below are the organizational changes to the minor league coaching and medical staffs for the 2020 season:
Name -- Position -- 2020 Club -- 2019 Club
Brian Reith -- Pitching coach -- Montgomery (AA) -- Bowling Green (A)
Brady North -- Hitting coach -- Charlotte (A) -- GCL Rays (Rookie)
Jeremy Owens -- Coach -- Charlotte (A) -- Bowling Green (A)
James McCallie -- Conditioning coach -- Charlotte (A) -- Bowling Green (A)
Jim Paduch -- Pitching coach -- Bowling Green (A) -- Princeton (Rookie)
Wuarnner Rincones -- Hitting coach -- Bowling Green (A) -- Princeton (Rookie)
Skeeter Barnes -- Coach -- Bowling Green (A) -- OF/baserunning coordinator
Jordan Brown -- Conditioning coach -- Bowling Green (A) -- Princeton (Rookie)
R.C. Lichtenstein -- Pitching coach -- Hudson Valley (Short-A) -- Montgomery (AA)
Joe Szekely -- Hitting coach -- Hudson Valley (Short-A) -- Charlotte (A)
German Melendez -- Coach -- Hudson Valley (Short-A) -- Princeton (Rookie)
Alberto Bastardo -- Pitching coach -- Princeton (Rookie) -- GCL Rays (Rookie)
Manny Castillo -- Hitting coach -- Princeton (Rookie) -- Bowling Green (A)
Jose Gonzalez -- Pitching coach -- GCL Rays (Rookie) -- Hudson Valley (Short-A)
Freire, 45, becomes a minor league field coordinator after spending three seasons as a coach with Hudson Valley. Before joining the Renegades, he was the field coordinator for the DSL Rays in 2016 and field coordinator for the VSL Rays from 2010-15. His position with the VSL Rays was his first role as a coach after a 13-year playing career in the Houston Astros (1994-96), Detroit Tigers (1997–2001), San Francisco Giants (2002-03) and Baltimore Orioles (2005-06) organizations.
Dement, 41, transitions to minor league hitting coordinator after 11 seasons as a hitting coach for various Rays affiliates. He is coming off a second season with Durham, after two seasons each with Montgomery, Bowling Green and Hudson Valley, and one season with Princeton. In 2007, he concluded an eight-year playing career in the Rays and Washington Nationals systems. The former infielder spent the first five years of his career with the Rays after signing as a non-drafted free agent.
Ochoa, 37, becomes a minor league infield coordinator after spending last season as a coach with Charlotte and the previous three on the coaching staff of the DSL Rays. He played 10 seasons of professional baseball with the Cleveland Indians (2001-06), Giants (2007-08), Boston Red Sox (2009) and Dodgers (2011), including 47 games in the majors in 2008.
Garza, 40, joins the Rays as a minor league pitching coordinator after five seasons as the pitching coach for Pepperdine University. He was selected by the Chicago White Sox as a position player in the 1997 June Draft but transitioned to pitcher in the second half of his eight-year minor league career. Following his playing career, he was on staff in the Rays and Los Angeles Angels organizations before entering the collegiate ranks as Riverside City College’s recruiting coordinator.
Brown, 39, joins the Rays as a minor league hitting coordinator after nine seasons as the head coach for Nova Southeastern University, including the program’s first-ever NCAA Division II National Championship in 2016. He signed with the Florida Marlins as a non-drafted free agent out of Lynn University in 2003 and played for four minor league seasons. Following his playing career, he was an assistant coach at Broward Community College for one season before joining the Astros as an area scout for two seasons (2009-10), where he signed three-time American League All-Star J.D. Martinez.
Prieto, 47, joins the Rays as a minor league outfield/baserunning coordinator after seven seasons in the Mariners organization, including the last six on the major league coaching staff. He was a quality assurance coach under Manager Lloyd McClendon from 2014-16, then spent three seasons on Scott Servais’ staff as a special projects coach (2017), first base coach (2018) and third base coach (2019). He played 13 seasons of professional baseball, including two games with the Angels in 2005, before joining the coaching ranks in 2011 with the San Diego Padres organization.
Butera, 27, enters his sixth season in professional baseball, fourth in a coaching capacity and third as a manager. He spent the last two seasons managing Hudson Valley, leading the Renegades to a combined 88-62 record and a playoff berth in both seasons. He began his coaching career as Princeton’s first base coach in 2017 and assisted with extended spring training in 2018 ahead of the New York-Penn League season. He was selected by the Rays in the 35th round of the 2015 June Draft out of Boston College and appeared in a total of 80 minor league games over two seasons.
Valenzuela, 32, enters his 15th season in professional baseball, fifth in a coaching capacity and second as a manager. He managed the GCL Rays last season after serving as a coach for three different affiliates before that: Princeton in 2018, Durham in 2017 (second half) and the GCL Rays in 2016. He spent the first half of the 2017 season traveling with the major league Rays and throwing batting practice. He began his coaching career following a four-year playing career in the Astros organization (2010-13), reaching as high as Double-A in his final season.
Smedley, 29, enters his eighth season in professional baseball, fourth in a coaching capacity and first as a manager. He spent the last two seasons on the coaching staff of Hudson Valley after one season as coach with the GCL Rays. He was signed by the Rays as a non-drafted free agent in June 2013 and played parts of three seasons in the Rays minor league system. Following his release in May 2016, he served as the video coordinator for Princeton.
Ruiz, 39, enters his 24th season in professional baseball, 16th in a coaching capacity and sixth as a manager. He managed Bowling Green last season, returning to the Hot Rods for a second stint (first stint: 2015-17) after one season at the helm for Charlotte in between. He previously served as hitting coach for Princeton (2012-14), Hudson Valley (2010-11) and the GCL Rays (2009), and as catching instructor for the VSL Rays (2007-08). He also spent two years (2005-06) as the hitting coach for the Navegantes del Magallanes in the Venezuelan Winter League after concluding an eight-year career as a professional catcher (1997–2005), the last five of which came in the Astros organization.
In baseball operations, Alex Roth has been hired as minor league dietitian; and Jenny Garcia, Carla Hodel, Josh Kozuch and Kris Goodman have been hired as mental performance coaches. Title changes within baseball operations include Dewey Robinson to director, pitching development; George Pappas to manager, minor league and international operations; Milton Jamail to advisor, player education and acculturation; and Winston Doom to assistant director, pitching development. In addition, assistant director, hitting development Cole Figueroa will see an increased on-field role.