Royals announce baseball operations promotions and hires

January 9th, 2020

KANSAS CITY, MO (January 9, 2020) – The Kansas City Royals today announced several promotions and new hires to the baseball operations staff.

Nick Relic has been promoted to Manager of Minor League Operations, after serving as the club’s Assistant to Player Development and Video Coordinator for the previous three years. Relic is in his 10th season with the Royals’ organization, including two seasons as a Minor League Video Coordinator from 2015-16 and two seasons as a Baseball Operations intern from 2013-14. He first joined the Royals as a video department intern at Omaha (AAA) in 2011.

John Wagle has been promoted to Director of Performance Science and Player Development after being named the Royals’ Minor League Strength & Conditioning Coordinator last season. Prior to joining the organization, he spent three years pursuing his PhD in sport physiology at East Tennessee State University, which he completed in May of 2019. Wagle also holds a master’s in exercise science from Western Illinois University, an MBA from Loyola University in Chicago and a BA in physics from Augustana College in Illinois.

Jason Simontacchi has been named the Royals Pitching Coordinator, after serving as the Assistant Pitching Coordinator from 2018-19. He was originally drafted by Kansas City in 1996 before playing four seasons in the Majors with St. Louis (2002-04) and Washington (2007). Prior to re-joining the Royals’ organization, he worked in various roles throughout the Cardinals’ minor league system for five years.

Mitch Stetter has been named Manager of Pitching Performance, after spending the five previous seasons in the Royals’ organization as the Pitching Coach at Lexington (A) from 2016-19 and Surprise (R) in 2015. He pitched five seasons with Milwaukee from 2007-11 and set a Brewers record in 2009 by recording 15 consecutive outs on strikeouts.

Derrick Lewis joins the Royals’ organization as Assistant Pitching Coach in 2020. He spent the previous 16 seasons in the Atlanta Braves’ organization, including the last two as the Pitching Coordinator. He played seven seasons in the Braves’ organization from 1997-2003, after being selected in the 20th round of the 1997 Draft.

Drew Saylor joins the Royals’ organization as the Hitting Coordinator in 2020. He spent the 2019 season as the Assistant Hitting Coordinator and Manager at West Virginia (A) in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ organization. Prior to that, he produced a 242-178 record (.576) in three seasons as Manager at Rancho Cucamonga (A+) in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ organization, including an 87-53 mark and a California League championship in 2018. Following that season, he was named Minor League Baseball’s Manager of the Year by Baseball America. Saylor also spent four years in the Colorado Rockies’ organization as the Hitting Coach at Grand Junction (R) in 2012, Manager at Tri-City (A) from 2013-14 and Hitting Coach at Modesto (A+) in 2015. He was selected as an infielder by the Marlins in the 13th round of the 2006 Draft out of Kent State University, and played for two seasons in the minors for the Marlins (2006) and Astros (2007).

Keoni DeRenne joins the Royals’ organization as the Assistant Hitting Coordinator, after spending last season as the Hitting Coach at Iowa (AAA) in the Chicago Cubs’ organization. Prior to that, he spent seven seasons as a Hitting Coach in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ organization at Altoona (AA) in 2018, Bradenton (A) from 2016-17 and West Virginia (A) from 2014-15. He also managed the Pirates’ Dominican Summer League team in 2013. DeRenne has won two league championships as a coach, including the first season of his coaching career in 2012 with the Gulf Coast League Pirates, and with Bradenton in 2016. DeRenne played eight seasons in the minors with the Braves, Yankees, Diamondbacks, Red Sox and Phillies, after being selected in the 12th round of the 2000 Draft out of the University of Arizona. He is the great grandson of Wilbur Cooper, Pittsburgh’s all-time wins leader (202).

Mike Tosar joins the Royals’ organization as the Special Assignment Hitting Coach in 2020, after serving as an International Scout and Special Assignment Hitting Coach with the Los Angeles Dodgers from 2012-19. Prior to that, he served in various scouting and coaching roles throughout the Seattle Mariners’ organization from 2006-09. He also served as a Hitting Coach at Fort Myers (A+) in the Minnesota Twins’ organization in 2002, as a scout with the Florida Marlins from 2000-01, and as a coach in the Tampa Bay Rays’ organization from 1996-99. Prior to his scouting and coaching career, Tosar played three seasons in the minor leagues with the New York Mets (1991) and Montreal Expos (1992-93). Tosar, who lives in Miami, threw to former Royal Mike Moustakas in the 2017 Home Run Derby at Marlins Park.

Damon Hollins has been named Coordinator of Outfield, Base Running and Bunting for the 2020 season, which will mark his 11th year in the Royals’ organization. Prior to a three-year stint as Hitting Coach at Idaho Falls (R) from 2017-19, he coached in various roles throughout the organization at Lexington (A) from 2015-16, Idaho Falls from 2013-14, Wilmington (A+) in 2012, Kane County (A) in 2011 and Burlington (R) in 2010. Hollins was a fourth-round pick by Atlanta in the 1992 Draft and played four seasons in the Majors with Atlanta (1998, 2004), the Los Angeles Dodgers (1998) and Tampa Bay (2005-06).

Jarret Abell will serve as the Coordinator of Strength & Conditioning, after serving as the Assistant Strength & Conditioning Coordinator in 2019. Prior to that, he was the Strength & Conditioning Coach with Northwest Arkansas (AA) from 2017-18, Wilmington (A+) in 2016, Lexington (A) in 2015 and Idaho Falls (R) in 2014.

Phil Falco will be the Assistant Strength & Conditioning Coach in 2020, after serving as the Strength & Conditioning Coach at Omaha (AAA) from 2017-19. Prior to that, he spent nine seasons as the Strength & Conditioning Coach at the Major League level with the Atlanta Braves from 2008-16. He previously was the Braves’ Roving Strength & Conditioning Coach from 1998-99 and 2003-08. Prior to that, he was the Strength & Conditioning coach with the Milwaukee Brewers from 2000-02.

Rustin Sveum has been promoted to Minor League Video Coordinator, after serving as a video intern the three previous seasons at Idaho Falls (2017), Wilmington (2018) and Northwest Arkansas (2019). He played baseball at Dixie State University in Utah from 2012-16, and graduated in 2017 with a degree in business administration. Rustin is the son of Dale Sveum, who served as the Royals’ Bench Coach from 2018-19, Hitting Coach from 2014-17 and Third Base Coach in 2014.

Derrick Robinson re-joins the organization in 2020 as a Baseball Operations Intern. He was selected by the Royals in the fourth round of the 2006 Draft and played for 10 seasons, including one year in the Majors with Cincinnati in 2013.