Rays name Minor League coaching staffs

The Tampa Bay Rays have named the minor league on-field coaching and medical staffs for the 2018 season. Among the organizational changes are Jamie Nelson (coach) joining the staff of Double-A Montgomery and Rick Knapp (pitching coach) hired to join Triple-A Durham. Moving into roles as minor league coordinators are Michael Johns (field), Hector Torres (infield) and Aaron Scott (medical). In addition, Tomas Francisco will make his professional managerial debut for the Gulf Coast League Rays.

January 10th, 2018

The Tampa Bay Rays have named the minor league on-field coaching and medical staffs for the 2018 season. Among the organizational changes are Jamie Nelson (coach) joining the staff of Double-A Montgomery and Rick Knapp (pitching coach) hired to join Triple-A Durham. Moving into roles as minor league coordinators are Michael Johns (field), Hector Torres (infield) and Aaron Scott (medical). In addition, Tomas Francisco will make his professional managerial debut for the Gulf Coast League Rays.

Nelson, 58, joins Montgomery after spending the previous five seasons as a major league coach for the Rays, assisting hitting coach Chad Mottola and working with the catchers. Prior to joining the major league club, he spent five seasons as the Rays minor league catching coordinator. His coaching career at the professional level began in the Rays organization in 2000, serving as a hitting coach for Rookie-level Princeton for one season before holding the same position for Class-A Charleston from 2001-02. He also managed Princeton for five seasons (2003-07). The 2018 season will mark his 31st season in professional baseball and 19th in the Rays organization.

Knapp, 56, has joined the Rays organization as pitching coach for Durham, replacing Kyle Snyder, who was promoted to the Rays major league staff. He was the major league pitching coach for the Detroit Tigers from 2008-11, the minor league pitching coordinator for the Kansas City Royals in 2012 and minor league pitching coordinator for the Los Angeles Dodgers from 2013-16. In 2017, he was the international pitching coordinator for Major League Baseball. He began his coaching career in the Texas Rangers (1988-95) and Minnesota Twins (1996-2007) organizations. He was selected by the Rangers in the 1983 June Draft out of Virginia Tech and pitched for five seasons in the minor leagues.

Johns, 42, has been assigned to the role of minor league field coordinator, joining Jim Hoff and Bill Evers. Johns has spent the previous eight seasons managing minor league affiliates: Class-A Charlotte (2015-17), Class-A Bowling Green (2014), Short-A Hudson Valley (2013) and Princeton (2010-12). He was the head coach at Orange Park (Fla.) High School from 2004-07 prior to joining the Rays. The former middle infielder was selected by the Colorado Rockies in the 19th round of the 1997 June Draft, and played two years for their Class-A affiliates in Portland, Ore. and Asheville, N.C.

Torres, 72, becomes minor league infield coordinator after spending his previous 12 years in the Rays organization as a coach with Bowling Green (2017, 2009), the GCL Rays (2010-16), Princeton (2008), Montgomery (2007, 2005) and Hudson Valley (2006). He spent the first 24 years of his coaching career with the Toronto Blue Jays, serving as a coach, manager or instructor from 1979-2002. He was a member of the Blue Jays major league coaching staff for two seasons (1990-91). The former infielder was originally signed by the San Francisco Giants in 1962 and played nine seasons in the majors with the Houston Astros (1968-70, 1973), Chicago Cubs (1971), Montreal Expos (1972), San Diego Padres (1975-76) and Blue Jays (1977).

Scott, 38, has been named minor league medical training coordinator, replacing Joe Benge, who was promoted to the Rays major league staff as head athletic trainer. He spent the 2017 season with Charlotte and has prior experience with the Philadelphia Phillies (2015-16) and Baltimore Orioles (2004-14) organizations. He was named the 2009 South Atlantic League Trainer of the Year while working for the Class-A Delmarva Shorebirds (Orioles). He was an athletic trainer in college at the University of Northern Iowa, then completed two internships with the NFL's Detroit Lions and was the assistant athletic trainer for the Berlin Thunder of NFL Europe prior to joining the Orioles.

Francisco, 29, will manage the GCL Rays. He spent five seasons as a coach between the GCL Rays (2016-17) and Dominican Summer League Rays (2013-15) after retiring from a four-year playing career in the Rays system. The former catcher originally signed with the Rays in May 2006 and started his pro career with the DSL Rays, reaching as high as Bowling Green in 2010.

Joining the organization as coaches are Ben Johnson (Durham) and Jeremy Owens (Bowling Green). In addition, Tsu-tomu Kamiya (Hudson Valley) and Peter Walukiewicz (GCL Rays) have been hired as athletic trainers, and Carlos Gonzalez (Montgomery) and James McCallie (Bowling Green) have been hired as conditioning coaches.