KANSAS CITY, MO. (January 7, 2019) - The Kansas City Royals today announced their minor league staff assignments and minor league coordinators for the 2019 season.
Omaha manager Brian Poldberg returns to lead the Storm Chasers for a sixth season, including a Triple-A championship in 2014. He will be joined on the bench by pitching coach, Andy Hawkins, who is returning to Omaha for his fourth season after serving as the bullpen coach of the Texas Rangers the previous seven seasons. Brian Buchanan will serve as Omaha's hitting coach for a second consecutive season. Buchanan is entering his 10th year in the organization, including a six-year run as manager at Idaho Falls (2010-11), Kane County (2012), Lexington (2013-14) and Wilmington (2015), plus one-year stints as the hitting coach at Northwest Arkansas (2016) and as the assistant hitting coach with the Major League club (2017). James Stone will serve as the club's certified athletic trainer after spending the previous seven years in the same capacity at Wilmington. Phil Falco will return for his third season as the strength and conditioning coach after serving in the same role at the Major League level with the Atlanta Braves for the previous nine seasons.
Northwest Arkansas will welcome a new manager, as Darryl Kennedy will take the reins after serving as the manager at Wilmington in 2018. Kennedy has previously managed in the organization with Surprise (2010-13, 2015-17) as well as stints with the Blue Rocks (2008, 2014, 2018), Burlington (2007) and Idaho Falls (2009). Kennedy's staff will include pitching coach Doug Henry, who served in a similar role at Wilmington last season after a five-year stint as the bullpen coach at the Major League level. Abraham Nunez also stays with Kennedy as the Naturals' hitting coach after holding the same title at Wilmington in 2018. Nelson Liriano is in his 18th year in the organization and will join the staff as the bench coach, after serving as the hitting coach at Burlington (Rookie) last season. Justin Kemp joins the staff as the certified athletic trainer after holding the title in Idaho Falls the previous three years. Will Gilmore will be the Naturals' strength and conditioning coach, entering his fifth year in the organization.
Wilmington will be led by Scott Thorman, who managed Lexington to the South Atlantic League crown last season. He spent two years with the Legends after managing Burlington from 2015-16. Steve Luebber will join Thorman as the Blue Rocks' pitching coach in 2019, his 14th year in the Royals' organization. Larry Sutton rejoins the Royals' organization as the hitting coach at Wilmington. A 1992 Kansas City draft pick, Sutton previously served as the hitting coach for the Royals' Dominican League squad from 2008-11, while he's also held positions in the Pittsburgh Pirates' organization as the Dominican field coordinator and minor league hitting coordinator in the interim. Saburo Hagihara will be in his first season with the Blue Rocks as the certified athletic trainer and 10th overall in the organization.
Lexington will defend its 2018 South Atlantic League championship with Brooks Conrad taking over as manager after leading Burlington in his first season in the organization last year. Conrad played in parts of six seasons in the Majors (2008-12, 2014) before retiring as a player following the 2015 campaign. Pitching coach Mitch Stetter will be in his fourth year in that role with the Legends, after holding the same title with Surprise in 2015. Hitting coach Jesus Azuaje also returns for his third-straight campaign with Lexington and fifth overall in the organization. Glenn Hubbard also returns for his sixth-straight season in Lexington, serving as the bench coach. Danny Accola will begin his third season in the organization and first as the Legends' certified athletic trainer, while Tyler Burks will be in his first year as the club's strength and conditioning coach.
Idaho Falls will be led by manager Omar Ramirez, who enters his second season in that role and 11th overall in the Royals' organization. He previously managed at Burlington (2017), Lexington (2015-16) and Idaho Falls (2012-14). He will be joined on the bench by pitching coach Clayton Mortensen, who is in his first year coaching after retiring as a player last season. Damon Hollins, in his 10th season with the Royals, will serve as a coach with the Chukars, while also serving as the assistant outfield, base running and bunting coordinator for the organization. Masa Koyanagi returns to Idaho Falls (2008-10) as the certified athletic trainer for his 12th year in the organization overall. Newcomer Jamie Collins will serve as the strength and conditioning coach.
Burlington will welcome new manager Chris Widger, who served as a bench coach at Wilmington in 2018. Prior to joining the Royals' organization, Widger served as manager of the independent league Camden Riversharks in 2015 and was their pitching coach from 2012-14. Carlos Martinez, in his 18th year in the Royals' organization, will serve as Burlington's pitching coach for the eighth straight season. The club's hitting coach will be Andy LaRoche, who is in his first year in this role after spending parts of six seasons (2007-11, 2013) in the Major Leagues as a player. Brad Groleau will serve as the athletic trainer, after spending the last two years as an athletic training intern with the Omaha Storm Chasers, as well as a graduate assistant athletic trainer at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. In his first year in the organization, Yannick Plante will be the strength and conditioning coach.
Surprise manager Tony Pena Jr. will return for this second-straight season in that position. His father managed the Royals from 2002-05. Mark Davis will return for his 14th year in the Royals' organization and his fourth straight as pitching coach in Surprise. He will be joined by Julio Pimentel, who is in his second season in the organization after holding the same title with the Dominican Royals in 2018. Ramon Castro will serve his second-straight season as the hitting coach with Surprise, while bench coach Willie Aikens enters his ninth season as a coach in the Royals' organization, including the last four in Surprise. Gavin Grosh returns for his third season as certified athletic trainer after spending the previous five seasons in the Mets organization. Newcomer Gareth Webber will serve as the strength and conditioning coach.
The Royals will once again feature two clubs in the Dominican Summer League with Victor Baez returning as the field coordinator for both teams. Onil Joseph and Ramon Martinez, who enters his 13th season in the organization, will serve as managers. Rafael Feliz and Jose Duran will serve as pitching coaches, and Evaristo Lantigua and Wilson Betemit will serve as hitting coaches. Miguel Bernard will be the catching coach, while Quilvio Veras will be the bunting and base running coach. Sergio De Luna and Pedro Rosario will also serve as assistants on the staff. Nevan Dominguez will be the head trainer, and he'll be assisted by Alessandro Bertozzo, Martin Berroa and Manuel Plaza. Jose Rosario, Severino Ventura and Andhis Binet will serve as strength and conditioning coaches.
Coordinators and Roving positions:
Senior coordinator of player development Chino Cadahia begins his ninth year in the organization and his 35th in coaching at the professional level. Cadahia previously served as the bench coach in Kansas City for two seasons (2012-13), after serving in that role with the Atlanta Braves from 2007-10. He was a part of the Atlanta organization from 1996-2010.
Rusty Kuntz will be in his second season as the special assistant to the general manager/quality control and 12th overall in the organization, after previously serving as the Major League club's first base coach from 2012-17 and 2008-10.
Rafael Belliard begins in his sixth year with the Royals as a special assistant to the general manager, while also working with the minor league infielders.
John Wathan, a former player and manager for the Royals, returns for his 47th season in baseball, and 43rd with the organization, as a special assistant to player development.
Harry Spilman enters his fifth year as a special assistant to player development. He came to the Royals' organization in 2015 after holding a similar title with the Texas Rangers from 2009-14.
Eddie Rodriguez returns for a third season as the Royals' minor league field coordinator after spending the previous three seasons in the San Diego Padres' organization. He spent the previous five seasons with the Royals (2009-13), most recently as the club's third base coach from 2011-13.
Larry Carter will begin his 22nd season in the Royals' organization and his fifth as the club's minor league pitching coordinator. In his time with the Royals, he's served as a pitching coach with Lansing (1998), Charleston (1999), Wilmington (2000-01), Wichita (2002-07), Northwest Arkansas (2008-12) and Omaha (2013-14), helping the Chasers to consecutive Triple-A championships, before being named to his current role.
Jason Simontacchi returns for his second season in the Royals' organization as assistant pitching coordinator, after spending the previous five seasons at various levels in the St. Louis Cardinals' organization. He was originally selected by Kansas City in the 21st round of the 1996 Draft and played four seasons in the Majors with St. Louis (2002-04) and the Washington Nationals (2007).
J.C. Boscan enters his third season as the Royals' minor league catching coordinator. He played in parts of 19 seasons in the minors, most recently in 2015 with Triple-A Omaha. Boscan also played in parts of four seasons in the Majors with Atlanta (2010-12) and the Chicago Cubs (2013).
Andre David will begin his 21st season in the Royals' organization and will serve as the minor league roving hitting coach. He was the hitting coach with Surprise last season and has served in similar roles with Burlington (2017) and Idaho Falls (2015-16), after holding the title at the Major League level in 2005-06 and as the Royals' assistant hitting coach in 2013.
Mike Sweeney returns for his sixth season as Special Assistant to Baseball Operations, while Reggie Sanders will begin his third season as Special Advisor to Baseball Operations in 2019.
Several staff members have new roles for 2019, including Leon Roberts, who will serve as the senior hitting advisor after two seasons as the hitting coach with Northwest Arkansas. Jeff Suppan, who will be a roving pitching coach after serving the previous four years as the pitching coach with Idaho Falls. Jeff Diskin will be in his first year as the director of professional development, after serving as the cultural development coordinator the previous five seasons. Former Royals' minor league pitcher, Malcom Culver, will be an assistant to player development. Newcomer John Wagle will be the organization's minor league strength and conditioning coordinator, while Jarret Abell - in his sixth season in the Royals' organization - will serve as the assistant strength and conditioning coordinator.