On Monday afternoon, the KC Royals announced their minor league coaching staffs for the 2016 season, from Triple-A to rookie ball, along with their roving coordinators.
Now we know what happened to Brian Buchanan, Wilmington’s manager in 2015 (I’ll get to him in a second).
But first let’s start with Triple-A Omaha, where Brian Poldberg returns for his third season. Despite winning 80 games in 2015, the Storm Chasers missed out on the playoffs.
Tommy Gregg returns as the Storm Chasers hitting coach, his eighth year in that capacity. Andy Hawkins will be the new pitching coach, as he served the last seven years as the Texas Rangers bullpen coach. Hawkins replaces Al Nipper, who returned to the Detroit Tigers organization after just one season with the Royals organization.
Hawkins pitched in the big leagues from 1982-1991 with San Diego, the NY Yankees, and Oakland.
Both Dave Iannicca and Joe Greany return as athletic trainer and strength and conditioning coach.
Vance Wilson returns as manager for Double-A NW Arkansas for a third straight season after winning the Texas League North Division title in 2015. He has a completely new coaching staff, as veteran pitching coach Steve Luebber moves from Wilmington to NW Arkansas to re-join Wilson (they were together from 2012-2013 in Wilmington). Luebber was the Blue Rocks pitching coach for nine years.
Luebber replaces Jim Brower, who is now a Chicago Cubs roving pitching instructor.
Also joining the Naturals is Buchanan, who managed Wilmington to the Carolina League Northern Division title in 2015 and managed Lexington the previous two seasons.
Buchanan replaces Brandon Moore, who was in his first season as a coach in the Royals organization.
Both Masa Koyanagi and Austin Diggers return as athletic trainer and strength and conditioning coach.
Moving on to High-A Wilmington, where there will be their fifth manager in the last six seasons. Jamie Quirk returns to the Royals organization after managing at both the Double-A and Triple-A levels in 2015 with the San Diego Padres.
Abraham Nunez returns for a second season as the Blue Rocks hitting coach.
Replacing Luebber in 2016 will be Charlie Corbell, who was the minor league pitching coordinator for the Miami Marlins in 2015. He was the Marlins Triple-A pitching coach since 2011 before the 2015 season.
So the Royals went outside of the organization to fill the Blue Rocks coaching roles.
Jamie Stone returns for his fifth year as Blue Rocks athletic trainer.
Omar Ramirez returns as Low-A Lexington‘s manager (his second year) and his eighth with the organization (despite the Legends poor performance record-wise in 2015).
Hitting coach Damon Hollins and bench coach Glenn Hubbard return to the Legends, as does athletic trainer Mark Keiser.
The Legends will have a new pitching coach in former pitcher Mitch Stetter, who was rookie level Surprise’s pitching coach in 2015. He was also around Wilmington during the playoff clinching.
Rookie level Idaho Falls returns their entire coaching staff, beginning with manager Justin Gemoll. Pitching coach Jeff Suppan and hitting coach Andre David also return.
Justin Kemp will be the Chukars new athletic trainer.
Rookie level Burlington also returns its entire coaching staff, starting with manager Scott Thorman. Pitching coach Carlos Martinez and hitting coach Jesus Azajue are also back.
Also back is athletic trainer Saburo Hagihara.
Rookie level Surprise returns manager Darryl Kennedy after posting the best record in the AZL in 2015.
Carlos Reyes, who was the pitching coach with Lexington in 2015, joins fellow pitching coach Mark Davis with the Royals. Reyes served as co-pitching coach for Surprise during the Arizona Fall League season.
Nelson Liriano and Willie Aikens will serve as the Royals co-hitting coaches.
The Dominican Royals return their entire coaching staff, beginning with field coordinator Victor Baez and manager Miguel Bernard. Pitching coach Gustavo Martinez, hitting coach Onil Joseph, infield coach Ramon Martinez, and outfield coach Sergio de Luna also return.
Now to the roving positions, who I enjoy seeing in town from time-to-time.
Chino Cadahia returns as the Senior Coordinator of Player Development, his sixth year with the Royals organization. Bill Fischer returns as Senior Pitching Advisor. He returned to the Royals back in 2007. John Wathan is the Special Assistant to Player Development, as he is in his 40th year with the Royals. Harry Spilman is in his second season as a Special Assistant to Player Development.
Larry Carter, otherwise known as LC, is in his second season as the minor league pitching coordinator. He is in his 19th year with the Royals.
Terry Bradshaw returns as the minor league hitting coordinator for the fourth straight season. It will be his 17th season in the Royals organization.
Rafael Belliard begins his third season as Special Assistant to the GM. He will coordinate minor league infield instruction for the second straight year.
Milt Thompson, who can be seen in Wilmington a lot, returns for his fourth season as the outfield, baserunning, and bunting coordinator. In 2014, he was also the Blue Rocks hitting coach.
The minor league coaching staffs are now set. There is now a little over a month until pitchers and catchers report to spring training in Surprise, Arizona.