For the first time in four years, the High-A Wilmington Blue Rocks will be returning their manager. Jamie Quirk, who guided the Blue Rocks in 2016 to a division-worst 54-84 record, is back at the helm for the Blue Rocks 25th season. Also re-joining him are pitching coach Charlie Corbell and hitting coach Abraham Nunez.
It will be just the second time in the seven years I have covered the Blue Rocks that the manager will be returning (Vance Wilson guided the Blue Rocks in 2012 and 2013).
So how about the rest of the KC Royals minor league teams?
Triple-A Omaha will be returning their coaching staff, as Brian Poldberg returns as manager for the fourth straight season, after a disappointing 2016 season (58-82, last place in the Pacific Coast League). Andy Hawkins is back for his second season as pitching coach and Tommy Gregg is back for his ninth season as hitting coach.
Double-A NW Arkansas returns manager Vance Wilson for his fourth straight season, after leading the team to the Texas League Championship Series in 2016. Steve Luebber returns for a second season as pitching coach (his 11th in the organization). There is a change at hitting coach, as Brian Buchanan was named the Royals assistant hitting coach prior to the holidays. The Naturals new hitting coach will be Leon Roberts, who comes to the Royals organization via the Houston Astros.
The most changes to the coaching staffs comes with Low-A Lexington. Their will be a new manager, as Scott Thorman takes over after managing rookie level Burlington the last two seasons. With the Royals in 2016, Thorman was named Manager of the Year in the Appalachian League, guiding the team to the AL Championship Series (42-26 record). Mitch Stetter is back as the Legends pitching coach after taking over in 2016. Thorman brings hits hitting coach in Burlington with him to Lexington, as Jesus Azuaje joins him.
Rookie level Idaho Falls returns manager Justin Gemoll for the third straight season, after guiding them to a 40-36 record in 2016. Pitching coach Jeff Suppan also returns for his third straight season. Damon Hollins is the Chukars new hitting coach, after serving in that same capacity with Lexington the last two seasons. Hollins is in his eighth season in the organization.
Former Lexington manager Omar Ramirez (he was the Legends leader the last two seasons) is now the manager with rookie level Burlington. Pitching coach Carlos Martinez is back with the Royals for his sixth straight season. Andre David is the Royals new hitting coach, after serving in that same capacity the last two seasons with Idaho Falls. David is in his 19th season in the organization.
Rookie level Arizona returns manager Darryl Kennedy for the third straight season after guiding the team to the postseason in 2016. Hitting coaches Nelson Liriano and Willie Aikens return, as do pitching coaches Mark Davis and Carlos Reyes (who oversees the rehabbing pitchers).
Two new additions to the Royals roving coaching staff are former players Mitch Maier (minor league outfielder and base running coordinator) and JC Boscan (minor league catching coordinator). I look forward to seeing both throughout the season in Wilmington.
Eddie Rodriguez is the new minor league field coordinator, after spending the last three seasons with the SD Padres. He was the Royals third base coach from 2011-2013.