The Blue Jays announced their minor league instructional staffs this week, and there was a mix of old and new faces.
Tim Raines was welcomed back into the organization after having accepted an ambassadorship position with the White Sox. Formerly a roving Base Running and Outfield coach with the Blue Jays, Raines will be serving as a Special Assistant. Director of Player Development Gil Kim said that Raines will be on assignments during Spring Training, the regular season, and Instructs:
While most of the focus will be on basestealing development, Rock brings a wealth of playing and teaching experience, and will be utilized in a variety of ways to help both our players and our staff.
The Blue Jays obviously don’t like to say good-bye to quality staff. Just over a month ago, Assistant GM Andrew Tinnish appeared on his way to Atlanta, only to have a change of heart a few days later.
Bobby Meacham returns to Buffalo for a second year to Manage the Bisons:
Bob Stanley, Devon White to return to #Bisons coaching staff in 2018. Corey Hart joins Herd as new hitting coach.
— Buffalo Bisons (@BuffaloBisons) January 10, 2018
Hart is a rising star in the system with his work as Dunedin’s Hitting Coach after joining the organization last year. Only a couple of seasons removed from his playing days, Hart drew raves for his work in the Arizona Fall League, and seems destined for bigger things. According to Kim, he quickly and easily builds a rapport with young hitters:
Our hitters really connect with Corey – he loves talking hitting, knows how to teach the swing, knows how to teach approach, and stays simple and positive.
Hart takes over from Blue Jays World Series hero White, who will serve as Buffalo’s Outfield and Baserunning Coach.
New Hampshire will also feature a Blue Jays staffer whose stock is on the rise in Manager John Schneider.
Introducing the youngest manager in Fisher Cats history, John Schneider! He’s put together quite the resume already…read more about the new skipper and the rest of the 2018 coaching staff here: https://t.co/AlSLhTAhyX pic.twitter.com/AfQ9Ufcjkj
— NH Fisher Cats (@FisherCats) January 10, 2018
Schneider is a Blue Jays lifer, joining the organization after being drafted in 2002. He began his dugout career in 2009, Managing the GCL Jays. Schneider has worked in the lower levels of the system until last year, when he managed Dunedin to a share of the Florida State League title. C Danny Jansen credited the former backstop for much of his success in handling Pitchers while with the D-Jays, and Ryan Borucki, who Pitched for Schneider in Dunedin as well, was pumped at the news of him moving up the ladder:
Update: Blue Jays pitching prospect Ryan Borucki approves. pic.twitter.com/44cg4pnhmT
— NH Fisher Cats (@FisherCats) January 10, 2018
Nova Scotian Vince Horsman returns as the Fisher Cats’ Pitching Coach, and Andy Fermin will be back as Position Coach. New to the organization is Hunter Mense, who was drafted by the Marlins, and served as the Hitting Coach with the Padres Northwest League affiliate last year. Mense’s background is a good fit with the Blue Jays High Performance group, according to Kim:
Hunter has a background as a player and has coached at both the pro and collegiate levels. He’s also a strong learner who has a Masters in Sports Psychology. He has a strong work ethic, and a true passion for developing hitting.
Former MLBer Casey Candaele, who was the Mariner’s First Base Coach this year, takes over the Manager’s reigns at Dunedin:
Blue Jays Announce 2018 Coaching Staff:
Full story https://t.co/uSQmx3I36X
Hitting Coach-Donnie Murphy
Pitching Coach-Mark Riggins
Athletic Trainer-Dan Leja
Strength and Conditioning-Kyle Edlhuber pic.twitter.com/4ucqoGV5Hm
— Dunedin Blue Jays (@DunedinBlueJays) January 10, 2018
Kim is thrilled with the depth of knowledge Candaele brings to Dunedin:
Casey brings knowledge and experience in so many areas, having previous experience coordinating Infield and Baserunning development along with one year as a Field Coordinator. He’s had experience as a Major League player, and as a Major League coach. We’re excited to welcome Casey’s high energy and creativity as a leader in our department.
At Low A Lansing, Cesar Martin returns to helm the Lugnuts:
NEWS: Cesar Martín returns to manage the 2018 Lugnuts! His staff includes the returning Antonio Caceres at pitching coach, Matt Young at hitting coach, plus a Pano, a Spano, and more.
— Lansing Lugnuts (@LansingLugnuts) January 10, 2018
Antonio Carceres, who had served a stint as the Lugs’ Pitching Coach in 2009 and 2010, returns to Lansing after seven years with Bluefield. Matt Young, who played with the Braves and Tigers, operated a baseball academy in Texas before joining the Jays this year, and will be Lansing’s Hitting Coach.
Short Season Vancouver will have a new man running the club this year. Dallas McPherson, a two-time MiLB POY in the Angels system, takes over from the departed Rich Miller. Longtime Blue Jays minor league Pitching Coach Jim Czajkowski returns, and will be joined by former Jays minor leaguer Aaron Matthews. Matthews replaces Dave Pano, who will be joining Lansing’s staff. Kim is high on McPherson:
Dallas McPherson comes to us from King’s Ridge Christian School in Georgia, where he served as the head varsity coach and also founded the Hard Knox travel ball program. Dallas has a good knowledge of the game, experience as a player and strong leadership skills. He’s open-minded and is constantly trying to improve himself
Veteran Blue Jays staffer Dennis Holmberg, who has been in the organization since 1979, returns to Manage Bluefield. Adam Bernero, who Pitched for five teams in a 7-year MLB career, joins the team as Pitching Coach. Bernero, who has a Masters in Sport and Performance Psychology, served as a Pitching and Mental Performance Coach with Dunedin last year.
Luis Hurtado will return as the GCL Jays Manager, along with Hitting Coach Paul Elliott. Rafael Lazo moves up from the DSL to act as Pitching Coach, while Mark Worrell joins the team as a part-time Pitching Coach. Former Blue Jays farmhand George Carroll, who helped rehabbing players at the Minor League complex last year, will joing the staff as a Position Coach.
John Tamargo Jr will return for a second season as the DSL Jays Manager.
Jeff Ware will return as the Roving Pitching Instructor, as will Ken Huckaby as the Catching Co-Ordinator. Guillermo Martinez, who served as the system’s Hitting Instructor from 2011-2013, returns after three seasons with the Cubs.
After two seasons of little change among the minor league staff, it was time to head in a new, more Sport Science-oriented direction. Kim concluded:
We’ve made several changes and additions in the past two years, and we’ve also seen some of our staff members take advantage of different opportunities whether that’s within or outside the organization. We realize that at the same time that players are continuously striving to get better, we are as individual staff members and we are as a department.