The Double-A Springfield Cardinals will have a new hitting coach, as Joe Cunningham will join manager Chris Maloney's staff that also includes pitching coach Blaise Ilsley. Cunningham, 43, served as manager for the Swing of the Quad Cities last season and guided the Cardinals low Single-A club to the Midwest League postseason. This will be his 17th season in the Cardinals organization and he is the son of former Cardinals' All-Star outfielder and longtime front office employee Joe Cunningham, Jr.
Keith Mitchell will take over the managerial duties for Cunningham at Quad Cities. Mitchell served as hitting coach for the Swing in 2005, his first professional coaching assignment after retiring as a player following the 2003 season. The 36-year-old played professionally for 18 seasons, including 128 major league games split between Atlanta, Seattle, Cincinnati and Boston.
Randy Whisler will join the Cardinals' organization as the hitting coach at Quad Cities. Whisler spent the last two seasons with the Cincinnati Reds as their major league first base coach and infield instructor. The upcoming season will be the 17th of his professional baseball career. The 43-year-old managed three seasons for the Padres rookie league club in Peoria from 1997-99 and served on the coaching staff at the Padres Triple-A affiliate in Las Vegas in 2000. He broke into the coaching ranks in the Texas Rangers minor league system from 1990-94. Whisler played two seasons in the Toronto organization before returning to his alma mater, Oklahoma State University to complete his bachelor degree and earn his masters degree.
The Cardinals new short-season affiliate in the New York-Penn League is State College (PA) and Mark DeJohn will manage the Spikes in their inaugural season. This will be DeJohn's second season as skipper for the Cardinals short-season entry in the New York-Penn League as he was bench boss for New Jersey last season. Prior to the onset of games in June, he will serve as minor league infield coordinator, the same role he served last season for the Cardinals. DeJohn has been instructing in the Cardinals organization since 1986 and served as a coach at the major league level from 1996-2001.
Mike Schildt will serve as position coach at State College in addition to keeping area-scouting responsibilities, a duty he has performed the last three seasons with St. Louis. Prior to joining the Cardinals organization, he worked three years as an associate scout for the Major League Scouting Bureau. Schildt, 37, has five years of collegiate coaching under his belt split between stops at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and University of North Carolina at Asheville. He is a native of Charlotte, NC and currently resides in Matthews, NC.
Steve Balboni will assist the State College coaching staff as a hitting instructor. A veteran of 10 Major League seasons (1981-91), Balboni returns to the Cardinals organization where he served as Double-A hitting coach from 2002-2004. He has also coached one year in the former Montreal system (2001) and three seasons in the Kansas City organization (1998-2000).
A native of St. Louis, Dan Radison will be the new manager at short-season Johnson City (A). It's a homecoming for Radison as he spent time as a minor league catcher for the Cardinals and four years as a manager in the farm system. The four seasons as a bench boss included two at Johnson City in 1986 and 1987. His '87 squad captured the Southern Division title with a 47-27 record and the '86 club featured a league-best 44-22 mark. Radison was a coach at Vero Beach last season in the Dodgers system and overall has 10 years experience as a minor league skipper with a career record of 488-431 (.531).
The Cardinals also announced today the hiring of Dann Bilardello as minor league catching coordinator. He spent the last four seasons as a minor league manager, most recently last season with the Single-A Wilmington Blue Rocks, a Boston Red Sox affiliate. Prior to Wilmington, Bilardello served three seasons as a manager in the Dodgers organization that included two first-place finishes and a Pioneer League (A) championship with Great Falls in 2002. He played eight major league seasons as a catcher with Cincinnati (1983-85), Montreal (1986), Pittsburgh (1989-90) and San Diego (1991-92).
Below is an overview of the Cardinals 2006 minor league coaching staffs, including instructors, with new assignments depicted in bold type:
|Memphis||Pacific Coast (AAA)||Danny Sheaffer||Tommy Gregg||Dyar Miller|
|Springfield||Texas (AA)||Chris Maloney||Joe Cunningham||Blaise Ilsley|
|Palm Beach||Florida State (A)||Ron Warner||Derrick May||Derek Lilliquist|
|Quad Cities||Midwest (A)||Keith Mitchell||Randy Whisler||Bryan Eversgerd|
|State College||New York-Penn (A)||Mark DeJohn||Mike Schildt||Sid Monge|
|Johnson City||Appalachian (A)||Dan Radison||Joe Almaraz||Al Holland|
George Kissell, senior field coordinator for player development
Jim Riggleman, minor league field coordinator
Mark Riggins, minor league pitching coordinator
Gene Tenace, minor league hitting coordinator
Tom Spencer, minor league baserunning/outfield instructor
Mark DeJohn, minor league infield coordinator
Dann Bilardello, minor league catching coordinator
Dave Ricketts, minor league catching instructor