The St. Louis Cardinals completed their minor league coaching staffs and announced staff promotions within the minor league and scouting departments.
Former Major Leaguer and native Nicaraguan Dennis Martinez was introduced as pitching coach for the Cardinals new Gulf Coast League entry. “El Presidente”, 51, pitched from 1976-98 for Baltimore, Montreal, Cleveland, Seattle and Atlanta, and was selected to four All-Star Games while compiling a career mark of 245-193 with a 3.70 ERA in 692 games. Enrique Brito, who served as Latin American supervisor in the Cardinals scouting department, was promoted to manage the Gulf Coast League Cardinals.
The selection of Martinez and Brito, the right-hand man of Cardinals Vice President Jeff Luhnow in the Cardinals Latin American affairs, signal an increasing understanding of the importance of this player pipeline to the organization and as such are excellent choices for their new assignments.
Rick Eckstein, older brother of World Series MVP David Eckstein, was hired as the new hitting coach at Triple-A Memphis, replacing Tommy Gregg, who was not retained. Eckstein most recently served as hitting coach for the Washington Nationals’ Triple-A affiliate in New Orleans. Rick also served as the bullpen coach with Team USA in the inaugural World Baseball Classic.
No stranger to the Cardinals’ organization, Gaylen Pitts returns to manage the Single-A Palm Beach Cardinals in 2007. Pitts managed the Yankees’ New York-Penn League affiliate in Staten Island last season. He worked in a variety of capacities in the Cardinals’ organization from 1981-2001, including Major League bench coach from 1991-94 and third base coach in 1995.
Additional moves within the Cardinals’ field staff include the promotion of Joe Almaraz to manager of the Johnson City Cardinals. This is another solid choice as Almaraz has been a top scout and talent evaluator for the organization. He replaces Dan Radison, who was promoted to minor league hitting instructor and will assist Gene Tenace, the club’s current hitting coordinator.
The organization will likely utilize some combination of scouts as position coaches for the Johnson City and Gulf Coast League clubs. Additionally, since Radison will be roving primarily at the lower levels, there will be less need for a full-time coach. It also gives scouts a chance to get some on-field experience with the younger players.
Front office moves include the promotion of John Vuch to Director of Minor League Baseball Operations. The 2007 season will be Vuch’s 20th in the Cardinals’ player development department and 29th overall season with St. Louis.
Dan Kantrovitz was promoted to director of college scouting. Anup Sinha was promoted to East region college specialist and Michael Elias hired as Central region college specialist. Jeff Ishii was promoted to an area scout covering Southern California.
The Cardinals 2007 minor league coaching assignments at its seven classifications:
||Ron “Pop” Warner^
|Palm Beach (A)
|Quad Cities (A)
|Johnson City (R)
|GCL Cardinals (R)
* - Returning coach/trainer
^ - Returning coach/trainer with new assignment