On Tuesday, the St. Louis Cardinals allowed the release of three of its 2009 minor league coaching staffs and followed with the remainder on Thursday. These announcements were held over a month earlier than last season, a move that signaled increased continuity – for good reason.
After all, they’re winners! The top six clubs in the system each finished with a winning record, in fact a combined 60 games over .500, and one, Batavia, was league champion in 2008.
Full staffs from three of those top six will be back in the same jobs in 2009: Memphis, Springfield and Quad Cities.
Chris Maloney and his entire Triple-A Memphis staff will return for 2009. They led the Redbirds to their first winning season since 2004, posting a record of 75-67 in 2008. Joining Maloney will be pitching coach Blaise Ilsley and hitting coach Mark Budaska, who are assigned to Memphis for their second season. Athletic trainer Chris Conroy will also be back in the Redbirds dugout for his fifth year with the Redbirds.
At Double-A Springfield, the Cards will again be led by Ron “Pop” Warner, who returns for his third year as Springfield’s manager and his 19th in the St. Louis system. Returning for his third year as hitting coach will be Derrick May, who begins his fifth year as a coach in the St. Louis minor league system and Bryan Eversgerd will again serve as the pitching coach, his second year in Springfield. Trainer Jay Pierson will also return in the same capacity, his second year in the organization.
The Cardinals Single-A affiliate at Quad Cities also has the same team of coaches for the 2009 season. The River Bandits will again be managed by Steve Dillard. He also led Quad Cities in 1993 and 1994 when they were an Astros affiliate and is 11 games managed and 29 wins away from franchise career bests in both categories. Joe Kruzel remains hitting coach. Same with pitching coach Arthur “Ace” Adams and trainer Brian Puchalski.
Now for the changes.
Tom Spencer will manage the Cardinals A-Advanced Florida State League club. Spencer previously served as the organization’s minor league outfield and base running instructor. Jeff Albert, entering his second season with the Cardinals, was promoted from short-season Batavia to serve as hitting coach at Palm Beach, replacing Keith Mitchell, who has left the organization. Pitching coach Dennis Martinez and trainer Eric Bauer return.
Gaylen Pitts, who managed Palm Beach the last two seasons, will serve as a roving instructor in 2009.
Mark DeJohn returns as manager at Batavia (A) of the New York-Penn League. Tim Leveque will be his new pitching coach. The 2009 season will be his fourth as a member of the Cardinals organization. Leveque served as pitching coach at Johnson City last season. Ramon Ortiz will assume hitting coach duties at Batavia after serving in the same role for the Gulf Coast League Cardinals last season. Manabu Kuwazuru is back as trainer.
Mike Shildt will be the new manager at Appalachian League Johnson City (R), replacing Joe Almaraz, who is returning to his long-time scouting role. Though this is his first professional managerial assignment, Shildt has been with the Cardinals since 2004 and also serves as coordinator for both minor league spring training and fall instructional league camps. Last season, he was the hitting coach at Johnson City.
New to the Cardinals, Johnny Rodriguez will serve as hitting coach for Johnson City. Rodriguez was with the Florida Marlins organization last season as hitting coach at short-season Jamestown. Doug White will serve as pitching coach at Johnson City after playing the same role at Batavia last season.
Gulf Coast League Cardinals
The Cardinals Gulf Coast League affiliate will sport an all-new coaching staff in 2009. Steve Turco, a longtime Cardinals scout, will take over managing duties from Enrique Brito, who is returning to the Cards’ international operations. Dernier Orozco will be the GCL pitching coach and Javier Meza hitting coach. Meza managed the last two seasons for the Cardinals in the Venezuelan Summer League, while Orozco had been pitching coach for the VSL Cardinals the last three years.
Coaching assignments for the Dominican Summer League Cardinals and
Venezuelan Summer League Cardinals have not yet been announced.
The Cardinals 2009 minor league coaching assignments:
* - Returning coach/trainer
^ - Returning coach/trainer with new assignment
Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com.
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