When the Oakland A's announced that Sacramento River Cats' manager Darren Bush would be joining the A's coaching staff as a bullpen coach earlier this off-season, it was clear that several changes would be coming for the A's minor league coaching staffs in 2013. When the A's replaced departed minor league pitching coordinator Gil Patterson with River Cats' pitching coach Scott Emerson, the scope of those changes became even clearer.
On Wednesday, the A's made those changes official, announcing the staffs for their 2013 full-season affiliates, including their newest affiliate, the Beloit Snappers.
The Sacramento River Cats will defend their division title with a new manager and a new-old pitching coach. Steve Scarsone, who has managed the Double-A Midland Rockhounds for the past two years, takes over for Bush. The former San Francisco Giants infielder began his managerial career in the A's system in 2009 with Low-A Kane County and spent the 2010 season skippering the High-A Stockton Ports.
Scarsone will be joined in Sacramento by pitching coach Rick Rodriguez, who returns to the River Cats' coaching staff after spending the 2011-12 seasons as the A's bullpen coach. He was the River Cats' pitching coach from 2004-2010. Greg Sparks will return as the River Cats' hitting coach and Brad LaRosa will return at the team's trainer. Jared Elliot has been named the strength and conditioning coach.
Aaron Nieckula will get an opportunity to manage at the Double-A level after spending the past seven seasons managing at the Low-A and High-A levels of the A's organization. The former minor league catcher has a career 489-482 record as a manager. He led Kane County in 2006-2008, Stockton in 2009 and Low-A Burlington the past two seasons.
Nieckula will have Don Schulze on his staff as pitching coach. Schulze has been the Double-A Midland pitching coach for the past three seasons. Brian McArn, who was the longtime Sacramento hitting coach, will take that position in Midland after spending the past two seasons in Stockton. Tim Garland had been the Midland hitting coach the past two seasons. Justin Whitehouse will return as the Midland trainer.
Webster Garrison, a longtime coach and manager in the A's organization, returns as the skipper in Stockton for a third season. Garrison has managed in seven different seasons and has also served as a hitting coach in the A's organization. He led the Ports to a Cal League championship appearance in 2011.
Joining Garrison will be two newcomers to the High-A level: pitching coach Jimmy Escalante and hitting coach Haas Pratt. Escalante has been a pitching coach in the A's organization for seven seasons, all at the Low-A or short-season levels. He was the Arizona Rookie League A's pitching coach in 2012 and helped that team reach the league finals. Pratt, a former A's farmhand, had been the A's Low-A level hitting coach for the last four seasons (two with Kane County and two with Burlington). Travis Tims will be the Ports' athletic trainer and Sean Doran will be their strength and conditioning coach.
Another familiar name will be joining the A's minor league coaching ranks for the first time. Former A's outfielder Ryan Christenson will be the manager for the A's newest affiliate, the Low-A Beloit Snappers. Christenson played in 452 games in the major leagues.
He will be joined by another former big leaguer, pitching coach John Wasdin. Wasdin, who was the pitching coach at Low-A Burlington last season and short-season Vermont the year before that, pitched in the big leagues for 12 years.
Former A's farmhand Casey Myers will be the Snappers' hitting coach. The ASU alum has been a hitting coach for several years, and even served as a hitting coach/player with Double-A Midland in 2008. He was the hitting coach for the A's short-season A squads in 2009-2012.
As previously mentioned, Emerson will be the A's roving minor league pitching coordinator. Todd Steverson will return for a second year as the organization's roving minor league hitting coordinator. Marcus Jensen, who will also serve as the A's Arizona Rookie League manager, will be the roving minor league catching instructor. Nate Brooks has been named to the newly created role of minor league rehab coordinator.