The Oakland A’s 2015 minor league coaching assignments are now in place, and there are plenty of familiar faces in new places.
As I reported on November 20, Greg Sparks will be the A’s new minor league hitting coordinator, Garvin Alston will be the A’s new minor league pitching coordinator and Craig Lefferts will be the A’s new minor league rehab coordinator. Joining those three in organization-wide positions will be Aaron Nieckula, who assumes a new position as A’s minor league field coordinator, and Juan Navarette, who returns for his 21st season with the organization and will continue overseeing the A’s minor league defensive, base-running and bunting.
As part of this new position, Nieckula will be responsible for running minor league spring training, extended spring training and the A’s fall Instructional League. Nieckula has been a manager in the A’s system for the past nine seasons and he won the Texas League championship with Double-A Midland last year. In addition to his duties as field coordinator, Nieckula will manage the A’s short-season affiliate in Vermont. Second-year hitting coach Tom Everidge will return to Vermont in that capacity. He will be joined by Carlos Chavez as the Lake Monsters’ pitching coach. Chavez was the Arizona Rookie League pitching coach the past two seasons.
Steve Scarsone returns for a third season as the manager of the A’s Triple-A affiliate. He will be joined in Nashville by hitting coach Webster Garrison and pitching coach Don Schulze. Both Garrison and Schulze were on Nieckula’s championship Midland staff last season and both are longtime coaches in the A’s system. This is each of their first assignments at the Triple-A level.
For a third straight season, Ryan Christenson and John Wasdin are moving up in the A’s system. Christenson will be the manager for Double-A Midland after skippering the Low-A Beloit Snappers in 2013 and the High-A Stockton Ports in 2014. Wasdin will be the pitching coach in Midland after serving as Christenson’s pitching coach each of the past two years. Eric Martins, a longtime and well-respected scout in the A’s organization, will serve as Midland’s hitting coach. Several of the A’s top prospects such as Daniel Robertson, Matt Olson, Renato Nunez and Michael Ynoa have played for Christenson and Wasdin the past two years and will likely join them again in Midland.
The Stockton Ports will be led by manager Rick Magnante, who spent last season managing the Beloit Snappers. Before last year, Magnante had managed 11 seasons for the A’s short-season affiliates. He is also a longtime scout for the organization. He will be joined by pitching coach Rick Rodriguez, who had been the A’s Triple-A pitching coach in 2013 and 2014. Rodriguez has spent 31 years in the A’s organization, including seven as a player and two as the A’s big league bullpen coach. Brian McArn will return to Stockton as the Ports’ hitting coach. He is in his 18th year with the organization. This will be McArn’s fourth season as a hitting coach in Stockton.
The Beloit Snappers will be managed by a newcomer to the organization, Fran Riordan. He joins the A’s from the independent Frontier League, where he managed for the past four years. Riordan played seven seasons in independent leagues before getting into coaching. His pitching coach will be Steve Connelly, who served as the Vermont pitching coach in 2014, his first season coaching in the A’s organization. Lloyd Turner returns for his second season as the Snappers’ hitting coach.
The Arizona Rookie League A’s will be led once again by Ruben Escalera, who was the AZL A’s manager in 2014. Ariel Prieto joins his staff as the pitching coach. Prieto had been on the A’s big league staff since 2012. Juan Dilone will return for a seventh year as the team’s hitting coach and Gabriel Ortiz will be on the staff as a coach, as well.
The A’s training staff will be as follows: Triple-A – Brad LaRosa (trainer) and Terence Brannic (strength coach); Double-A – Justin Whitehouse (trainer) and A.J. Seeliger (strength coach); High-A – Travis Tims (trainer) and Henry Torres (strength coach); Low-A – Brian Thorson (trainer) and JD Howell (strength coach); short-season A – Toshi Nagahara (trainer); Rookie ball – Chris Lessner (trainer).