Ed Sprague photo by Kimberly Contreras

Oakland A's announce changes to 2017 MiLB coaching staff

The Oakland A's announce changes to their 2017 minor league coaching staffs.

The Oakland A's 2017 have announced their 2017 MiLB coaching staffs and there are significant changes from the 2016 staffs. The changes begin near the top, as the A's have promoted former big leaguer and University of Pacific baseball coach Ed Sprague to the position of Coordinator of Instruction. Gil Patterson (minor league pitching coordinator), Jim Eppard (minor league hitting coordinator), Juan Navarette (minor league fielding coordinator) and Craig Lefferts (minor league rehab coordinator) return in their system-wide roles. Aaron Nieckula will also continue as the A's minor league field coordinator, running the organization's minor league spring training camps and fall Instructional League. 

Sprague's role within the A's organization is new. He will be responsible for developing programs that will maintain continuity within the system from the upper-levels to the lowest-levels. Sprague is expected to use stats and input from the front office along with on-the-field work to enhance the A's player development program. Sprague was a consultant with the A's Player Development Department in 2016 and drew praise for his work last season. The former big league infielder spent 12 seasons as the manager of the University of the Pacific baseball program before joining the A's last year. 

http://www.scout.com/mlb/athletics/story/1719701-oc-annual-now-includes-... The A's have also moved veteran minor league manager Steve Scarsone into a new position as a traveling instructor. Scarsone has managed in the A's system for the past eight seasons and spent the past three seasons as the manager of the A's Triple-A affiliate. He took the Nashville Sounds to the Pacific Coast League post-season in 2016, leading them to a PCL-best 83-59 record. 

Taking over for Scarsone in Nashville will be Ryan Christenson, who has led the Double-A Midland RockHounds to Texas League titles each of the past two seasons. Christenson, a former A's outfielder, joined the organization as a manager in 2013 and has reached the post-season in each of his four seasons at the helm of an affiliate. Christenson is currently managing the Mesa Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League, where his squad is one game out of first place with less than a week to go in the season.

Christenson will be joined in Nashville by the Sounds' 2016 assistant coaches Eric Martins (hitting) and Rick Rodriguez (pitching). Martins was a hitting coach for Christenson in 2015 in Double-A Midland. Brad LaRosa returns as the trainer for the Sounds, and Henry Torres joins the Nashville staff from Midland as the strength and conditioning coach.

The three-time defending Texas League champion RockHounds will have a new manager, as Fran Riordan joins the staff as the skipper from Low-A Beloit. Riordan spent two seasons managing the Snappers. He joined the A's organization in 2015 after a 14-year stint as a manager in the independent leagues. John Wasdin (pitching) and Brian McArn (hitting) return as the RockHounds' assistant coaches after strong seasons in 2016. Justin Whitehouse returns as the athletic trainer, while Matt Rutledge replaces Torres as the strength and conditioning coach.

The Ports will return nearly the same coaching staff for 2017. Rick Magnante will be the manager for the Ports for a third straight year. He will be joined once again by assistant coaches Steve Connelly (pitching) and Tommy Everidge (hitting), as well as trainer Sean DoranTravis Tims, who was the Ports' strength and conditioning coach last season, has been promoted to the position of system-wide rehab coordinator. A replacement for Tims in Stockton has yet to be determined.

Nate Brooks, who had served as the system-wide rehab coordinator before Tims, has been promoted to medical coordinator. A.J. Selliger takes over as the system-wide strength and conditioning coordinator.

The Beloit Snappers will welcome newcomer Scott Steinmann to the organization as the club's new manager. Steinmann joins the A's from the Mariners' organization, where he has been as both a player and a coach since 1996. He has 17 years of coaching experience in the Mariners' chain. In 2015, Steinmann was the manager of Low-A Clinton in the Midwest League. Veteran A's minor league coaches Don Schulze (pitching) and Juan Dilone (hitting) join Steinmann in Beloit. Both held those positions for the Snappers last year, as well. Brian Thorson returns as athletic trainer and Omar Aguilar joins the club as the strength and conditioning coach.

In addition to continuing his role as minor league field coordinator, Nieckula returns as the manager of the short-season Vermont Lake Monsters. Carlos Chavez (pitching) and Lloyd Turner (hitting) return to the Lake Monsters' staff, as does athletic trainer Toshi NagaharaJ.D. Howell will be the new strength and conditioning coach.

In the Arizona Rookie League, the A's will return the same staff as 2016, with longtime A's minor league coach Webster Garrison returning as manager. Gabriel Ozuna returns as the pitching coach, Ruben Escalera as the hitting coach and Gabe Ortiz as a general assignment coach. Athletic trainer Chris Lessner and strength and conditioning coach Terence Brannic also return to the A's Rookie League club.

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