The Atlanta Braves have announced their minor league coaching staffs for next season, with big news about a coach returning to the organization after a two-year stint with the Royals.
Guy Hansen, who was with the Braves for seven years before joining the Royals as their major league pitching coach two seasons ago, will return to the Braves to lead the pitchers in Triple-A Richmond. Hansen was Richmond's pitching coach for five seasons before leaving to take the big league job. He spent the 2006 season as an advisor to the Royals after being let go on the big league staff following the 2005 season.
"Coming back to the Braves, I feel like I've died and gone to heaven," Hansen said. "My whole family just feels so much better coming back. It was a two-year hiatus with an impossible gig. Just to come back to the Braves is a real blessing. I feel real fortunate."
Hansen will be joined by new Richmond Manager Dave Brundage, who managed last season in Tacoma, the Triple-A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners. Brundage spent twelve seasons as a manager or coach in the Mariners' organization, and he led the Rainiers to a 74-70 record last year. He's managed for nine years and has an overall record of 653-605.
"This was the best guy for this job," said Kurt Kemp, Atlanta's Farm Director. "He brings a lot of energy – just a Braves' type guy. Dave's a great addition."
Kemp said the organization looked for someone with experience at the upper levels of a farm system to replace Brian Snitker, who was promoted to become Atlanta's third base coach for next season.
"You look at people that have experience since you have so many different players at those levels," Kemp explained. "The personalities there come from a more varied background, so having someone with experience at that level is important. Dave's just the perfect guy for this position."
Leon Roberts will be the Braves' hitting coach in Richmond. Roberts was with the Braves as a minor league manager and coach from 1992-1998. He managed in Durham (Carolina League) in 1992 and 1993 and then in Macon (Sally League) in 1994. Roberts was the Braves' roving minor league hitting instructor in his other years with the team. In 1999 Roberts joined the Devil Rays as their major league hitting coach – a job he had for two years. He's spent the last six seasons as a hitting coach in the Reds' organization.
"We're excited to have Leon back on the hitting side with us," Kemp said. "He's very well thought of by the people in this organization. We're excited to have him back."
Phillip Wellman will replace Jeff Blauser as the Mississippi Braves' Manager. Wellman was Blauser's hitting coach last season and has spent the last two seasons in Double-A with the Braves. A former Braves' minor leaguer in the 1980s, Wellman re-joined the organization in 2004 and managed in Danville. Wellman has managed in the Southern League before, leading Chattanooga in 2003.
Derek Bothelo will be Wellman's pitching coach in Mississippi. Ironically, Bothelo was Wellman's pitching coach in Chattanooga a few years ago. Next season will be Bothelo's fifth season in the Braves' organization. He was in Richmond last season, Danville in 2005, and in the Gulf Coast League from 2003-2004. Bothelo had two short stints in the majors, with the Royals in 1982 and the Cubs in 1985.
And Franklin Stubbs will be the hitting coach in Mississippi. Stubbs spent the last two years in Myrtle Beach, and before that he was the Braves' minor league roving hitting instructor from 1999-2004. A former first baseman with the Dodgers, Astros, Brewers, and Tigers, Stubbs joined the Braves' organization in 1997 as a coach for the Danville Braves.
"They each do a great job," Kemp said of his AA staff. "Phil has a deep background in managing, so he gets an opportunity to manage again. We're confident in his abilities. Bo is a great fit for us to work with Phil. And Stubby has a great track record of working with our hitters. It's a very experienced group that will do a great job with those AA players."
Rocket Wheeler will be returning to Myrtle Beach to manage for a second straight season. Wheeler will be in his fifth year as a Braves' minor league manager. He spent three seasons (2003-2005) in Rome as the skipper before joining the Pelicans, who went 72-68 overall in 2006.
The popular Bruce Dal Canton will be heading back to the beach for his ninth season as pitching coach with the Pelicans. Dal Canton has been in the Braves' organization as a coach since 1982, serving as Atlanta's pitching coach from 1987-1990. Dal Canton spent twelve seasons as a major league pitcher with the Pirates, Royals, Braves, and White Sox.
Another veteran Braves minor league coach, Rick Albert, will be the Pelicans' hitting coach in 2007. Albert has been in the organization since 1972. He was a minor league player for several years before starting his coaching career with the Braves. Albert has managed and coached at every level of the minor leagues. He's been a very valuable member of the minor league system.
Randy Ingle will return to Rome for his second straight season as manager. Ingle led Rome to a 71-68 record and a first-half division title this past season. Ingle is yet another veteran in the Braves' family. He was an infielder in the system from 1979 through 1987, and then started his coaching career the next season. Ingle will be in his 16th season as a manager in the Braves' system next year.
Former big league pitcher Doug Henry becomes Rome's new pitching coach. Henry pitched for five big league clubs: Brewers, Mets, Astros, Giants, and Royals. Last year as the pitching coach in Danville Henry helped the pitchers there win the Appalachian League title. He worked with Bruce Dal Canton in Myrtle Beach in 2005.
And the ever-popular Bobby Moore returns to Rome for his fifth straight season as the hitting coach. After making it to the big leagues with Kansas City in 1991, Moore was an outfielder in the Braves' system from 1992-1996. He became a coach with Eugene in the Appy League in 1997. Moore worked in Danville (Carolina League) in 1998 and then in Greenville in 1999. Moore joined the Braves' Sally League affiliate in Macon in 2000 and has remained at that level ever since.
Paul Runge is headed back to Danville after winning the 2006 Appalachian League championship. Runge, a former Atlanta infielder from 1981-1988, is in his second stint as a Braves' minor league manager. He began his coaching career in 1992 and worked his way up to manage in Double-A Greenville in 2001.
Jim Czajkowski returns to Danville as pitching coach after spending the last two years in Rome. "Zak" spent three yeas as Danville's pitching coach before getting the call to the Sally League affiliate. Czajkowski was a 29th round pick by the Braves in the 1986 draft before being picked in the Rule V draft by the Pirates. Czajkowski pitched in five big league games with the Rockies in 1994.
Mel Roberts will begin his 11th season in the Braves' organization next spring and his third as Danville's hitting coach. Roberts is a veteran minor league coach, and he spent four seasons as the Phillies' first base coach before coming to the Braves in 1996.
Luis Ortiz is back for his third year as the manager in the Gulf Coast League. Ortiz led the GCL Braves to a 23-27 record in 2006. Ortiz will once again be joined by pitching coach Derrick Lewis and hitting instructor Sixto Lezcano. Lewis is a former Braves' pitching prospect that is now in his fourth season as a pitching coach. Lezcano has been a coach for eight years in the Braves' organization. He's a former major league outfielder with the Brewers, Cardinals, Padres, Phillies, and Pirates.
"I feel the groups all the way across the system are very solid," Kemp said. "We're very pleased with the coaching staffs for 2007."
Bill Shanks is the author of Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team, a look inside the Braves‘ traditional scouting and player development philosophies. He can also be heard regularly on the Braves Radio Network. Email Bill at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Braves announce minor league staffs for 2007
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