Cardinals Shuffle Minor League Staffs in 2015

Major changes in the St. Louis Cardinals player development ranks from 2014 to 2015 include one manager literally coming home.

For 2015, Oliver Marmol returns as a manager to where it ended for him as a player.

Just 23 years of age in May 2010, the playing career of the infielder with a solid glove but weak bat reached its end at the A-Advanced level when the St. Louis Cardinals released their sixth-round pick from the 2007 draft.

Marmol immediately moved into coaching and six and a half years later, the Jupiter, Florida resident has come home - literally. He is the new manager of the same club with which he last took the field as a player, the Palm Beach Cardinals of the Florida State League.

The 2013 George Kissell Award winner for player development excellence and skipper of the 2014 New York-Penn League champion State College Spikes joins five other managers in the system taking on new assignments for next season, including the promotion of one first-time skipper.

The Cardinals organization, under Director of Player Development Gary LaRocque, announced its entire roster of player development assignments for 2015 on Wednesday.

Seven of the eight levels will welcome new pitching coaches, most re-assignments. Half of the hitting coaches will return to the same jobs with three in-house shifts. One new outside hire joins each of the pitching and hitting staff ranks.

This marks a major change from last year, when continuity was the word for the Cardinals minor league staffs. All eight sets of managers, pitching coaches and hitting coaches from Memphis through the Dominican Summer League from 2013 returned for 2014, with the only difference being three mid-level managers switching chairs.

This time around, it is different.

Managers

It begins at the top, where after 10 years of managing Palm Beach, then Springfield and finally Memphis the last three seasons, Ron “Pop” Warner is moving into a new role as a roving infield instructor.

Shildt

Taking over the big chair with the Triple-A Redbirds is Mike Shildt, who has led three of his five clubs as a manager to league titles. That includes the 2012 Texas League champion Springfield Cardinals. The remainder of the Memphis staff returns for the third consecutive season.

Shildt’s replacement at Double-A is Dann Bilardello. The former Major League catcher makes his third step up in three seasons, having most recently managed Palm Beach. As noted above, Marmol comes in for Bilardello in the Florida State League.

To complete the full-season clubs, Joe Kruzel returns as manager of Peoria of the Class-A Midwest League.

Replacing Marmol at short-season State College is veteran manager Johnny Rodriguez. Having led the Appalachian League champions from Johnson City in 2014, he also has managed at full-season Class-A with Palm Beach and Quad Cities.

Swauger

In his second season coaching, former Cardinals minor league outfielder Chris Swauger has been promoted to Johnson City manager from hitting coach. In the process, he becomes the youngest skipper in the system at age 28, 40 days younger than Marmol.

The other returning managers are the Gulf Coast League’s seven-year leader Steve Turco - The Cardinal Nation Manager of the Year for 2014 - and Fray Peniche, back for a fifth season in the Dominican Summer League.

Pitching Coaches

There has been a major change in level assignments among the pitching coaches. Five are moving to a new level, plus one is new to the system with one opening.

Bryan Eversgerd at Memphis is the lone incumbent from the 2014 season with the same assignment.

Simontacchi

Coming off his stint coaching in the Arizona Fall League, former Cardinals pitcher Jason Simontacchi is moving up from Peoria to Springfield for 2015. Randy Niemann shifts from Springfield to Palm Beach, Dernier Orozco from State College to Peoria and Darwin Marrero from the GCL to State College.

2014 Johnson City pitching coach Paul Davis, who also serves as coordinator of pitching analytics, has added rehab management responsibilities in Jupiter. Bill Villanueva moves up from the Dominican Summer League to replace him at Johnson City.

Cale Johnson, a Cardinals minor league pitcher from 2009-12, has been hired as the pitching coach at the Gulf Coast League level where he pitched for Turco in 2009. Villanueva’s DSL replacement is to be named.

As was previously announced by Houston, the Astros hired away 2014 Palm Beach pitching coach “Ace” Adams. The Massachusetts native will reportedly take over the reins of that organization’s Triple-A staff for 2015.

Hitting Coaches

Just as most of the pitching coaches are changing addresses, the majority of the 2014 hitting coaches are staying put for 2015.

The only new assignments are Ramon Ortiz and Roger LaFrancois swapping affiliates - Ortiz to Palm Beach and LaFrancois to State College. Roberto Espinoza has been assigned to the GCL Cardinals after serving as the bullpen assistant in St. Louis last season.

As TCN members learned first in October, the Cardinals have hired George Greer in a new position, minor league offensive strategist. The former Mets Triple-A hitting coach will also serve as the hitting coach at Johnson City. It seems a solid move putting the veteran in the dugout with first-time manager Swauger.

Trainers

On the training staff, Mike Petrarca and Brent Neuharth switch positions with Petrarca going to Johnson City and Neuharth at Peoria. The remainder of the training staff returns to their 2014 positions.

St. Louis Cardinals Minor League Staffs

The following table denotes 2015 as well as 2014 assignments, with changes color-coded.

Club Manager Pitching Coach Hitting Coach Trainer
Memphis (AAA)        
2015 Mike Shildt Bryan Eversgerd Mark Budaska Jeremy Clipperton
2014 Ron "Pop" Warner Bryan Eversgerd Mark Budaska Jeremy Clipperton
         
Springfield (AA)        
2015 Dann Bilardello Jason Simontacchi Erik Pappas Scott Ensell
2014 Mike Shildt Randy Niemann Erik Pappas Scott Ensell
         
Palm Beach (A)        
2015 Oliver Marmol Randy Niemann Ramon Ortiz Keith Joynt
2014 Dann Bilardello "Ace" Adams Roger LaFrancois Keith Joynt
         
Peoria (A)        
2015 Joe Kruzel Dernier Orozco Jobel Jimenez Brent Neuharth
2014 Joe Kruzel Jason Simontacchi Jobel Jimenez Mike Petrarca
         
State College (A)        
2015 Johnny Rodriguez Darwin Marrero Roger LaFrancois Dan Martin
2014 Oliver Marmol Dernier Orozco Ramon Ortiz Dan Martin
         
Johnson City (R)        
2015 Chris Swauger Bill Villanueva George Greer Mike Petrarca
2014 Johnny Rodriguez Paul Davis Chris Swauger Brent Neuharth
         
GCL Cards (R)        
2015 Steve Turco Cale Johnson Roberto Espinoza Tony Reyes
2014 Steve Turco Darwin Marrero Jobel Jimenez Tony Reyes
         
DSL Cards (R)        
2015 Fray Peniche TBA Erick Almonte TBA
      John Matos (inf)  
2014 Fray Peniche Bill Villanueva Erick Almonte Amaury Rivera
      John Matos (inf)  
New to org        
Moved level        
Left Cardinals        

Key Cross-Organization Roles

The overall field coordinator for the system, Mark DeJohn, as well as the pitching and hitting coordinators, Tim Leveque and Derrick May, return again for 2015.

Field Coordinator – Mark DeJohn
Pitching Coordinator – Tim Leveque
Hitting Coordinator – Derrick May
Roving Infield Coordinator – Ron “Pop” Warner
Latin America Coordinator – Luis Aguayo
Minor League Pitching Coach/Coordinator of Pitching Analytics/Rehab – Paul Davis
Minor League Offensive Strategist/Johnson City Hitting Coach – George Greer
Strength & Conditioning Coordinator – Rachel Balkovec
Senior Medical Advisor – Barry Weinberg
Special Assistant to Player Development – Gaylen Pitts

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Get insight on breaking Cardinals news, especially as related to the minor leagues. For example, members of our insider message board have been discussing a number of these 2015 coaching changes across the organization for the past six weeks.



Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnationblog.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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