Cards Flip Top Minor League Pitching Coaches

We dig into the major changes in the pitching coach ranks as three St. Louis Cardinals minor league coaches move up for 2010 while three move down.

As was discussed in the earlier article, "Big Minor League Coaching Changes for Cards", five of the seven US-based St. Louis Cardinals minor league clubs are getting new pitching coaches for 2010. Here is a summary of the changes, which include a change with the Jupiter Complex Pitching Coordinator.

2010 pitching coach 2009
Memphis Derek Lilliquist Blaise Ilsley
Springfield Dennis Martinez Bryan Eversgerd
Palm Beach Bryan Eversgerd Dennis Martinez
Quad Cities Tim Leveque Arthur Adams
Batavia Arthur Adams Tim Leveque
GCL Henderson Lugo Dernier Orozco
VSL Dernier Orozco Henderson Lugo
Jupiter coord. Blaise Ilsley Derek Lilliquist

Cardinals VP Jeff Luhnow characterizes these moves as normal staff rotation, but it is impossible to ignore Dave Duncan's well-publicized remarks critical of the organization's minor league pitching instruction from this past summer.

Now, we will look into the backgrounds of the rising and falling fortunes of the US-based coaches, starting with Triple-A Memphis.

Memphis: rising, Derek Lilliquist

Lilliquist will be starting his ninth year with the Cardinals. He served as the Jupiter Complex Pitching Coordinator the past two seasons, managing the rehab progress of injured organizational hurlers.

Prior to that, Lilliquist spent four seasons as the pitching coach for A-Advanced Palm Beach after spending one year each in the role at Peoria (2003) and Johnson City (2002). Before joining the Cardinals, he was a high school baseball coach at Vero Beach (FL) High School from 1998 to 2001.

The former left-handed starter-turned-reliever spent five-plus years in the Major Leagues, recording 25 victories. In 1992 while with Cleveland, Lilliquist made 71 appearances, going 5-3 with a 1.75 ERA. The next season with the Indians, he earned ten saves while recording a 2.25 ERA. The 44-year-old was drafted in 1987 by the Atlanta Braves in the first round (sixth pick overall) and spent time in the majors with Atlanta, San Diego, Cleveland, Boston and Cincinnati, ending his playing career in 1997.

Springfield: rising, Dennis Martinez

In 2009, Martinez completed his second season as pitching coach with Palm Beach. Now starting his fourth year with the Cardinals organization, he served in the same capacity for the Gulf Coast League Cardinals in 2007.

Martinez logged a 23-year career as a pitcher from 1976-1998 for Baltimore, Montreal, Cleveland, Seattle and Atlanta. Nicknamed "El Presidente," Martinez totaled 245 career wins, still tops among Latino pitchers. He appeared in four All-Star games while posting a 3.70 ERA in 692 career games. On July 28, 1991 while pitching for Montreal at Dodger Stadium, Martinez tossed baseball's 13th perfect game, a 2-0 win.

Martinez, 55, also served as a special assistant in the Orioles organization. An icon in his native country of Nicaragua, Martinez has met with President Daniel Oretga and is involved with developing baseball in the Latin American country.

Palm Beach: falling, Bryan Eversgerd

Eversgerd recently completed his second season in Springfield. He was pitching coach at the Cardinals Midwest League Class A affiliate from 2004-2007 prior to joining Springfield's staff. In 2004, he began with Peoria after having been out of baseball for two years. His inaugural coaching season was in 2001 for the Cardinals as pitching coach at their Single-A Potomac affiliate.

Eversgerd, 41, began his Major League baseball career with the Cardinals, signing as a non-drafted free agent on June 14, 1989. He pitched a scoreless inning of relief in his Major League debut for the Cardinals on April 26, 1994, and picked up his first big-league win in his only Major League start on May 20, 1994, at Florida. The lefthander also pitched at the Major League level for Montreal and Texas before returning to St. Louis from 1998 to 2000.

Quad Cities: rising, Tim Leveque

In 2009, Leveque finished his second season as pitching coach in the Cardinals organization and first at Batavia. He was pitching coach at Johnson City in 2008. Leveque was hired by the Cardinals in March of 2006 as a pitching specialist that coordinated and studied video of draft-eligible pitchers.

Leveque attended and played baseball at Crespi High School in Encino, Calif., the same school that produced former Cardinals pitcher Jeff Suppan. He was drafted out of high school by the Detroit Tigers but did not sign, instead choosing to attend and play college baseball at the University of Michigan.

Batavia: falling, Arthur "Ace" Adams

Adams was hired as pitching coach at Quad Cities almost two years ago in January 2008 and just completed his second season with the River Bandits. Prior to joining the Cardinals organization, he was a pitching coach in the Boston Red Sox system, with his last assignment for the Eastern League champion Portland Sea Dogs in 2006. He spent 2005 as the Wilmington Blue Rocks pitching coach and held the same role for the Augusta Greenjackets in 2004.

Adams coached the Florida Marlins Single-A Jupiter affiliate in 2002, when his pitching staff helped lead the team to an 81-57 record while compiling an overall 3.41 ERA. He also coached the Expos Florida State League entry in Jupiter from 1999-2001 and was the pitching coach for the Expos' short-season Vermont club in 1998.

Adams entered the professional coaching ranks in 1997 with the Montreal Expos organization after 13 years as a college coach at Michigan (1989-96), Brandeis (1986-89), Harvard (1985) and Dartmouth (1984). The Wellesley, Massachusetts native was a traveling batting practice pitcher for the Red Sox from 1984-85.

Jupiter Complex Pitching Coordinator: falling, Blaise Ilsley

Ilsley was promoted to pitching coach at Memphis for the 2008 and 2009 seasons after working the previous six as the pitching coach for the Cardinals Double-A affiliate.

Ilsley was honored by the Cardinals following the 2004 season with the George Kissell Award, presented annually by the Cardinals for excellence in player development. He had joined the Cardinals from the Baltimore Orioles' organization after serving as the pitching coach for Bluefield in the Appalachian League (R) during the 2001 campaign. Ilsley began his coaching career in 1999 with Winnipeg of the independent Northern League and moved on to coach at Sioux Falls in 2000.

He spent 14 seasons playing in the minor leagues with Houston, St. Louis, Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia, Cleveland and Montreal before concluding his playing career in 1998. He appeared in 10 games in the Major Leagues with the Chicago Cubs in 1994. Ilsley was the fourth round draft pick of the Houston Astros in 1985.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog.

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