On Friday afternoon, Francisco Morales suddenly announced his resignation as the manager of the Lake Elsinore Storm. Monday, the San Diego Padres announced that Fort Wayne TinCaps hitting coach Lance Burkhart will take the reins of their High-A affiliate.
Burkhart served on Morales' staff for the TinCaps in 2015, working with many of the players who make up the core of the 2016 Storm roster. Last season was Burkhart's first in the organization after he managed the independent Atlantic League Southern Maryland Blue Crabs. His brother, Morgan, has been a coach in the Padres organization since 2013, and currently serves as the hitting coach in El Paso.
Morales's resignation appears to be related to an incident that happened during the Padres' instruction program in the Dominican Republic in January. That event led to Morales being suspended for the first road trip of the 2016 season. During that time, he managed pregame activities, but was not in uniform during games. Padres' roving instructor Tony Tarasco led the team from the dugout during that trip, as he did over the past week following Morales leaving the organization last week.
The Padres' front office has indicated that the Storm's press release will be the only formal comment on the situation.
Burkhart's familiarity with the Storm roster and the organization's increased focus on consistency of instruction across the system should reduce the impact of the transition.
The Storm currently sport a 19-25 record. By my informal tally, they were 12-19 with Morales in the dugout this season. He led the TinCaps to a 77-61 record in 2015.
NOTE: This story was updated to reflect that Morales left the team prior to last week's road series even though his resignation was first noted on Friday.