The 'Pigs will enter their inaugural season with a veteran coaching staff. Manager Dave Huppert will look to make 2008 his third championship season in a row as a Phillies minor league manager. Huppert piloted the 2006 Lakewood BlueClaws and the 2007 Clearwater Threshers who both won their respective leagues in those seasons. The 2008 season will be Huppert's 21st as a minor league coach and he also spent a season as the third base coach for the Washington Nationals in 2005, working with Nats manager Frank Robinson.
Greg Gross jumps from his duties as the Phillies Double-A hitting coach to handling those duties for Lehigh Valley and Rod Nichols moves from Ottawa to the Lehigh Valley to continue his tenure as the pitching coach for the Phillies top affiliate.
"We're very proud of the staff that we will be sending to the Lehigh Valley and feel they will do a tremendous job for our farm system," said Steve Noworyta, Philadelphia Phillies Director, Minor Leagues. "We wanted to find a manager experienced to take on the challenge. I have seen Dave grow in player development and he's the type of manager that can take players and make them believe; the type of manager to get the best out of them and get them ready for Philadelphia."
Huppert believes he's in the perfect spot to go for his third straight title. "I can't ask for a better situation. This is a brand new affiliate and I can't ask for a better ballpark and a better place to develop talent," said Huppert. "I have three goals for this team: first, that the team plays fundamentally sound baseball; second, that we win a division; third, that we win the International League. I put pressure on myself to win because the players put pressure on themselves to improve."
P.J. Forbes will manage the Reading Phillies for a third season and will welcome back pitching coach Tom Filer, who is marking his fourth season with Reading.
With Greg Gross heading for the Lehigh Valley, Frank Cacciatore takes over as the R-Phils hitting coach. Cacciatore managed the St. Lucie Mets last season and returns to the Eastern League where he managed Portland in 1999 and was the hitting coach for Harrisburg from 2002 through 2005.
Razor Shines joins the Phillies organization to manage at Clearwater in 2008. He'll be looking to guide the Threshers to a repeat as the Florida State League champions, which they won last season for the first time since 1993. Shines will be joined by pitching coach Steve Shrenk and hitting coach Kevin Jordan.
Steve Roadcap will reprise his role as the 'Claws manager for the second straight season. Roadcap reached a milestone last season when he collected his 900th win as a Minor League manager last August. This will be his third season with the Phillies, who he joined in 2005 as the manager of the Batavia MuckDogs of the New York - Penn League.
|The Lakewood coaching staff features Steve Roadcap (center), Greg Legg (left) and Dave Lundquist (right).|
Here's where the names get interesting. Dusty Wathan, 34, has decided to end his playing career and change his focus to managing. Wathan, who played for the Phillies organization at the Triple-A level last season decided to call it a career after 14 seasons. "I'm looking forward to turning the page in my career. I've always wanted the opportunity to manage and after 14 years of playing professionally I thought the time was right. I'm really looking forward to being a part of the Williamsport Crosscutters," said Wathan about his new opportunity.
Wathan will be joined by another rookie Minor League coach as Eric Valent takes over as the Crosscutters hitting coach. The 30 year old Valent played parts of five seasons for the Phillies, Reds and Mets after being a supplemental first round pick in the 2005 Draft. Bill Bliss returns for a second season as Williamsport's pitching coach.
Gulf Coast League Phillies
The GCL staff returns with Roly deArmas, Luis Melendez and Carlos Arroyo handling the coaching duties.
Many of the Minor League coordinators are returning to the Phillies for the 2008 system, including: Bill Dancy (field coordinator), Mike Compton (catching coordinator), Jerry Martin (outfield coordinator) and Gorman Heimueller (pitching coordinator). The new members of the Minor League staff are Sal Rende (hitting coordinator) and Doug Mansolino (infield coordinator). Rende takes over for Don Long, who followed former Ottawa manager John Russell to the Pittsburgh Pirates and will serve as their hitting coach at the Major League level.