As we edge closer to the start of the minor league season, we got our latest big announcement on Friday when the Marlins announced their minor league staff for all teams as well as the minor league coordinators that will belong to the big league roster. With the announcement, we learned that Don Mattingly won’t be the only new face on the top step donning Marlins’ affiliated gear. With many of the organization’s head coaches and staff from last season moving on to bigger and better things, three of Miami’s four minor league squads will have a new staff at the helm in 2016. Here’s a closer look at the men who will be guiding the future of the Fish in 2016.
Firstly in New Orleans, the Zephyrs wave goodbye to Andy Haines as he packs his bags for Chicago and the hitting coordinator gig with the big league Cubs. For Marlins’ ownership, it was undoubtedly a heartfelt goodbye to Haines who spent eight faithful years with the organization, compiling a 517-495 record and bringing the club a Sally League title in 2011, an Arizona Fall League title in 2014, and coming within one W of a Florida State League title with the Hammerheads in 2013. During his long tenure with the Fish, Haines had a hand in coaching, mentoring and grooming some of the team’s best commodities such as Giancarlo Stanton, Jose Fernandez, Christian Yelich, and more recently Justin Bour and Justin Nicolino among many others. Those who played for Haines, including reliever Craig Stem, have nothing but praise and respect for their former skipper.
“He’s a great guy,” Stem says. “Even when we weren’t playing so well he was always positive and reminded us of our individual and team goals. Every day was an opportunity to improve on the day before. That’s what you want in a manager. Hainsey will be sorely missed.”
With Haines’ departure, the Zephyrs’ new ownership headed by Lou Schwechheimer, had their first impression on the line when they faced the challenge of appointing a new manager. They completed that challenge successfully by selecting Arnie Beyeler to head the team in 2016. Beyeler, 51, is an experienced and accomplished minor league manager. He dons an 802-756 all-time record all of which he spent in the Red Sox’s organization. Before being promoted to the Red Sox’s staff in 2013 where he helped lead the team to a World Series title, Beyeler enjoyed two years’ chock full of success at the AAA level. In 2011, he lead the PawSox to a division title and in 2012, he managed the first Pawtucket team to win an international title in nearly 30 years. At the AAA level, Beyler owns a sparkling 159-128 (.805) lifetime record.
There is no doubt that the veteran Beyeler will be up to the task of leading the Zephyrs to success. As Stem points out that — although change is a way of life as a minor leaguer — it is up to the players to respond to a new style of leadership.
“Welcoming a new manager is something that is common in the minor league world. Most years you will be playing for someone different whether that be due to a coaching change, promotion, demotion, trade, or otherwise,” he says. “Adjustments always have to be made, but in the end the goal is always the same and a manager’s coaching style can often dictate the direction a team goes. The ability to move on and perform with a new manager at the helm will be a test for all the players to see if they can perform with the same intensity and quality regardless of who is leading them to do so.”
Joining Beyeler’s staff will be pitching coach Derek Bothelo and hitting coach Paul Philips.
Bothelo comes to the Zephyrs via being promoted from AA Jacksonville. He is a South Florida native who grew up in Boca Raton before attending Miami-Dade South Community College. He joined the majors after being drafted by the Phillies for the second time in 1976. He played 12 professional seasons, holding down a career 4.11 minor league ERA and topping 1,000 career strikeouts. Despite spending a year out of baseball at one point, Bothelo realized his childhood dream in 1982 by making it to the majors with the Royals. After retiring in 1986, Bothelo began his coaching career in 1990. The bulk of his career was been spent with the Reds for whom he served 12 seasons. He also spent six years in the Braves’ system where he helped groomed the likes of Peter Moylan, Craig Kimbrel and Kris Medlen. He has over 35 years coaching experience under his belt.
Phillips, 38, is a 1998 draftee who played for six years between the Royals, White Sox, Rockies, Indians and Brewers. He hit .270/.317/.367 over 13 minor league seasons and cracked the majors seven times, including his first occasion in 2004, where he hit .262/.298/.357. In 2012, Phillips ended his playing career and began coaching at Lipscomb University. During his tenure there, he helped Lipscomb enjoy it’s best three-year run in school history, recording 97 wins. Most recently, last season, he helped the Bisons to a 39-20 record, a tournament championship and a national playoff berth by way of a collective .275/.361/.406 slash line.
The first of just two head coaches returning to their old post is Dave Berg who will begin his second season as manager of the Jacksonville Suns. A former utility infielder who got his major league debut with the Marlins after attending the University of Miami, Berg began his coaching career in 2009. He spent several years as an infield instructor before managing at Greensboro. In his first season as skipper, Berg led the Grasshoppers to an 80-59 record and a spot in the Sally League championship series. He returned to the same post in 2014 and enjoyed similar success going 87-53, giving the Hoppers a share of the first in their division. He owns a 224-189 (.843) career managerial record. Last season, Berg managed a pluthera of young talent, some of which made the jump to the majors all the way from AA including Kyle Barraclough, Kendry Flores and Bryan Ellington.
Reliever Tyler Bremer who spent last season with Jacksonville attributes Berg’s managerial success to his overseer-type style which keeps the game fun and allows his players to find their own way, provided, of course, they are going at 100% at all times.
“He brings a laid back atmosphere but with the expectation the team is going to play the right way,” Bremer says. “With it being a more advanced older league I think his coaching style gives the players the opportunity to go out and play their game without someone down their throat. Though if he feels like you aren’t playing hard or not going about things the right way he’s not afraid to address it, and will do so quickly. I think Berg is perfect for Jacksonville.”
The Marlins’ organization may have lost a great coach in Haines to the Cubs, but they also gained a great baseball mind from the Cubs in the man who will serve as the Suns’ pitching coach this year. For the past two seasons, Storm Davis served in the same capacity for the Tennessee Smokies, the Cubs’ AA affiliate, leading that staff to two sub-4 ERA seasons. Preceding that, Davis managed a single A Daytona Cubs staff that held down a 75-51 record and a 3.64 ERA en route to a Florida State League championship. Before beginning his coaching career in 2008, all Davis managed to do was hold down a career 4.02 ERA and a 113-96 career record over 13 major league seasons. He was a positive WAR player in 12 of those seasons and a 1+ WAR player in eight of them. With great stamina and a great physical make-up, Davis ate innings like no other, piling up nearly 2,000 (1780.2, seasonal average of 178), an ability which earned him the moniker “the perfect fifth starter” by sabermetricans. Davis won two World Series titles, one in 1983 with the Orioles and one in 1989 with the A’s. His best season occurred in 1984 in Baltimore when he posted a 14-9 record and a 3.12 ERA over a career-high 225 innings.
Bremer, who spent time with the Cubs organization, knows the respect Davis commands and deserves and is eager to reap the benefits of his expertise.
“Storm’s pedigree brings an instant sense of respect and knowledge,” Bremer says. “He has been where we as players want to go, and has had success there too which brings a lot of excitement knowing we have him for a whole season to work with. I know from my time with the Cubs players spoke very highly of him so I’m eager to get on a mound with him and see what we can accomplish.”
Hitting and third base coach Rich Arena rejoins the Suns in 2016. Prior to joining Jacksonville last year, he served as hitting instructor for the 2012 Jamestown Jammers, the Marlins’ former single A short season affiliate. Close knit relationships run deep with Arena and many of the Suns’ position players as many former Jammers became Suns at the same time as Arena and remain so with him this year.
In 2016, the Hammerheads will be at the Ready. A well-deserved promotion to the big league coaching staff for Brian Schneider paved the way for fellow former infielder Randy Ready to take the helm in Jupiter. A sixth round draftee in 1980 by the Brewers, Ready flew through the minors in just three short years, jumping a level with each passing season, attributing to a robust .326/.445/.509 career minor league slash line, before cracking the majors in 1983. He spent three seasons coming off the bench for the Brewers before joining the Padres in 1987 where he enjoyed his best season as a professional, hitting .309/.423/.520 and piling up a 5.8 WAR as Jack McKeon’s full time second baseman. A pesky hitter with a great eye and a knack for making contact, Ready ended a 13 year career with a .359 OBP by way of a 326/276 BB/K. That kind of skillset and expertise of the strike zone will hugely benefit a Hammerheads team that OBP’d a Florida State League low .296 last season. After his playing career ended in 1997, Ready returned to minor league baseball in 2002 where his success at that level continued immediately. As manager of the single A short season Oneonta Tigers, he led a roster that included the likes of Curtis Granderson to a 47-27 record and a division title, accomplishments that earned him the NYPL’s Manager of the Year award and a promotion to single A Fort Wayne in 2004. While grooming the likes of Chase Headley, Jose Lobaton, Will Veneble, Joakim Soria, and Wade LeBlanc, Ready led the Wizards to two winning seasons. In 2007, Ready made the jump to AA San Antonio. Headley, LeBlanc, Venbeble and others all made the jump with him and once again benefited from Ready’s managerial prowess. The team hit a very Ready-like .256/.339/.401 and brought the Missions a Texas League title in the team’s inaugural year as a Padres affiliate. 2008 saw Ready promoted to AAA Portland where he coached a team that walked a league high 607 times to a 70-74 record. Ready was in the running to become the next Astros head coach in 2009 but Houston selected Brad Mills. Ready nonetheless made the majors for the first time as a coach that year, joining the Padres. He spent two seasons with the Friars, coaching them to a collective .242 BA over three years. He joins the Marlins with a career managerial record of 398-376 over six full minor league seasons.
Ready’s staff will be filled out by pitching coach Jeremy Powell and hitting coach Frank Moore.
Powell joins the Hammerheads via a promotion from single A Greensboro. For the past two years, Powell served in the same capacity for the single A Grasshoppers leading them to 1010/488 K/BB and 7.5 K/9 last year. In 2014, Powell coached a staff that led the Sally League in strikeouts (1146), least walks (351) and uniformly, K/BB (3.27). That staff was also second in ERA (3.49) and third in W/L% (.621). Prior to his tenure with Greensboro, Powell spent two seasons with the Gulf Coast League Marlins, allowing them to hold down a 3.41 ERA and a 448/161 K/BB in 2014, a K/BB ratio which ranked third in the league. In his coaching debut in 2012, Powell led the GCL Marlins to a collective 3.27 ERA which ranked fifth in the league. Prior to his coaching career, Powell was a 1994 draftee out of high school. He played with Montreal’s GCL team that year, going 2-2 with a 2.93 ERA for a staff that led the league in WHIP, was second in strikeouts, and fourth in both ERA and win percentage. After spending 1995 in Vermont with the Expos’ low A short season affiliate, Powell spent all of ’96 with single A Delmarva, marking his first career full season. He responded to the increase in playing time very well, going 12-9 with a minuscule 3.03 ERA and a 109/66 K/BB over 157.2 IP. His contributions helped propel the ’96 Shorebirds, a team which also included another current Marlins’ coach, Brian Schneider as well as former Marlins pitcher Javier Vazquez, to an 83-59 record and a Sally League North division title. Another promotion greeted him in 1997 as he moved to high A West Palm Beach and likewise, so did an increase in production. That year, a 21-year-old Powell went 9-10 with a 3.02 ERA and a 121/62 K/BB, ranking him the fifth best starting pitcher in the Florida State League (minimum of 130 IP). In 1998, Powell got two promotions. The first came to start the year when he joined the AA Harrisburg Senators. After going 9-7 with an even 3.00 ERA with a 77/37 K/BB and a 1.16 WHIP, making him the team’s ace, Powell had impressed the Expos enough to skip AAA and crack the majors for the first time at the All-Star break. His MLB debut came on July 23, 1998 against the Cubs, a game in which he made a quality start (6 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 K, 1 BB). In 1999, Powell returned to the minors with the AAA Ottawa Lynx. In his first 91 IP that year, he once again aced a staff, holding down a sub-3 ERA (2.97) via a 72-37 K/BB. He was once agin promoted to the majors at the midway point of the season. On August 9th of that season, Powell enjoyed his best start in the MLB, going eight shutout innings and earning the win. Following an off season in 2000 in which he struggled in both the minors and majors, Powell made the move to Japan in 2001 where he enjoyed a decorated Nippon Proffessional Baseball career. In eight seasons with the Osaka Kinetsu Buffaloes, Orix Buffaloes, Yomiuri Giants, and Fukoka Softbank Hawks, Powell went 69-65 with a 3.97 ERA, an 858/334 K/BB (2.65%), and a 1.3 WHIP. He contributed to league title winning teams in 2001 and 2008. He was his team’s ace during a 14-12, 3.51, 160/55 K/BB 2005 season and his team’s second best hurler (only to Koji Uehara) in a 10-10, 3.32 ERA, 131/31 K/BB 2006 season. For his career, Powell boasts a 65-69, 3.72 ERA, 2.02 K/BB line in the minors and a 69-65, 3.97 ERA, 2.65 K/BB in Japan. His expertise of several different countries’ brands of baseball as well as his experience as a coach last year will be a welcome fit for the Hammerheads staff which looks to improve upon the 67-73, 3.08 ERA, 2.30 K/BB line they set last season.
Frank Moore rejoins the Hammerheads as hitting coach, a position which he held in 2011. He also spent parts of two seasons with the Sharks as a career minor league utility player. Drafted out of high school in 1996 by the Pirates but did not begin his professional career until being drafted again by the Devil Rays in 1998. From 1999 until 2002, Moore made jumps in level with each passing season by hitting .304/.349/.392 in ’99, .263/.300/.363 in 2000, .307/.346/.430 in 2001 (ranking in California League’s top 20), and .281/.342/.350 in ’02. He cracked AAA in ’03 and ’04 before joining the Marlins organization in 2005 where he spent time with Jupiter and then AA affiliate Carolina and AAA affiliate Albuquerque before retiring in 2009. A pesky slap singles type bat, Moore’s career MiLB line reads .276/.328/.380 over 10 seasons. His expertise at getting on base will be welcome on a Hammerheads squad that managed just a .296 OBP last season. Following his playing career, Moore stayed with the Marlins’ organization, serving as Jamestown’s hitting coach for the 2009 and 2010 seasons. Those year’s Jammers teams hit a collective .246 and OBP’d .331.From 2012-15, Moore was the Grasshoppers’ hitting coach. In ’12, the Hoppers were the Sally League’s second best hitting team with a .272/.345/.398 line which helped earn them a spot in the league’s championship final. In 2014, in true Frank Moore fashion, Greensboro were OBP gods, getting on base at a league high .351 clip. Their collective line (.285/.351/.407) was once again second best in the Sally League. In his three career as the Hoppers hitting coach, Moore led them to a collective .262 BA and .336 OBP
The second of two returning head coaches is Kevin “Smoke” Randel who will begin his second season as the Grasshoppers’ head coach. Randel’s is a name that should be familiar to Marlins fans as he was drafted by the Fish in 2002. His third time being drafted, Randel actually signed this time and became a part of the Marlins’ organization. As a career minor league utility infielder, Randel hit very well, compiling a .267/.374/.439 career line. In his day, he had one of the best eyes in the organization with his career-low OBP bottoming out at .331 (in his first full year as a pro) and his second worst .371. However, Randel almost inexplicably only spent seven games above the AA level. After retiring in 2009, Randel began his coaching career in 2010 as the Grasshoppers’ hitting coach. Over two seasons while helping groom the likes of Christian Yelich, JT Realmuto and Mark Canha, he coached the Hoppers to a seasonal average .283 BA and .319 OBP. Their 2011 .426 SLG ranked second in the league and their .269 BA ranked third, aiding them in their eventual league championship win. After that season, Randel served as hitting coach to the AA Jacksonville Suns, a team which hit .253/.341/.387. The .341 team OBP ranked third in the Southern League. Randel’s ability to get on base aided the Suns greatly that season. Their 569 walks that year were the most in the league.
Pitcher Sam Alvis, who threw for Randel last year, says that, like his fellow manager Dave Berg, Randel keeps the game loose and fun as long as he knows his players are giving it their all.
“Smoke is a great mananger and I really enjoy playing under him,” Alvis says. “He’s very energetic and enjoys having a good time as long as everyone is doing their job. I like how he helps develop us in our own way. He’s very open and easy to talk to about anything. We are lucky to have him.”
Randel’s staff will be rounded out by pitching coach Brendan Sagara and hitting coach Rigoberto Silverio. Both Sagara and Silverio served on short season Batavia’s squad in the same capacity last season. That Muckdogs team, by way of Silverio’s leadership, hit .252/.320/.347 and, courtesy of Sagara, held down an even 4.00 ERA and a 2.20 K/BB.
Silverio is no stranger to the Marlins’ organization. 2016 marks his eighth year with the Fish as a coach and his thirteenth altogether (he spent five seasons in the Marlins’ minor league ranks, playing as an infielder). From 2012-2013, Silverio served as hitting coach for the Jupiter Hammerheads, teams which held the likes of Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna, and Mark Canha. He led those Hammerheads teams to a collective .255/.327/.357 line. In 2012, Silverio helped the Hammerheads to the Florida State League finals. That year, the team’s .336 OBP led the league and their .265 BA ranked second. Rigoberto got his start as a coach in single A short season Jamestown where he helped the Jammers to a .252/.321/.356 line over three seasons (2009-2011). His 2010 Jammers team had the second best record in the league (43-32), ranked third in BA (.264) third in slugging (.400), and third in homers (45). Before his coaching career, Silverio spent another five years with the Marlins as a career minor leaguer, playing for many of the same teams he would go on to coach. Signed as a free agent in 2005, an 18-year-old Silverio hit .302/.374/.388 as a GCL Marlin, making him the third best BA on that team. He also ranked third in walks (15). Silverio then spent 2006-2007 between the Jammers and Hammerheads before ending his professional playing career. He is a lifetime .256/.326/.309 hitter.
Sagara also joins the Grasshoppers via a promotion from Batavia. Sagara spent four seasons with the Muckdogs, coaching them to ERAs of 4.00, 3.87, 3.42 and 3.08, which ranked the Muckdogs fourth in 2012. His best year as a coach came in 2007 when he helped coach the unafillated Windy City Thunderbolts, which were coached by another current Marlins’ coach, Andy Haines, to a 68-28 record which included a .708 win percentage and a 3.63 ERA, both league bests. Their 1.301 WHIP also ranked best in the league. Their 2.12 K/BB ranked second in the league.
The Batavia Muckdogs’ staff will be covered as part of their season preview later this year when the single A short season begins.