Jan 14, 2022 7:05 PM

Royals' minor league coaching staffs announced

Posted Jan 14, 2022 7:05 PM

KANSAS CITY, Mo.—The Kansas City Royals today announced their minor league coaching staffs.

OMAHA STORM CHASERS

Scott Thorman will be the manager of the Omaha Storm Chasers. Thorman has led three different Royals affiliates to championships in the last three minor league seasons, including a Double-A Central championship with Northwest Arkansas in 2021, a Carolina League championship with Advanced-A Wilmington in 2019 and a South Atlantic League title with Class-A Lexington in 2018. He will be joined on the bench by pitching coach Dane Johnson, who was named to the position prior to the 2020 season, and hitting coach Brian Buchanan, who is entering his 13th season with the Royals and fifth in his current role. Tommy Shields is re-joining the organization as Omaha’s bench coach, and Ryan Powers is joining Thorman’s staff as the assistant hitting coach after working as the video intern at Quad Cities in 2021. James Stone is returning for his fourth season as Omaha’s certified athletic trainer, and Yannick Plante will return for his second season as the Storm Chasers’ strength and conditioning coach. Mike Brown will serve as the coordinator of clubhouse operations for the fourth consecutive season.

NORTHWEST ARKANSAS NATURALS

Chris Widger, who was named by Baseball America as the 2021 Manager of the Year, will manage the Naturals after leading the Quad Cities River Bandits to a High-A Central championship last season and the Burlington Royals to an Appalachian League finals appearance in 2019. He will be joined on the staff by pitching coach Derrick Lewis, who is in his third season in the organization and second in his current role, and by hitting coach Abraham Nunez, who is in his 11th season with the Royals and fourth in his current role. Christian Colón will re-join the Royals organization as Northwest Arkansas’ assistant hitting coach, after a 12-year playing career. Colon was the Royals’ first-round pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, and had the game-winning hit in the title-clinching Game 5 of the 2015 World Series. Mike Jirschele, in his 31st season with the Royals, will join Northwest Arkansas as the bench coach, after serving in the same role last season on Widger’s staff in the Quad Cities. Danny Accola is entering his seventh season with the organization and first as the certified athletic trainer with Northwest Arkansas, after serving in the same role with the Quad Cities in 2021. CJ Mikkelsen will return for his second season as the Naturals’ strength and conditioning coach, and Danny Helmer will return for his 24th season in the organization and second Northwest Arkansas’ coordinator of clubhouse operations.

QUAD CITIES RIVER BANDITS

Brooks Conrad will manage the Quad Cities River Bandits for his sixth season in the Royals organization, including years as manager at Columbia (2021), Lexington (2019-20) and Burlington (2018). His 2019 squad in Lexington won the South Atlantic League title. He’ll be joined on the bench by pitching coach Steve Luebber, who is entering his 17th season in the organization and fourth in his current role, and hitting coach Andy LaRoche, who is in his fifth season with the Royals and second in his current role. David Noworyta, in his first year in the organization, will join Conrad’s staff as assistant hitting coach. Brad Groleau is in his first season as the River Bandits’ certified athletic trainer and fourth year in the organization. Assistant coach Kevin Kuntz is new to the Quad Cities staff, after joining the coaching ranks with Surprise in 2021. He previously worked in the Royals front office from 2016-20 following a two-year playing career in the minors. Matt Resar is in his 10th season with the Royals and second as Quad Cities’ coordinator of clubhouse operations.

COLUMBIA FIREFLIES

Tony Peña Jr. will manage Columbia, after serving as a Major League coach last season. He will be joined on the bench by pitching coach John Habyan, who is entering his third season with the Royals after filling the same role in Surprise (2021) and Burlington (2020). Jesus Azuaje will return as Columbia’s hitting coach for his eighth season with the Royals and second in his current role. He’ll be joined by assistant hitting coach Chris Nelson, who is entering his fifth season in the organization and first in his current role. Glenn Hubbard will return for his second season as Columbia’s bench coach and 12th season in the organization. Nevan Dominguez will join Columbia for his first season as its certified athletic trainer, after serving in a similar role with Surprise from 2020-21 and at the Royals Dominican Academy from 2018-19. Christian Andreas is returning for his second season as Columbia’s coordinator of clubhouse operations.

SURPRISE ROYALS

Omar Ramirez enters his 14th season in the Royals organization and second as manager of Surprise. Carlos Martinez and Mark Davis will serve as co-pitching coaches. Martinez is in his 26th season with the Royals and was the pitching coach at Columbia last season. Davis is entering his 17th season with the organization and eighth straight with Surprise. Julio Pimentel will return for his fifth season with the Royals and fourth as Surprise’s rehab pitching coach. Ramon Castro is entering his fifth season with the organization and second as the Surprise hitting coach. He’ll be joined by assistant hitting coaches Miguel Bernard and Alex Liddi. Bernard is entering his 10th season in the organization, including eight with the Dominican Academy. Liddi is returning to the organization after two seasons as a minor league player in 2015 and 2018, and played three seasons in the Majors with Seattle from 2011-13. Andre David will be the Surprise bench coach in what will be his 24th season with the Royals. Matt Schmidt is in his first year with the Royals as an assistant coach. Joey Manana returns for his fourth year in the organization and second as the Surprise strength and conditioning coach. Kazuma Fukuzimi is joining the Surprise staff as the certified athletic trainer, after serving in a similar role at the Royals Dominican Academy from 2019-21. Todd Jansen will return for his fourth season as the coordinator of clubhouse operations in Surprise and 20th year in the organization.

DOMINICAN ROYALS

The Royals will field two teams in the Dominican Summer League again this season. Ramón Martínez and Sergio De Luna remain managers of the two squads. Martinez is entering his 16th season with the Dominican Royals and sixth as manager (also 2013, 2018-21). De Luna is entering his 11th season with the Dominican Royals and third as manager. Rafael Feliz and José Veras will return as pitching coaches. Feliz is in his fifth season with the Dominican Royals, and Veras is entering his third season in his current role. Wilson Betemit and Fernando Martínez will serve as the hitting coaches. Betemit is entering his fifth season in his current role, and Martinez is in his third season with the Royals but first as a hitting coach. He served as an outfield coach with the Dominican Royals in 2021. Onil Joseph and Quilvio Veras will be first-time bench coaches. Joseph is entering his 14th season with the Dominican Royals and served as an outfield coach in 2021. Veras was the bunting and base running coach for the Dominican Royals from 2018-21. Marcos Sierra will return for his fourth season as the strength and conditioning coach. The certified athletic trainer will be David Archer, who is entering his second season with the Dominican Royals. He’ll be joined by athletic trainers Alessandro Bertozzo, Martin Berroa and Manuel Plaza.

-KANSAS CITY ROYALS-