The Astros did something very unique today. They announced their minor league field staffs before the end of October. This information isn't usually released until January. I haven't had a chance to go through it with a fine-tooth comb quite yet, but here is the Astros Press Release given to you without comment. (I'll weigh in later with my observations when time allows.)
Club returns 45 staff members from the 2015 season
HOUSTON, TX — The Houston Astros announced today their minor league staff for the 2016 season. The Astros coordinators will be Paul Runge (field coordinator), Jeff Albert (hitting coordinator), Doug White (pitching coordinator), Mark Bailey(catching coordinator), Adam Everett (infield coordinator), Morgan Ensberg (mindset coach), Leon Roberts (roving outfield instructor), Josh Miller (complex coordinator-pitching), Brendan Verner (strength and conditioning coordinator) and Daniel Roberts (rehab coordinator).
The managers from the Astros top four minor league affiliates in 2015 will all return to their posts next season, as Tony DeFrancesco (Triple A Fresno), Rodney Linares (Double A Corpus Christi), Omar Lopez (Class A Advanced Lancaster) andJosh Bonifay (Class A Quad Cities) will be back for 2016. Lamarr Rogers, manager of the 2015 Appalachian League Champion Greeneville Astros, will move up to Class A Short Season Tri-City to be the club’s manager for the 2016 season. In the Rookie Level Gulf Coast League, Marty Malloy will return for his third consecutive season as manager of the GCL Astros.
The Astros are returning 45 staff members from the 2015 season. The club will announce the managers and coaches for the Dominican Summer League Astros clubs at a later date.
COORDINATORS AND ROVERS
Paul Runge returns for his sixth season as the Astros minor league field coordinator. Prior to joining the Astros in 2011, Runge compiled 14 years of minor league managerial experience in the Braves system. A veteran of eight Major League seasons as an infielder, Runge managed the Rookie Level Danville Braves to four first place finishes and two league titles prior to joining Houston.
Jeff Albert will enter his third season as Houston’s hitting coordinator after joining the organization in 2013 as roving hitting instructor. Prior to joining the Astros, Albert spent five seasons as a coach in the Cardinals minor league system. A graduate of Butler University, Albert played professionally in the independent leagues and also received his Master’s degree in Exercise Science at Louisiana Tech University.
Doug White has been promoted to pitching coordinator after spending the last two seasons as Houston’s roving pitching instructor. The 2016 season will be his fourth campaign with the Astros, as he joined the organization in 2013 as pitching coach for the New York-Penn League Champion Tri-City ValleyCats. Before joining the Astros, White spent five seasons as a pitching coach in the Cardinals minor league system.
Former Astros catcher and Major League bullpen coach Mark Bailey will enter his 18th year as a coach or instructor in the Astros organization, and his first as catching coordinator. Bailey spent the 2015 season as the club’s roving catching instructor, following two seasons as a developmental specialist with a focus on catching for Double A Corpus Christi.
Adam Everett will return to the Astros in 2016 as the organization’s infield coordinator. The former Houston shortstop of seven seasons has spent the last three years as the Astros infield instructor.
Morgan Ensberg is set to return to the organization for his first season as mindset coach, in what will be his fourth consecutive year working in Houston’s minor league system. In his newly created role, Ensberg will travel throughout the Astros system to help develop the mental skills of the Astros players while implementing organizational initiatives. The former eight-year Major League third baseman spent the last two seasons as the Astros minor league special assignment coach, which followed his professional coaching debut as an infield coach with Class A Advanced Lancaster in 2013.
After spending the last four seasons as the Astros hitting coach at the Triple A level, Leon Roberts will serve as the organization’s roving outfield instructor in 2016. Roberts played outfield in the Major Leagues for 11 seasons, and the 2016 season will be his 39th working in baseball as either a player, coach, manager or coordinator.
Josh Miller will enter a new role as complex coordinator (pitching) following three seasons as Greeneville’s pitching coach and two as a pro scout for the Astros. In his new role, Miller will oversee the Astros pitching programs at their complex in Kissimmee, Fla., which will include the extended Spring Training and rehab pitching programs.
Brendan Verner will serve as Houston’s strength and conditioning coordinator for the fourth consecutive season in 2016. Prior to joining the Astros in 2013, Verner spent six seasons working in the Cleveland, Pittsburgh and San Diego minor league systems, in addition to spending two seasons on Cleveland’s Major League staff as an assistant strength and conditioning coach.
Daniel Roberts will return to his role as rehab coordinator for the sixth season. Roberts is based out of the Astros Spring Training complex in Kissimmee, FL, where he assists injured and recovering Major and minor league players with the medical rehabilitation process. Prior to joining the Astros in 2011, Roberts served as an assistant athletic trainer at Charleston Southern University.
TRIPLE A FRESNO GRIZZLIES
After leading the Fresno Grizzlies to the Pacific Coast League and Triple A Championships in 2015, Tony DeFrancesco will return to the Astros organization for his sixth season as Houston’s manager at the Triple A level. Under DeFrancesco’s leadership, which began in 2011, the Astros Triple A clubs have gone 347-303 (.534) while posting a winning record in each of the last four seasons. Prior to joining the Astros, DeFrancesco spent seven seasons as manager at Triple A Sacramento in Oakland’s organization, where he guided the River Cats to six first-place finishes and three PCL titles.
After spending the last three seasons as the Astros minor league pitching coordinator, Dyar Miller will join the Grizzlies coaching staff as pitching coach for the 2016 season. The former Major Leaguer has spent each of the last 48 years working in professional baseball, including an 18-year stint as a coach in the Cardinals organization from 1995-2012. Ralph Dickensonwill also be a new addition to the Grizzlies coaching staff for 2016, as he will serve as hitting coach in what will be his fourth overall season with Houston. During his time with the Astros, Dickenson has been a roving hitting instructor (2015), assistant Major League hitting coach (2014) and hitting coordinator (2013). Bryan Baca will enter his second season as athletic trainer for the Grizzlies and his 10th year overall with the organization, while Trey Wiedman will serve as Fresno’s strength and conditioning coach for the second straight year in what will be his fifth campaign with the Astros.
DOUBLE A CORPUS CHRISTI HOOKS
The 2015 Texas League Manager of the Year, Rodney Linares, will return to Corpus Christi for his second season as the Hooks manager in 2016. Linares, who will enter his 19th year with the Astros, guided Corpus Christi to the most wins in all of minor league baseball in 2015 (89), helping the Hooks become the second Texas League team in the last 20 years to reach 89 wins in a single season (also San Antonio in 2011, 94-46). Linares has been a manager in the Astros system in each of the last nine seasons, leading the Class A Advanced JetHawks to two California League Championship titles (2012, 2014) while receiving the California League Manager of the Year honors in 2013.
Doug Brocail will begin his second season as pitching coach at Double A Corpus Christi. A veteran of 16 Major League seasons, Brocail was named Special Assistant to the GM and Senior Pitching Advisor prior to the 2014 season, following a stint as the Astros Major League pitching coach from 2011-13. Dan Radison will be back in Corpus Christi as the club’s hitting coach for the second straight season. Radison served as a special assistant in player development in 2014, and was the Astros assistant hitting coach on the Major League staff in 2013. Grant Hufford will be with the Astros for his ninth season in 2016, and his second as Corpus Christi’s athletic trainer. Taylor Rhoades will join the Hooks for his first season as strength and conditioning coach, and his third year overall with the Astros.
CLASS A ADVANCED LANCASTER JETHAWKS
Omar Lopez is set to return to the JetHawks for his second season as manager and his 18th overall with the Astros organization. Lopez led Lancaster to their fourth consecutive postseason appearance in 2015, with the club leading all of minor league baseball in runs scored (888), homers (174), batting average (.291) and OPS (.850). A member of the Astros organization since 1999, Lopez has managed seven seasons in Houston’s system, and led the 2013 Quad Cities River Bandits to a Midwest League Championship title.
Joining Lopez on the coaching staff will be Michael Burns (pitching coach) and Darryl Robinson (hitting coach). Burns, a former Major League relief pitcher who played for the Astros historic 2005 team, spent the last two seasons as the organization’s rehab coach. Robinson has been the JetHawks hitting coach since 2009, and in 2013 was named the California League Coach of the Year after the JetHawks led the minors in runs (976), walks (669), on-base percentage (.384) and OPS (.853). Michael Rendon will enter his second season as the JetHawks trainer and his sixth with the Astros. Dwayne Petersonreturns to the Astros organization for his third season, and his first as the JetHawks strength and conditioning coach.
CLASS A QUAD CITIES RIVER BANDITS
Josh Bonifay will head back to Quad Cities for his second season as manager after receiving 2015 Midwest League Manager of the Year honors and leading the River Bandits to the best winning percentage in all of the minor leagues (88-50, .638) this past season. In his three years as a manager in Houston’s system, Bonifay has garnered two Manager of the Year awards, as he was also named the Appalachian League Manager of the Year in 2013 while managing Rookie Level Greeneville. An eight-year minor league veteran, Bonifay began his coaching career as a player/coach in the Pirates organization (2007-09) before joining the Astros in 2011.
Dave Borkowski (pitching coach) and Joel Chimelis (hitting coach) return to the River Bandits in their same roles. Borkowski, a former seven-year Major League pitcher, will be Houston’s Class A pitching coaching for the fourth consecutive season, while Chimelis will be returning for his 11th season in the Astros system and his fourth as Quad Cities hitting coach. Wladimir Sutilserve as a coach at Quad Cities in what will be his third season as a coach with the Astros. Corey O’Brien will return to his role as Quad Cities athletic trainer for his second straight year and his fifth overall with the Astros, while Joe Bossard will be returning to the Astros for his second season, and his first as Quad Cities strength and conditioning coach.
CLASS A SHORT SEASON TRI-CITY VALLEYCATS
After leading the Greeneville Astros to the Appalachian League Championship title in his first year as a manager with Houston,Lamarr Rogers will move up to Tri-City to serve as the club’s manager for the 2016 season. Rogers has spent 22 years working in professional baseball as a player and coach, and spent 16 seasons with the St. Paul Saints Professional Baseball Club of the Independent Northern League prior to joining the Astros organization in 2014.
Rogers’ staff will consist of Ace Adams (pitching coach), Russ Steinhorn (hitting coach), John Gregorich (athletic trainer) and Mark Spadavecchia (strength). Adams returns to the Astros for his second season and his first as ValleyCats pitching coach, while Steinhorn will be the club’s hitting coach for the fourth consecutive season. Gregorich enters his second season with the ValleyCats and his third overall with the Astros. Spadavecchia returns to the Astros for his fourth season, and his first as Tri-City’s strength and conditioning coach.
ROOKIE LEVEL GREENEVILLE ASTROS
Greeneville’s manager is TBD, but Chris Holt (pitching coach), Cesar Cedeno (hitting coach), Elliot Diehl (athletic trainer) and Julio Diaz (strength) will comprise the coaching staff. Holt is returning to the Astros for his third season, and his first as Greeneville’s pitching coach. Cedeno returns to Greeneville for his fifth consecutive season, and his 16th as a coach with the Astros. The four-time All-Star played 12 seasons (1970-81) with the Astros and collected five Gold Gloves as an outfielder. Diehl will be entering his second season with the Astros organization, while Diaz will begin his fourth.
ROOKIE LEVEL GULF COAST LEAGUE ASTROS
Marty Malloy returns to the GCL Astros for his fourth season overall and his third as manager. Malloy played 12 seasons (1992-2003) of minor league baseball and appeared in 35 career Major League games while playing for Atlanta (1998) and Florida (2002).
Erick Abreu (pitching coach), Luis Mateo (hitting coach) and Ramon Vazquez (coach) will be joined by Ben Myers (athletic trainer). Abreu pitched five seasons in the Astros minor league system, and has been a coach in the DSL for each of the last two years. Mateo has spent the last seven seasons as a hitting coach in the DSL, while Vazquez has been a coach in the Astros system since 2014. Myers will be returning to the GCL Astros for his second season.