The Oakland A's announced the 2017 coaching staff for their Triple-A affiliate on Tuesday.
Ryan Christenson is the new manager after guiding the Double-A RockHounds to two straight league championships and earning Texas League Manager of the Year honors last year. The former A's outfielder has made a dynamic rise up the system as a coach, as his teams have made the playoffs each of the last four seasons -- Single-A Beloit in 2013, High-A Stockton in 2014, and Double-A Midland the last two years. Now he’s got the top job at the highest level of the minors, just one step away from the bigs.
Ryan Christenson did a terrific job with @RockHounds and is moving up quickly. Definitely potential to become a big-league manager one day.— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) November 15, 2016
It's worth noting that Christenson has spent a lot of his time managing many of the top prospects who are currently poised to make up the future core of the A’s. His 2014 Stockton team and his 2015 title-winning Hounds squad featured players like Ryon Healy, Bruce Maxwell, Matt Olson, Renato Nunez, Chad Pinder, and Jaycob Brugman. He also managed Sean Manaea, Ryan Dull, and Zach Neal in 2015, and in his second season with the Hounds he worked with Matt Chapman, Franklin Barreto, Raul Alcantara, and Daniel Gossett, and oversaw the early breakouts of Healy, Brugman, and Daniel Mengden.
The A’s are not currently in the market for a manager, as Bob Melvin still has just about everyone’s support and bench coach Mark Kotsay is also considered a potential future candidate, but it’s nice to have too many options rather than not enough. And anyway, there are a lot of roles on an MLB coaching staff and it’s more common to start in a lower position (like a base coach) rather than jumping straight up to the big chair. The point is, Christenson keeps on moving up and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him in Oakland sometime in the next few years, in some capacity.
Meanwhile, 2016 Sounds manager Steve Scarsone will remain in the organization as a roving instructor. Pitching coach Rick Rodriguez returns in his same role, entering his 33rd year in the organization (including a couple as the A’s MLB bullpen coach). Hitting coach Eric Martins, who was on Christenson’s Midland staff in 2015 and moved up to Nashville in 2016, also returns in his same role.
As for Christenson’s old job in Double-A Midland, that will be filled by new manager Fran Riordan. After a long career in the independent Frontier League, Riordan spent the last two seasons as the skipper for Single-A Beloit.