The Oakland A’s announced their 2019 player development staff on Thursday, and it includes some blasts from the past.
This staff covers a wide range of duties, with Keith Lieppman heading the department for the 28th year (and his 49th year overall with the club). There are several positions at the organizational level, who oversee certain things within the whole franchise and/or travel around to provide roving instruction. In addition, each minor league affiliate has its own coaching staff.
There are more than 50 names included in the press release, but even the most diehard fans won’t be familiar with most of them. However, there are a few highlights worth mentioning.
- Bobby Crosby, former Rookie of the Year shortstop, is now a coach for the Double-A Midland RockHounds. It took two tries to sign his contract, since the first time it slid way off to the other side of the table and he completely missed it with his pen (citation needed).
- Chris Smith, who pitched for the A’s in 2016-17, is now the pitching coach for High-A Stockton. He’ll serve under new manager Webster Garrison, who moves up from Single-A Beloit to replace Rick Magnante (who moves into a general player development role and will help out in Low-A Vermont). No word on whether Smith will also serve as Team Dad.
- Kevin Kouzmanoff, who spent 2010 and part of 2011 as Oakland’s third baseman, is now the hitting coach for Low-A Vermont. He posted a putrid .279 OBP in his time with the A’s (.302 career), but on the bright side he did technically lead the club in homers in ‘10. Remember that quality of playing career has basically no correlation with coaching ability, as Bob Melvin and Ryan Christenson will happily remind us. Either way, paging Tutu.
- Hiram Bocachica, who briefly played for the A’s in 2005-07, is now the manager of one of their Arizona Rookie League affiliates (they’ve added a second AZL team). Bocachica had already joined the organization last year, so this isn’t a new hire, but it’s clearly a promotion up toward relevance.
- Javier Herrera, a former national Top 100 prospect for Oakland as a dynamic power/speed outfielder, is now a coach in the AZL. Your reaction to this name will reveal just how old you are and how long you’ve been following the A’s.
- Javier Godard, a lower-minors A’s prospect from 2013-18, is now a coach for High-A Stockton after retiring as a player after last season.
Finally, Ed Sprague also merits a mention. He’s not a new hire, as this will be his fourth season with the club, but he’s a Bay Area native (Castro Valley, Stockton, Stanford) who briefly played for the A’s in 1998 during a long, solid playing career. He’s now the assistant director of player development, presumably making him the No. 2 behind Lieppman.
For more details on these moves, the big-picture expansion of the whole staff, and some quotes from key figures, check out Melissa Lockard’s writeup at The Athletic.
Welcome home to the newest members of the Player Development staff!
Minor league managers
Here’s the updated list of managers for each A’s affiliate, including how many seasons they’ve been in their current position.
Triple-A Las Vegas: Fran Riordan (2nd year)
Double-A Midland: Scott Steinmann (2nd year)
High-A Stockton: Webster Garrison (1st year)
Single-A Beloit: Lloyd Turner (1st year)
Low-A Vermont: Aaron Nieckula (5th year)
AZL A’s 1: Eddie Menchaca (2nd year)
AZL A’s 2: Hiram Bocachica (1st year)
Note that Garrison in particular has extensive experience managing in the A’s system, but this just happens to be his first season in a new role. He previously managed Stockton from 2011-13, so this is actually his second stint there.