When you look at the Arizona Diamondbacks and you see the homegrown talent that they have produced over the years, you have to look at the importance of the their minor league coaches in getting them prepared for big league play. When the D’backs recently announced their minor league coaching staff for the 2012-13 season, I began to look at the names listed and thought to myself that there might not be a more qualified group of coaches in any organization in Major League Baseball.
Playing the game for a long time does not automatically make you a great coach, but it does give you insight that those that have not played the game, do not have. It gives you experience in the game that allows you to relate to players and situationally teach how the game is played at the elite level. It gives you credibility amongst your players that you have played the game yourself at an elite level.
All of the aforementioned characteristics can be extremely important when looking at player development and if you look at the D’backs coaching staff and some of the names assembled, many of the organization’s minor league players can take a tremendous amount of knowledge away from what they are teaching them.
Brett Butler returns for his fifth season as the manager of the Class AAA Reno Aces. Butler, one of the game’s premier lead-off hitters during his 17-year career, can impart his knowledge of the game to those closest to reaching the show. Mike Parrott returns for his 12th season as pitching coach for the D’backs Class AAA affiliate. The addition of former Philadelphia Phillies hitting coach Greg Gross for the same position in Reno can only hope to add to the success that the Aces experienced last season (81-63- best record in franchise history, 1st Class AAA National Championship, Pacific Coast League Champion).
Former Diamondbacks infielder Andy Green will take the helm in Class AA Mobile this season after capturing the Advanced-Rookie League Championship in the Pioneer League for the D’backs affiliate in Missoula last season. This is Green’s third year with the organization in a coaching capacity. Former Major League pitcher Dan Carlson will be the pitching coach again, his third season with the BayBears and 12th with the organization. Jacob Cruz will be the hitting coach in Mobile this year after serving in the same capacity for Class A-Advanced Visalia in 2012.
Former Major League manager Bill Plummer (Mariners-’92) returns to Class A-Advanced Visalia, his seventh overall with the D’backs organization. Former Major League pitcher Gil Heredia will be the pitching coach after earning a promotion for the work he accomplished in Rookie-Advanced Missoula last season. Jason Hardkte will be the hitting coach, returning for his fourth season with the organization. third in Visalia.
The staff mostly remains the same in Class A South Bend. Mark Haley will manage again, his ninth straight season in South Bend while Wellington Cepeda returns as pitching coach for his fourth straight season. Jason Camilli, the former Thunderbird High School product from Phoenix, will serve as the hitting coach after being promoted for his work in Short Season Class A Yakima last year.
Audo Vicente will be the first manager of the Short Season Class A Hillsboro Hops as the franchise has moved the team from Yakima, WA to Hillsboro, OR. Vicente will be in his fourth season managing the club. Former Cy Young winner Doug Drabek will serve as the pitching coach and former Major Leaguer J.R. House will begin his second season with the club as hitting coach .
D’back fan favorite Robby Hammock will begin his first ever managerial job with Rookie-Advanced Missoula. Hammock served the last season as the hitting coach with the Rookie Arizona League D’backs. Former Major Leaguer Doug Bochtler will be the pitching coach and Major League veteran Wilson Valera will take over as hitting coach. Valera spent the last two seasons as part of the Arizona major league coaching staff.
The Rookie Arizona League D’backs will be managed by Luis Urueta, who has coached inside the organization for the last six seasons. Former D’backs pitcher Jeff Bajenaru will serve as pitching coach for the third straight season and former big leaguer Bobby Smith will serve as hitting coach, also back for his third season.
With an experienced staff in place, one that has been part of the organization for multiple years on overage, it build continuity within the organization. This can only help these young players grow into productive professional baseball players. For D’backs fans, they are hoping that these men can shepherd these men through the trials and tribulations of the minor leagues so that some day they can be stars for the Arizona Diamondbacks.