If you remember, the Yankees will be establishing a new affiliate team in the Appalachian League for the 2015 season. The new advanced rookie team will replace one of the two rookie ball affiliates from last season and provide young players with better competition. The organization has now announced the inaugural coaching staff that will help those prospects improve this year.
Just days after confirming to reporters that he would serve as a roving instructor throughout the Yankees minor league system and denying that he was to be the first manager of the Pulaski Yankees, Tony Franklin, the former longtime manager of the Trenton Thunder Double-A affiliate, was then announced as the new Pulaski Yankees manager. As it turns out, he will serve as a roving instructor during the spring months of the season, spending time with prospects in Low-A Charleston, High-A Tampa, Double-A Trenton, and Triple-A Scranton beginning in April and will then move over to his duties as manager once the league's season starts in June. The Appalachian League is much like the short season NY-Penn League and will allow him to perform both jobs in the same season.
Franklin's staff is comprised of pitching coach Justin Pope, hitting coach Edwar Gonzalez, defensive coach Hector Rabago, athletic trainer Josh DiLoreto, and strength and condition coach James Gonzalez. Pope is a one-time pitching prospect who played in the Yankees organization between 2003-2007 and has previously served as the manager of the State Island Yankees. Edwar Gonzalez and Hector Rabago are also former players; Gonzalez was an outfielder who was in the organization from 2001-2010 before he retired at 27, while Rabago played catcher, second base, and third base from 2009-2013.
Having a new affiliate inside the organization is a fun little thing to look forward to in the Yankees system if you're a prospect hound. Hopefully it will help to expose younger players to higher levels of play earlier on in their development, but it's also nice to see the organization put together a coaching staff that can lead these kids this year. Tony Franklin is well liked by both players and the Yankees, so while he's not as exciting as finding out who will actually play for the team, he's at least maybe the second best thing. The players themselves should be the next announcement about the Pulaski Yankees. At least I hope they are already.