After announcing their coaching staffs for the major league team and their upper minor league affiliates, the Yankees have now announced their faculty for the 2015 High-A Tampa Yankees, Low-A Charleston RiverDogs, and Short Season-A Staten Island Yankees. There are plenty of new faces among the crowd, but also a few familiar ones as well. Hopefully these hires will improve the organization's ability to develop young baseball players into professionals.
The Tampa Yankees overhauled much of their coaching staff, opting to hire a new manager in Dave Bialas, a new pitching coach in Tommy Phelps, and a new hitting coach in Tom Slater. Bialas played in the St. Louis Cardinal's organization for 10 years between 1973 and 1982, has experience as a minor league coach, and served as a field coordinator for the Braves over the last two years. After six years with the Trenton Thunder, Phelps is being moved to Tampa in order for him to work with some of the young up-and-coming pitchers moving through the system. Slater is entering his seventh season in the Yankees organization, where he has served in multiple different roles over the years. Coach JD Closser, strength and conditioning coach Joe Siara, and athletic trainer Michael Becker all return to the team from last year.
The Charleston RiverDogs will bring back manager Luis Dorante for his second stint with the club. He played six seasons in the Boston Red Sox organization, has 12 seasons of managerial experience, and served as the bullpen coach for the Pittsburgh Pirates big league team from 2008-2010. New hitting coach Greg Colbrunn is a 13-year major league veteran who played for seven teams between 1992 and 2004. He previously served as the RiverDogs hitting coach and manager between 2007-2012 before taking the Red Sox big league job for the last two years. New pitching coach Tim Norton was a relief pitcher in the Yankees organization from 2006-2011 and moves up from Staten Island, while last year's GCL Yankees manager takes over as defensive coach. Jimmy Downam and Anthony Velazquez return as athletic trainer and strength and conditioning coach, respectively.
The Staten Island Yankees have named Patrick Osborn, a former 2002 second-round draft pick, as their new manager. They have also brought in seven-year major league veteran Butch Henry to serve as pitching coach, while bringing back hitting coach Ty Hawkins for his 10th season in that role and 27th in the organization. Making his coaching debut is former Yankees first round pick and Baseball America top 100 prospect Eric Duncan as the team's defensive coach. Now 30, he was drafted 27th overall in 2003 and soared through the system before flaming out in the upper minors and leaving the organization after the 2009 season.
There's some good talent among these coaches and hopefully that will translate into good returns on the baseball diamond. The Yankees will give their prospects the best tools they can to develop their talents, but it's ultimately up to the players to figure it all out. Let's hope for a big year in 2015.