The Rangers, on Thursday, announced their 2017 minor league coaching staffs, and thankfully, there's not a lot of big changes. I say thankfully, because consistency on the farm, when you've produced the results Texas has, is a good thing. Seeing familiar faces is important to a players' development, and more often than not, helpful.
The AA and AAA staffs, essentially remain unchanged. Round Rock returns Jason Wood, Greg Hibbard, and Jim Presley as Manager, Pitching Coach, and Hitting Coach respectively. Woody has been in the Rangers org for a while now and has skippered several levels for several year stints: all of which makes him a candidate for a big league job, hopefully with Texas, in the next couple of seasons. He's an even-keeled dude, but he'll bench your ass if he needs to. Same goes for Joe Mikulik who returns to helm Frisco for another season. He's joined by Pitching Coach Brian Shouse and Hitting Coach Jason Hart for the second year as a triumvirate. Good dudes, all, who are very good at their jobs and especially in Shouse and Hart's cases- could continue climbing the ladder all the way to the top. Mik is simply one of my favorite people in the game and 2017 will be the year I'm able to convince him to sit down for a long-form interview. More people should know Mik and should hear some of his stories from 19 years as a minor league skipper and a lifetime in the game.
Perhaps the happiest person following the move from High Desert to Kinston, North Carolina- aside from the Texas front office and roving instructors, was Mets legend Howard Johnson who retains his gig as the High-A manager. He'll be joined by Pitching Coach Steve Mintz, who served as Hickory's manager last year after Spike Owen was quickly bumped up to the big leagues in Tony Beasley's 3B coaching box. Speaking of Spike Owen, he'll take over the job he originally had last year, as Hickory's manager. He's a very good teacher and I'm sure his year on the hot corner in the Bigs only buoyed his already heady knowledge. The Cleburne High and UT alum will be joined in Hickory by new hitting coach, Kenny Hook. Hook moves up from short-season Spokane and although I don't know him, I know he's viewed very favorably within the org.
Speaking of Spokane, former Liberty Flame Matt Hagen will take over as skipper there for Tim Hullett, who won't return after 10 years with the Indians. Tim had, for a decade, coached Louisiana powerhouse Evangel Christian High School then picked up shop and relocated to Spokane to handle the new Rangers. The familiar name on the Arizona Rookie League coaching rosters is everyone's favorite MiLB legend, Guilder Rodriguez. Following his inaugural coaching foray last year with the Dominican Summer League team, G-Rod moves stateside this season to handle another batch of recent signees.
Roving instructors, a mega-important piece in overall instruction, remain consistent well with Danny Clark and Jeff Andrews continuing to helm the pitching development program, while Josue Perez will handle the bats. Corey Ragsdale returns as the MiLB Field Coordinator (basically, the guy who dictates the workouts and plans for the entire farm) and he's most definitely a name to watch when MLB promotions are announced over the next couple of offseasons. Chris Briones will return as the catching coordinator and he did a heckuva job last year getting the most out of the catchers we've got in the minors; Jose Trevino and Isiah Kiner-Falefa-- I'm looking in your direction.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Geno Petralli is back as a coach for Round Rock. Still the best mustache in Rangers history, and only man to bite Bo Jackson and live to tell about it.
In summary: lots of familiar names in familiar places, and for the time being, that's a good thing.
As Always, Enjoy Baseball!