We look at major league baseball players and many fans think that the talent alone made them professional baseball players. While talent might be what allowed them to be drafted, it was hard work and diligent player development by the teams that drafted them that allowed that talent to be molded into something that resembled a major league player.
Often times the casual fans do not think about the time and effort that teams and their coaching staffs go to in order to further these kids dreams of playing at the highest levels of the game. It is the franchises that are able to develop this talent year after year that differentiate teams who have casual success with those that have competitive teams on almost an annual basis.
Over the past several season the Arizona Diamondbacks have shown an ability to find talent in the draft and turn those raw materials into something that can be successful as competition increases. The “Down on the Farm” segments within Chase Field during every Diamondbacks home game act as a reminder that there is a foundation for being optimistic. Each level of the minor leagues have been every competitive and competed and in many cases won league championships.
So when the Arizona Diamondbacks announced their 2016 Player Development staffs I paid close attention to see who would be molding what could be the next wave of superstars to play at Chase Field or elsewhere in the major leagues. For some teams the staffs looked very familiar where in other cases new blood has been infused to work with minor league players.
In Triple-A Reno, Phil Nevin who is in his third year as manager will manage the Aces again. His pitching coach is new this season with Gil Heredia getting his first job at the Triple-A level and 8th season overall with the Diamondbacks organization. Hitting coach in Reno will be Greg Gross.
The Double-A Mobile Bay Bears will be managed again by Robby Hammock who will have Doug Drabeck as his pitching coach and Jason Camilli as the hitting coach. Two new coaches to the BayBears staff will be Mike Lansing and Eddie Oropesa. An interesting note, Lansing was the first batter of the first Diamondbacks game on March 31, 1998 while playing for the Colorado Rockies.
Single-A Advanced Visalia Rawhide will be managed by J.R. House for the second season. His pitching coach will be Jeff Bajenaru while the hitting coach will be Vince Harrison. An interesting name to note is former Diamondbacks catcher Chad Moeller will be back in Visalia as the trainer.
Single-A Full Season Kane County Cougars will be managed by Mike Benjamin with Rich Sauveur as pitching coach and Jonathan Mathews as hitting coach. It should be noted that the entire staff in Kane County will be new for 2016.
Short-Season A Hillsboro Hops will be managed by Shelley Duncan for the second season. Pitching coach Mike Parrott and hitting coach Jose Amado will both join Duncan in Hillsboro this season.
The Diamondbacks will have an affiliate in Missoula for the 18th season with Joe Mather as the manager, Darwin Peguero as pitching coach, and Franklin Stubbs as hitting coach. Rookie-Level Arizona League D-Backs will be managed by Darrin Garner with Manny Garcia as the pitching coach and Jacob Cruz as hitting coach.
Beyond the individual team coaching staffs the Diamondbacks will also return multiple coordinator positions including Dan Carlson as pitching coordinator, Chris Cron as hitting coordinator, and Joel Youngblood as outfield/baserunning coordinator. They have added a new assistant coordinator and named Mark Grudzielanek to that post.
Looking over the list there are many names that are familiar to Diamondbacks fans or baseball fans in general. For me, I look this over and feel confident that the future of the Diamondbacks are in great hands.