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Mariners announce 2020 MiLB coaching staff

Some new faces, some new titles, some old friends

New York Yankees v Seattle Mariners
Art Decider says: Art
Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

After a lengthy delay, the Mariners finally announced their MiLB staff for 2020 today. The team will return the majority of their coaches, albeit some in different roles, and there are some new faces who will be joining the organization (as well as some old friends making their return). Tony Arnerich, formerly the catching coordinator for the organization, will take over Carson Vitale’s job as the minor league field coordinator, as Vitale will now be with the major league club. The Special Assistants—Alvin Davis, Pete Harnisch, Dan Wilson, and Mike Cameronwill all return to fly around the organization and sprinkle their magic on every level of the minors. The Mariners will also return the organization’s Hitting Coordinator in Hugh “Q” Quattlebaum and Pitching Coordinator/Wunderkind Max Weiner. After serving as the interim manager for Double-A Arkansas, Cesar Nicolas will return to his previous role as Latin American Field Coordinator.

Triple-A Tacoma:

Daren Brown returns for his 23rd season with the organization and his second consecutive managing the Rainiers. Hitting coach Roy Howell will also return. The new addition to the staff here is promising young pitching mind Rob Marcello Jr., who will make the leap to Triple-A after spending his first year in the organization with High-A Modesto. At Modesto, RMJ oversaw a staff that ranked second in the Cal League in strikeouts, with 442 Ks in 1222 IP, with the best K-BB ratio in the league. His players rave about his work ethic, pitching mind, and teaching ability, and it’s clear the 2019 Mariners Minor League Coach of the Year’s career is on a fast track in the organization.

Double-A Arkansas:

After the abrupt departure of Mitch Canham mid-season, Arkansas struggled to regain its previous worldbeating form under interim coach Cesar Nicholas. Dave Berg, who managed the West Virginia Power last year, will take the reins in Arkansas this year, continuing his steady ascent through the organization after starting off as a hitting coach in Tacoma in 2018. He’ll be joined by his pitching coach from West Virginia, Team Israel standout and changeup whisperer Alon Leichman. The hitting coach duties will be handled by former major leaguer Joe Thurston, who has been with the organization since 2017.

High-A Modesto:

High-energy manager and former big leaguer Denny Hocking returns to Modesto, where he remains conveniently located to see his two daughters play college soccer (one at ASU, and one at USC—Penelope, who is a soccer phenom). Hocking loses the talented Marcello as his pitching coach but gains an intriguing hire in Sean McGrath, hired away this off-season from the Mariners’ favorite draft spot, Elon University. The staff is rounded out by beloved former Mariner and Tri-Cities native Shawn O’Malley, who will serve as the hitting coach.

Single-A West Virginia:

Eric Farris, the Power’s hitting coach in 2019, steps up to his first managerial assignment this season. He’ll be joined by former organization member and Arizona Wildcat Nathan Bannister (“Big Game Banni”) as the pitching coach. Bannister had been working with the DSL team along with Rob Benjamin, who moves up as well to become the Power’s hitting coach. Benjamin, a Puerto Rican/New York native who is bilingual, runs his own hitting academy in the off-season. He has worked extensively with Mariners prospects Noelvi Marte and Jonatan Clase, both of whom credit Benjamin with making them better hitters.

Short-A Everett:

Kid Manager Louis Boyd returns for his first full season managing after stepping in as Everett’s interim manager in July of last year. Boyd is the most recent draftee of the Mariners’ players-turned-coaches, having been drafted out of Arizona in 2017. The Mariners love Boyd’s makeup and leadership, and it will be fun to see what the Vancouver, CA native can do starting from day one instead of coming in mid-season. Ari Ronick will return as pitching coach after his first year in the organization; Ronick’s specialty is in injury prevention and biomechanics and he comes from a physical therapy background. New hire Michael Fransoso will take on the hitting coach duties. Fransoso most recently played with the Atlantic League’s Somerset Patriots, but a degenerative hip issue limited his playing ability (he had the hip replaced just today and reports surgery went well and he’s looking forward to being able to dance to “Get Low” again). The upside of young coaches: they know all about the MiLB grind.

AZL Mariners:

Not much is changing for the Baby M’s, with Zac Livingston returning for a fifth season as manager and Yoel Monzon continuing on as pitching coach, but the AZL M’s will get a big shot of energy from new hitting coach Jose Umbría, 2018 Mariners MiLB Coach of the Year and most recently of High-A Modesto. Umbría is beloved among players as both a baseball mind and a father figure, especially for the Latin players. Putting the experienced, Spanish-speaking Umbría at this level might signal that the Mariners are expecting a heavy infusion of players from the DSL Academy to come stateside to begin the 2020 season.

DSL Mariners:

Austin Knight returns to oversee the Marineritos for another year. He’s rejoined by Luis Caballero and legendary Dominican coach Guady Jabalera, who was at the Academy for part of last year but will start his first full season with the club in 2020. Jose Amancio will do the pitching coach duties, and first-year coach Brett Schneider will take over for Benjamin as the hitting coach. Schneider was most recently an assistant hitting coach at Florida Atlantic University and has the enviable Twitter handle @busterschneides.