[Ed. note: please welcome Kyle Gehler and Nick Vitalis, who will be helping us out on the minors side of things this season. You’ll hear more about them both when they drop their first individual pieces of the season, but we’re super-grateful to both of them for jumping in and assisting with this preview.]
The Mariners recently announced their 2022 player development staff, and while there’s a host of new names and faces, some old friends return, as well. A star (*) next to a person’s name indicates they are new to the organization as a coach; a plus (+) indicates a previous coach who has moved up a level(s).
Triple-A (AAA) Tacoma:
Manager: Tim Federowicz*
Federowicz (fed-er-oh-vich) is new to the Seattle Mariners organization, but you might recognize him from his 83 plate appearances with the 2019 Texas Rangers, or maybe from his appearance with Team USA in the 2020 summer games, where he won a silver medal. Or perhaps it’s from one of his other stops with the Dodgers, Cubs, Giants, Reds, or Astros—or if that doesn’t ring a bell, maybe his minor-league time with the Padres, or with the Tigres de Licey in LIDOM, or the Mayos De Navajoa in the Mexican League? Like Johnny Cash, he’s been everywhere, man. Federowicz’s only tie to the Mariners organization, as far as we can tell, is having been part of the three-team trade that sent Érik Bédard to the Red Sox and Trayvon Robinson to the Mariners. Federowicz, having retired recently, is a first-time coach, but according to a Tar Heels blog that remembers the North Carolina native/UNC grad fondly, “Fed Ex” is a great baseball mind and someone who has given back to the community in youth coaching extensively.
Hitting coach: Brad Marcelino*
Another new hire who nonetheless has some history with the team, Marcelino knows Mariners prospect Travis Ray Kuhn, having coached the USD team while Kuhn was a player (he was also Kris Bryant’s college coach, which, SIGH). Even as a pitcher, Kuhn has warm reviews of Marcelino, calling him a “great guy” who “really knows his stuff.” Marcelino is a well-known hitting instructor around the San Diego area, where “Marcelino swings” are a name for a particular drill. (Did the Mariners just hire the next Bobby Tewksbury? Only time will tell.) A fun fact about Marcelino: he was born in England and has played for the British national team (he’s a member of their HOF!), as well as having played ball in Europe (including for the incredibly fun-named Hoofdklasse). His B-ref page is definitely worth a read, and he’s a prolific poster on Instagram for those of you on the developmental baseball side.
Pitching coach: Alon Leichman+
The pride of Team Israel, Leichman has steadily climbed up the ladder since joining the organization in 2017. Pitchers love Leichman, but so do position players, especially the international players; check the comments on his Instagram, where everyone from B.J. Perez and Luis Curvelo to Victor Labrada and Noelvi Marte leave “papi” encouraging comments. Aside from his bona fides as a pitcher and pitching instructor, Leichman has an incredibly interesting backstory; check out this interview our Becca Weinberg did with him a couple years ago.
Bench Coach: Zach Vincej*
Long-time RainersHeads will recognize Vincej (Vince-ee), who was with the team for around a hundred games back in 2018, and then signed a minor-league contract in 2021 (but never played in a game). Vincej is maybe one of the best defensive shortstops who has ever donned a Rainiers uniform; I watched him play several games with Tacoma back in 2018 and he was absolutely nails. Is it significant the Mariners hired a defensively brilliant former shortstop as a coach with prospect Noelvi Marte on the comeup? Probably?
Athletic Trainer: Michael Feliciano,+ ATC
Strength and Conditioning Coach: Michael Sadler+
Michael “Mikey” Sadler has been with the organization since 2018, and I want in no way to diminish him, but my friends, this man is a smol man. There is a picture of him standing next to Cal Raleigh that looks like Sadler is one of those Russian dolls standing beside its bigger complement. AND YET. Like an ant, Sadler appears to be able to lift 500x his body weight. He is smol, but he is skrong. And, more importantly, players adore him. The organization does too, apparently, zooming him from Low-A Modesto all the way up to Triple-A this year.
Feliciano, who has been with the Mariners since 2018, earned his Bachelor’s in Athletic Training at Universidad de Puerto Rico and is the sole native Spanish speaker on this coaching staff. He holds a master’s in Athletic Training from East Stroudsburg University (PA).
Double-A (AA) Arkansas:
Manager: Collin Cowgill
(Technically) Former M’s Alert! Though Cowgill might be most recognizable to Mariners fans from the three seasons he spent in the division with Los Angeles (2013-2015), Cowgill was also, briefly, a Mariner, as he was signed to a minor league contract in 2020 prior to Spring Training, where he was expected to compete for a spot on the 40-man roster. But alas, when Summer Camp and the microseason of 2020 picked up again, Cowgill did not make an appearance. Then, last January, he was announced as the manager of the Travs - a perfect fit, given he has the beard, demeanor, and overall Vibe of a man who belongs in Arkansas. He had a solid run in 2021, leading Arkansas to a 64-56 record, just a half-game behind Northwest Arkansas for the last playoff spot in Double-A Central-North (thank God for the return to historic minor league names).
Success at the Double-A level can be difficult—the roster, more than most, can be in flux, as Double-A often serves as a go-between for the lower minors and Triple-A (and for pitchers, the major league club). But Cowgill navigated the on-field challenges well last year, and, just as importantly, balanced his responsibilities of coaching his team between the lines as well as outside them.
“That’s definitely satisfying when they go up and do well,” Cowgill said in an interview with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. “But the most compliments I get are when [Tacoma Rainiers manager Kristopher Negron and pitching coach Rob Marcello] call me and say, ‘Great job with O’Keefe. He’s a better catcher, he’s a better person, he’s a better clubhouse guy.’
“That’s satisfying, when you impact a person and not just a player.”
Hitting coach: Shawn O’Malley+
Legitimate Former M’s Alert! O’Malley spent parts of two seasons with the Mariners (2015-2016), a frequent-flier on the Tacoma-Seattle Shuttle. He makes the move to Little Rock in his third season as a coach in the system, after a season each at the High-A level in Modesto and Everett. in 2019 and 2021, respectively.
The local Tri-Cities kid’s biggest claim to Mariners fame is knocking in the go-ahead run in the famous 12-run comeback win over the Padres in 2016, and is therefore at least partially responsible for this beautiful act of Twitter.
Let us stay grateful for Shawn O’Malley.
Pitching coach: Sean McGrath+
Sean McGrath makes the jump from Everett with O’Malley after spending 2021 as the High-A squad’s pitching coach, his first season with the Mariners organization. He worked at Elon University from 2017-2019 as their pitching coach, notably joining the Seattle organization in 2019 along with two of his protégés from Elon, 2019 first-round draft pick George Kirby and eighth-rounder Ty Adcock.
Philosophically, McGrath finds himself in kindred company in Seattle. He has been a whole-hearted adopter of the analytics wave, having worked extensively with Driveline Baseball.
“I’m trying to take a guy’s arsenal and define what that guy might be able to do if we made some adjustments,” McGrath said in an interview with Prospects Live in 2019. “Or sometimes it’s about taking their arsenal and using the data to understand how we need to use a certain pitch.”
Meanwhile, Seattle has made a reputation for themselves in the industry as pitcher-fixers - having a knack for making tweaks to pitch sequencing, shape or usage in ways that has seen several players make major improvements (see Paul Sewald, James Paxton and J.T. Chargois, among others). Or, in other words, exactly what McGrath said above. Truly a match made in heaven.
McGrath is likely to see at least a couple of the organization’s big-ticket prospects in his staff, and the Double-A assignment is a show of confidence from Seattle that he can help shepherd these young pitchers into contributors at the major league level.
Bench Coach: Geoff Jimenez+
Jimenez joins the Travelers after having spent 2021, his first year with the organization, in Low-A Modesto. He spent 2020 in the Phillies organization in player development, his first major league gig.
He played college ball at Florida Atlantic University, and earned a masters in sports management from Missouri State University in 2018. He specializes in outfield play and base-running, having been a great defender and runner himself back in his day.
His Perfect Game USA prospect page is full of slightly-backhanded compliments about his size at the time. “Smaller build, wiry hidden strength,” shares space on the page with “Can’t imagine there are many better 120 lb players in the country. Don’t underestimate.” They do note, however, he’s a “Good student.” We love a well-educated king.
Athletic Trainer: Amanda Lee
Lee will rejoin the Travelers in her fourth year with the Mariners organization. Lee made waves as the first woman to serve as an athletic trainer for Seattle’s minor league teams, especially noteworthy considering there’s just one woman as an athletic trainer in the major leagues.
The Everett Herald published a great piece on her historic hiring and overall badass-ery here.
Strength and Conditioning Coach: Chris Walter*
Walter is the only new-guy to the Mariners organization in Arkansas, joining the Travs after six seasons as the strength and conditioning coach for Detroit. As all S&C coaches should be, the guy is Stacked and Jacked. His body is significantly broader than expected. If that was some sort of advanced statistic (xBB (eXpected Body Broadness)), he’d be off the charts.
Once, in a list of hobbies, the first two he listed were “strength and conditioning, [and] researching strength and conditioning.”
High-A (A+) Everett:
Manager Eric Farris+
Eric Farris continues his ascent through the organization since joining as AZL and AquaSox hitting coach in 2018. Last season he led Modesto to a winning record. The organization tabbed Farris to helm the West Virginia Power (gone, but never forgotten) in 2020 before the season was canceled because of you-know-what. Farris had a nearly decade-long career in professional baseball before hanging it up in 2016, and was a semifinalist for the Golden Spikes award in 2007 while at Loyola Marymount. 2018 wasn’t even his actual introduction to the Mariners organization, as the club selected him in the Triple-A portion of the Rule 5 draft in 2012. Farris takes the reins from Louis Boyd, who was promoted to Seattle’s minor league field coordinator.
Hitting Coach: Ryan McLaughlin+
I definitely don’t have any sort of mental breakdown at all when I remember that Ryan McLaughlin is only a month older than me. The 25-year-old McLaughlin graduated from New York University in 2019. It’s a fun little exercise wasting 30 minutes trying to figure out what recent NYU grads he may have shared classes with. My personal favorite picks are Rachel Sennott and Emma Seligman, both class of 2017, and the potential he had, like, a 100 level class with Timothée Chalamet freshman year. Anyway, back to baseball. McLaughlin spent last season as a coach for the Travelers. He was a developmental coach in Modesto starting in February of 2020. He also signed a contract as a player in 2020 to join the Mariners before the minor league season got canceled. McLaughlin takes over for Shawn O’Malley, who was promoted to Double-A.
Pitching Coach: Matt Pierpont*
Another newcomer to Everett, Pierpont signed a minor-league contract with the Mariners but never appeared in a game. This will be Pierpont’s introduction to coaching, as he pitched six seasons in the Rockies organization from 2013-2019. The Winthrop grad takes the place of Sean McGrath, who joins O’Malley in being promoted to Double-A. All of that is important, but it arguably pales in comparison to learning about Maverick, Pierpont’s dog.
Such a good boy. Please give me all of the MaverickXAquaSox content this year.
Bench Coach: Jose Umbria
Umbria is the clear veteran voice on the Everett coaching staff, which is sorta weird to say about a 44-year-old, but his 12 years of coaching in the Mariners organization is more coaching experience than the rest of the staff combined. On top of his extensive coaching experience, he is also the only coach on the staff who was a member of the AquaSox staff last season. Umbria has coached at six different affiliates since joining the Mariners in 2010. Umbria has a strong bond with the Spanish-speaking players, many of whom look to him as a father figure, which will undoubtedly help players like Noelvi Marte and Alberto Rodríguez as they likely will spend significant time in Everett in 2022.
Athletic Trainer: Aric Quinney, ATC
Quinney returns as the AquaSox Athletic Trainer for his second season. The University of Idaho grad joined the Mariners in December of 2019 after working in the Dominican Republic with the Cincinnati Reds for two years.
Strength and Conditioning Coach: Brennan Mickelson
Mickelson also returns for his second season in Everett. Mickelson joined the organization full time in June of 2019, but he interned for the club for a summer down in Peoria after he graduated from WSU in 2017. He received his master’s degree from the University of Montana.
Low-A (A) Modesto
Manager: Austin Knight+
Now a six-year veteran of the organization, Knight got his start working with the DSL Mariners in Boca Chica, and remains a favorite among the international players. He is not the Austin Knight who coaches for the ECU Pirates, although he says he gets that a lot.
Hitting coach: Michael Fransoso+
Moving up alongside his skipper from the ACL Mariners, Fransoso enters his second year in the organization.
Year 1 in the coaching books. These guys made it fun to come to work everyday and they put up with my malo Spanglish! Although there was no postseason to play for these guys showed up to win everyday. 40-18! That’s mucho wins! People+Process pic.twitter.com/0yrESoC4KL— Michael Fransoso (@M_Fransoso) September 19, 2021
Pitching Coach: Nathan Bannister
Those who Bear Down among us might remember “Big Game Banni” from his playing career at the University of Arizona. Long-time Mariners prospect heads might remember him as the Mariners’ 28th-rounder in the 2016 draft. Bannister, who had to retire from pitching due to a lingering shoulder injury, is especially good at working with pitchers rehabbing from injury, both on the physical and mental sides of the game, and has received praise from TJ warrior Sam Carlson, among others.
Bench coach: Ryan Scott
Scott was a player with the organization as recently as 2018 with the Arkansas Travelers, and he spent 2019 in the Angels’ system. After retiring from playing, Scott joined the Mariners organization, spending 2021 with the Travelers on the other side of the dugout. Scott came up primarily as a catcher as a player, but also has some outfield experience.
Athletic Trainer: Dan Laberry, MS, ATC
Strength and Conditioning Coach: Jose Alcantara Beas+
Laberry is on his second season with the Nuts; Beas is on his second season in the organization, having worked in the DSL in 2021.
First arm care seminar was a success!— Galgano Performance Systems (@camgalganoGPS) January 17, 2022
Thank you to everyone who came out- hope you got all your questions answered, and were able to take something out of it!
Here is Dan LaBerry, MS, ATC, from the Seattle Mariners, talking workload management for pitchers/throwing athletes! pic.twitter.com/52JgZKhUOC
Arizona Complex League (ACL) Mariners
Manager: Luis Caballero+
After six years of coaching with Los Marineros in the Dominican Summer League, Caballero has received a promotion to the club’s complex league. Caballero’s playing career ended in March of 2016, as the former infielder never made it past the High-A Bakersfield Blaze and was informed Seattle was interested in retaining him as an infield and first base coach with the Low-A Clinton Lumberkings, Seattle’s then-affiliate. For the 2017-2020 seasons, Caballero served as a coach for the DSL M’s, before being promoted to the manager of the club in 2021. Now with the reins of the Complex League club, the multilingual Panamanian will be responsible for continuing to build good habits and good relationships with a mixture of young Mariners farmhands from all over the world.
Hitting Coach: Brett Schneider
Joining Caballero on the way up the ladder is Schneider, the former director of baseball operations at Florida Atlantic University who spent last year as the hitting coach for the DSL M’s. Given the offensive prowess of the club, it’s no surprise to see Schneider get a nod, hoping to help “El Dron” (OF Gabriel Gonzalez) and other young bats make a successful transition stateside.
Pitching Coach: Yoel Monzon
Well regarded within and outside of the organization for his abilities in coaching and developing modern pitchers, Monzon is a former six-figure signing bonus prospect who defected from Cuba in the late 1990s to join the Colorado Rockies. Though he topped out in Single-A Asheville before injuries cut his career short, Monzon also got a taste of the Pacific Northwest as a member of the 1999 Portland Rockies. He’s a veteran of the Arizona staff, entering his seventh consecutive season as the pitching coach for the Complex M’s.
Bench Coach: Nico Giarratano*
After the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic waylaid plans for Giarratano to pursue baseball in Ravenna, Italy, he returned to North America to play for the Generales de Durango of the Mexican League in 2021. The former 24th round pick of the San Francisco Giants and subsequent Oakland Athletics farmhand matched up frequently against M’s affiliates in his minor league career, from the complex league and Northwest League up through the South Atlantic League and eventually the California League. As if that weren’t enough familiarity, while with the Generales, Giarratano got to face former M’s closer Fernando Rodney, seeing the air arrow fly at his own expense. In addition to his playing career, Giarratano worked as a graduate assistant on the College World Series-qualifying Univeristy of Arizona baseball team in 2021, and transitioned to working on behalf of Gradum Gswing, a hitting academy based in Jupiter, FL before joining the M’s staff this spring.
Athletic Trainer: Randy Roetter, ATC
By my estimation, Roetter is the longest-tenured Mariners minor league coach and may be among the longest-tenured Seattle Mariners employees period. He broke into the pros as a trainer in 1982 with Chicago Cubs affiliate Quad City, bouncing around the minors for several years in addition to some college work. Roetter’s Mariners career began in 1988 with the Low-A Wasau Timbers, before later earning promotion to the 1990 Triple-A Calgary Cannons on a roster that starred Tino Martinez. He’s since worked all across the organization, though he’s settled at the complex level since 2011. He’s also written several articles on athlete health and best practices, as well as a book neatly titled “Guidelines for Being a Minor League Trainer”.
Strength and Conditioning Coach: Drew Weidner
Promoted from an internship with the ACL Mariners, this is Weidner’s first year officially on staff, but his second in actuality working with the club. The Minnesota native attended Gustavus Adolphus College before working on strength and conditioning teams for teams at both the collegiate and professional levels ahead of joining Seattle.
Dominican Summer League (DSL) Mariners
Manager: Willie Concepcion*
The Staten Island native ground his way up through college to an independent ball career before shifting to working in the Puerto Rican Instructional League as well as an international, independent baseball and softball training organization called The Catching Camp. Concepcion takes the reins right away in the DSL in his first affiliated managerial role. Like many newer hires in the M’s organization, Concepcion has a sports psychology background, with a Masters in Sport and Performance Psychology from National University.
Hitting Coach: Devin Fujioka*
Another first year affiliated coach, Fujioka joins the Mariners from Austin Peay State University, where he was a volunteer assistant coach. Fujioka’s playing career came at Mount Mercy University in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, an NAIA level college separate from the NCAA.
Pitching Coach: Jose Amancio
Another longtime staffer returns to the role of pitching coach, as Jose Amancio will enter his sixth season instructing arms for the DSL M’s. Amancio’s playing career concluded with the Athletics in 2001 at the complex level; he returned to the DSL to coach for the Padres beginning in 2007. Since that time he’s worked as both a pitching coach for San Diego and an instructor for MLB’s overarching player development program.
Bench Coach: Hecmart Nieves*
Another NAIA veteran, Nieves joins the M’s following a playing career at Ottawa University in Ottawa, Kansas. Like most or potentially all of the ACL and DSL staffers, Nieves is at least bilingual, an obvious necessity for this role. Nieves is new to the M’s but not to working in pro ball, as he has held multiple analytics and scouting roles in Puerto Rican baseball, most recently as a Quality Control Coach for the Indios de Mayagüez of the Puerto Rican Winter League (LBPRC). He also was a Baseball Operations Assistant in the Dominican Republic in the 2021 season for the Detroit Tigers.
Athletic Trainer: Jorge Rodriguez, ATC
Another Puerto Rican connection on Seattle’s DSL staff is Rodriguez, who attended the University of Puerto Rico-Ponce for his B.S. in Athletic Training before heading to East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania for his Master of Science. East Stroudsburg, coincidentally(?) is where Mariners longtime farmhand Matt Festa hails from, the 2016 draftee being selected the same year as Rodriguez began his M.S. program. Coincidence? I think so, but still neat. Rodriguez joined the Mariners following completing his Master’s program in 2018 as an intern and has been the full-time trainer for the DSL M’s since that time, while also working in both the Mexican and Puerto Rican winter leagues.
Strength and Conditioning Coach: Cesar Velazquez
Cesar Velazquez-Mosqueda rounds out Seattle’s DSL staff with a Pacific Northwest connection. He earned his degree in Kinesiology and Exercise Science from Western Oregon University before working as an intern and later Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach at the University of Portland. Velazquez-Mosqueda later spent three seasons as a minor league Strength and Conditioning Coach for the San Francisco Giants before being hired by the Mariners in early 2021. He served in the same role for the Low-A Modesto Nuts last year.