The Orioles announced their minor league staff for the 2014 season yesterday and the eight men that managed in the minors last year all return to the organization.
As noted yesterday, low Single-A Delmarva and high Single-A Frederick are basically switching managers with Ryan Minor headed back to Delmarva where he managed from 2010-12 and Luis Pujols taking over at Frederick.
Director of player development Brian Graham said this was the best fit for the Orioles in terms of putting the best manager at each level in anticipating which players will be going to which teams.
“With Ryan Minor, he’s a real good teacher and instructor, and with the group of players we have coming to that level, I feel strongly that he’s a good candidate to teach those kids and a good candidate for the development process in Delmarva,” Graham said.
“Luis Pujols is a good manager of players and Frederick is the best level for him for 2014. Come 2015, depending which players go in which direction, all of this could change.”
Graham noted the club is very excited that Ron Johnson will be returning to manage Triple-A Norfolk and Gary Kendall is back at Double-A Bowie. The O’s feel their top level minor leaguers are in pretty good hands.
“We’re very lucky to have both R.J. and Gary,” Graham said. “Gary made tremendous strides this past year as a manger. The Arizona Fall League was a great experience for him.
“R.J. does a great job at Triple-A and we have Mike Griffin there with Denny Walling and Jose Hernandez coming back. That kind of continuity is only going to make us better.”
You can tell Graham is excited that former Oriole Jeff Manto has joined the staff as coordinator of minor league hitting instruction.
“Manto is one of the best hitting instructors in all of baseball - major league or minor league. He has tremendous passion and has a great understanding of hitting and a very good feel for players,” Graham said.
Here are more notes from some of the individual affiliate press releases on their 2014 staffs:
* Johnson led the Tides to a 77-67 record in 2013 - Norfolk’s best mark since the 2005 season and the first time the Tides have had back-to-back winning campaigns since three straight from 1995-97. For the second straight year, Johnson also joined the Orioles coaching staff after the conclusion of the Triple-A season.
* In 19 seasons as a minor league manager, Johnson has compiled a career record of 1,412-1,399, and his 1,412 wins rank sixth among active minor league skippers.
* Kendall becomes the first manager in Bowie franchise history to return for a fourth season with the team as he begins his 15th season in the Orioles organization. In three seasons at the Baysox helm, Kendall has a 221-201 record and he led the team to the playoffs in 2012. The skipper is also coming off an Arizona Fall League championship, where he managed the Surprise Saguaros this past fall.
* Minor enters the season 45 wins shy of becoming the winningest manager in Shorebirds franchise history. Joe Ferguson, who managed Delmarva from 2000-02, won a franchise record 211 games. The 2014 season will mark his sixth season on the Shorebirds coaching staff.
“I am excited for the opportunity to return to Delmarva for the upcoming season,” said Minor. “Getting to work in my hometown close to my family and the people of the Delmarva peninsula that have been great to me over the years is something I look forward to.”
* Matt Merullo returns for his second season after a successful inaugural season in Aberdeen in 2013. Merullo guided the IronBirds to a 40-32 record, a McNamara Division championship and the first playoff berth in team history. A hitting coach for the IronBirds will be announced at a later date.
By the way, I noticed that B.J. Surhoff was not listed among the O’s minor league staff for 2014. Surhoff is still expected to be on that staff this season, traveling throughout the system and working with players, even if no announcement has come yet on his official addition. Plans are still in place for Surhoff to work in the O’s minors in 2014.
Finally today, who is the face of the Orioles’ franchise? According to MLB Network’s poll for its Hot Stove show, it is Adam Jones.
Here is how their fan voting broke down:
46 percent - Adam Jones
20 percent - Manny Machado
9 percent - Chris Davis
4 percent - Cal Ripken Jr.
3 percent - Nick Markakis
Feel free to leave any questions and/or comments on the O’s minors here today. Also leave some of your own thoughts on which player or person is the face of the O’s franchise.