The changes coming to the Orioles organization will affect the minor league system, including the decision to bring in a new Triple-A manager.
Ron Johnson won’t return for an eighth season with the Norfolk Tides, with multiple sources confirming the Orioles’ decision to move in another direction. Johnson is free to accept any offer that appeals to him.
Also, special assistant Matt Haas, East Coast scouting supervisor Kirk Fredriksson, area scout Dana Duquette and director of Dominican baseball operations Nelson Norman won’t return next season, according to sources. Duquette is the son of former Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette, who was told following the season that his contract wouldn’t be renewed.
The longest tenured manager in the International League, Johnson guided Norfolk to a 69-71 record in 2018 and a 491-511 mark over seven seasons. The 2015 Tides won the South Division and Johnson was named the league’s Manager of the Year.
Johnson received the Cal Ripken Sr. Player Development Award in 2015 and 2018. The award is named for the late coach and manager who’s widely regarded as the architect of “The Oriole Way.” Twelve players on Norfolk’s roster this summer made their major league debuts.
Johnson began his professional baseball coaching career in 1986 in the Royals organization. He served as the Red Sox’s first base coach in 2010 and 2011 before returning to managing with the Tides in 2012.
Other changes could be in the works with the possibility that the Orioles promote Double-A Bowie manager Gary Kendall as Johnson’s replacement. Kendall completed his 19th season in the organization and his eighth managing the Baysox.
Kendall led Bowie to its first Eastern League championship in 2015 and a return to the playoffs in 2017. He’s regarded as an excellent teacher, and those skills could be desirable at a higher level as the Orioles embark on their rebuild.
The final decision could rest with the new hires in the front office, making it impossible to project exactly what’s in store.
Brian Graham serves as director of player development and is handling the day-to-day duties in the baseball operations department, but the Orioles will hire a president of baseball operations, who in turn will choose a general manager and manager.The Norfolk staff includes pitching coach Mike Griffin, hitting coach Butch Davis and field coach José Hernandez. There’s no word yet on whether they return in 2019.
The Orioles haven’t announced Johnson’s departure or any other moves concerning personnel with expiring contracts.
Update: Others not returning next season include senior advisor Joe McIlvaine and special assignment scout Wayne Britton, according to sources.
McIlvaine was included among the contingent that attended the Oct. 3 workout for Victor Victor Mesa, Victor Mesa Jr. and Sandy Gastón.