The Orioles could be busier reconstructing the minor league side of the operation than the majors, with a bunch of hires and shuffling in the cards.
At this point, we know they need a new Triple-A manager and pitching coach, hitting coaches at Single-A Aberdeen and Delmarva, and a manager for one of the Rookie-level Florida Complex League entries.
There could be other changes that haven’t been revealed.
Buck Britton is expected to move up to Norfolk, which would create a vacancy at Double-A Bowie.
Alan Mills climbed the ladder in the organization following his retirement as a reliever. He rose from pitching coach at short-season Single-A Aberdeen in 2012-13 to low Single-A Delmarva in 2014 and Bowie in 2015-16.
The Orioles promoted Mills to bullpen coach, a role he handled for two seasons. The staff was overhauled, of course, under the new regime, and the Orioles reassigned Mills to his first managerial gig in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League.
Mills was named GCL Manager of the Year in 2019, but stayed at his Lakeland, Fla., home in 2020 after the cancellation of the minor league season due to COVID-19. He wasn’t part of the instructional staff at the alternate camp site or fall instructional camp.
Fans in Baltimore first connected with Mills after the 1992 trade with the Yankees. He went 10-4 with a 2.61 ERA in 35 games and a career-high 103 1/3 innings in his first season. But his popularity soared over the years because of his intimidating presence on the mound and whenever dugouts and bullpens emptied for skirmishes - and especially the 10-minute brawl that Armando Benítez incited at Yankee Stadium in 1998, when Mills decked Darryl Strawberry in the visitors’ dugout.
It seemed appropriate that Mills returned to the Orioles for the final two seasons of his career before retiring.
Mills passed along the following message this week:
“I just want to thank the fans of the Baltimore Orioles for embracing me over the course of my 18 years with the franchise. Birdland is a special place and I was privileged to call it my second home for so many years. I am truly grateful for your support and well wishes.”
Mills could stay in the game - he carries an impressive resume - but I get the sense that he’d be fine for now doing something else with his life.
* The Orioles broke ground yesterday on their new, state-of-the-art training academy in Guerra, Dominican Republic.
The club was represented by chairman and CEO John Angelos, executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias and senior director of international scouting Koby Perez.
Also in attendance were Dominican Republic president Luis Abinader, D.R. minister of sports Francisco Camacho Rivas and D.R. commissioner of baseball Junior Noboa.
The 22.5-acre complex will be home to the Orioles’ regional facility for Caribbean, Central and South American player development operations, and includes three full fields, a sports turfed agility field, batting and pitching tunnels, administrative buildings, dormitories and educational facilities.
The complex will house more than 100 players, coaches and staff, and provide dormitory-style rooms and entertainment spaces. There will be three classrooms and a computer lab for on-site learning and an education plan for each player.
The setup also comes with a dining room that offers daily nutritious meals.
The timetable for completion is 12-16 months.
“We have made tremendous strides over the last couple of years in establishing our international presence and revamping our baseball operations infrastructure, and this project may be the most momentous step yet,” Elias said in a statement.
“International scouting and player development are critical to the future success of the Orioles, and baseball as a whole. This new academy will be the Latin American home of the Orioles, and once completed, we expect it to be one of the finest training facilities in the Dominican.”
Orioles alumni in attendance yesterday included Ubaldo Jiménez, Melvin Mora, Miguel Tejada, Félix Pié, Daniel Cabrera and Radhames Liz.
The Orioles and the Oriole Advocates teamed up to provide youth baseball equipment, including gloves and bats, and team apparel to Escuela Básica Carmen Dilia Ortiz and the Los Prospectos Little League team.
“This partnership group continues to execute the long-term plan announced in the fall of 2018 to invest and reinvest in baseball facilities, technology, front office research and expertise, and player talent,” Angelos said in a statement.
“Our organization’s capital commitment to the Dominican Republic is yet another demonstration of our confident long view of the value of MLB, Orioles, and Camden Yards brand platforms. As we continue to invest and give back across Maryland and Florida, we see this as another opportunity to make a difference internationally in the Dominican community as we strengthen the future of Orioles baseball.”