After the 2020 minor league baseball season was canceled due to COVID-19 and the hope for something close to a real minor league season in 2021, the Mariners announced their player development staff Wednesday, including coaching staffs for their four affiliates.
Andy McKay, the Mariners director of player development, had to fill several vacancies this offseason after opting to not renew the contracts of the managers of three affiliates — Daren Brown (Triple A Tacoma), Dave Berg (Double A Arkansas) and Denny Hocking (Class A Modesto) — and losing hitting coordinator Hugh Quattlebaum to the New York Mets.
McKay’s player development staff features nine positions:
- Minor league field coordinator — Tony Arnerich
- Hitting coordinator — Connor Dawson
- Pitching coordinator — Max Weiner
- Special assignment coach — Alvin Davis
- Special assignment coach — Dan Wilson
- Special assignment coach — Mike Cameron
- Special assignment coach — Franklin Gutierrez
- Latin American Field Coordinator — Cesar Nicolas
- Coordinator of pitching strategy — Ari Ronick
Davis is the longest tenured coach, entering his 11th season with the organization. Dawson was promoted into Quattlebaum’s position after serving as a hitting strategist last season. Ronick moves to a new position after serving as pitching coach for Class A Everett last season. After helping out at spring training as an invited coach, Gutierrez gets an official title this season. The former Mariners center fielder will work in both the U.S. and at the team’s academy in the Dominican Republic.
The Mariners will have first-time managers at their two highest minor league affiliates with Kristopher Negron leading Triple-A Tacoma and Collin Cowgill working as manager Double-A Arkansas.
Negron, who retired after the 2019 season, spent last season as an assistant to McKay in player development. He coached at spring training and ran the team’s alternate training site in Tacoma. He played for five different organizations over six seasons at the MLB level, including a handful of games with the Mariners in 2018 and 2019.
Cowgill participated in MLB spring training with the Mariners in 2020 on a minor league contract and then decided to retire from playing. He played in parts of six MLB seasons with five different organizations.
Louis Boyd returns to manage the affiliate in Everett. But instead of participating in a short-season summer league, the AquaSox will play at the full-season Advanced Class A level. Eric Farris moves from hitting coach for the West Virginia Power, which is no longer in minor league baseball, to manage Class A Modesto.
Tacoma Rainiers (Class AAA Pacific Coast League)
- Manager: Kris Negron
- Hitting coach: Roy Howell
- Pitching coach: Rob Marcello
- Coach: Eric Young Jr.
About the staff: Both Howell and Marcello return from the Rainiers’ 2020 staff. Young retired from playing after the 2020 season. He played in parts of 10 MLB seasons, appearing in 651 games. He played the 2019 season with Tacoma.
Arkansas Travelers (Class AA Southern League)
- Manager: Collin Cowgill
- Hitting coach: Joe Thurston
- Pitching coach: Alon Leichman
- Coach: Ryan McLaughlin
About the staff: Thurston served as the interim first base coach for the Mariners in 2020 when the organization asked Perry Hill to coach remotely due to his age and concerns with COVID-19. Thurston was slated to fill the role of hitting coach for Arkansas in 2020 before the season was canceled.
Everett AquaSox (Advanced A Northwest League)
- Manager: Louis Boyd
- Hitting coach: Shawn O’Malley
- Pitching coach: Sean McGrath
- Coach: Jose Umbria
About the staff: Boyd served as a coach in summer camp and at the team’s alternate training site in 2020. Sean McGrath was hired out of Elon University to serve as a pitching coach last season. He ran a pitching camp for young Mariners prospects in North Carolina during baseball’s shutdown. O’Malley, a former Mariners utility player and native of the Tri-Cities, is considered a rising star in the M’s coaching ranks.
Modesto Nuts (Class A Cal League)
- Manager: Eric Farris
- Hitting coach: Rob Benjamin
- Pitching coach: Nathan Bannister
- Coach: Geoff Jimenez
About the staff: Benjamin and Bannister return to the roles they were slated for in 2020. Jimenez comes to the Mariners after working in the Phillies organization.
Peoria Mariners (Arizona Rookie League)
- Manager: Austin Knight
- Hitting coach: Michael Fransoso
- Pitching coach: Yoel Monzon
- Coach: Zac Livingston
About the staff: Knight served as the manager for the Dominican Summer League Mariners in 2019. Monzon returns as pitching coach while Michael Fransoso will be the team’s hitting coach. Zac Livingston, who was Arizona’s manager last year, will serve as coach.
DSL Mariners (Dominican Summer League)
- Manager: Luis Caballero
- Hitting coach: Brett Schneider
- Pitching coach: Jose Amancio
- Coach: Juan Pimentel, Gaudy Jabalera
About the staff: This is Caballero’s sixth season in the Mariners organization, but his first as manager for the DSL team. He spent the last four seasons as a coach at the Mariners academy in the Dominican Republic. Schneider and Amancio return to their same positions from 2020 while Pimentel and Jabalera enter their first year with the Mariners.
The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.