Detroit Tigers' 2021 minor-league coaches: Full staffs for Triple-A Toledo, Double-A Erie and more
One month after finalizing a new farm system structure, the Detroit Tigers have formulated coaching staffs for their eight minor league teams in the 2021 season.
Manager Tom Prince and hitting coach Mike Hessman are returning to Triple-A Toledo, the organization announced Tuesday. Steve Chase — who has worked 16 seasons in player development — is the Tigers' new MLB strength and conditioning coach.
With Prince and Hessman in Toledo, Doug Bochtler was named the pitching coach. He replaces Juan Nieves, who earned a promotion this offseason to become the Tigers' assistant pitching coach.
Bochtler was the San Diego Padres' bullpen coach from 2016-19. He pitched six years in the majors, including for the Tigers in 1998.
"It's in unison with some of the staff changes on the major-league side," Tigers vice president of player development Dave Littlefield said Tuesday. "Although I knew of Doug, I didn't know him personally. I know (Tigers manager) AJ Hinch worked with him in the past. He was familiar with a bunch of the people, including (roving pitching coordinator) AJ Sager.
"We interviewed a few people and felt strongly that Doug would be a good fit with his experience, both as a Major League pitcher and a bullpen coach in the past with San Diego. We're very happy to have him accept our offer."
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Double-A Erie is bringing back Arnie Beyeler as the team's manager, along with pitching coach Mark Johnson and Adam Melhuse. In West Michigan, former Tigers catcher Brayan Pena remains the manager. However, he gets to manage at the High-A level because of MLB's new organizational structure.
For the Whitecaps, Pena has pitching coach Willi Blair and hitting coach Bill Springman on his staff. In Lakeland, now the Low-A affiliate, Andrew Graham will continue as manager, joined by pitching coach Carlos Bohorquez and John Murrian.
"It was something we had to consider, just in regards to the previous Low-A vs. High-A, but we've got a versatile staff, and we have confidence in a lot of people," Littlefield said. "We feel good about the way we set it up, so it wasn't significantly difficult."
This crew — along with other coaches at the lower levels — is tasked with helping prospects transition to the majors, where the team has a new coaching staff led by Hinch, bench coach George Lombard, pitching coach Chris Fetter and hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh.
Last year, the minors were canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2021 minor-league season is expected to be delayed for the Double-A and Single-A levels to decrease the number of players in spring training and allow for proper health protocols.
On MLB Pipeline's Top 100 prospects list, the Tigers have five players: third baseman Spencer Torkelson (No. 4), right-hander Casey Mize (No. 5), righty Matt Manning (No. 20), outfielder Riley Greene (No. 25) and left-hander Tarik Skubal (No. 42).
"Feel very good about the level of talent, how advanced some of them are," Littlefield said about the 2020 draft class, headlined by Torkelson and catcher Dillon Dingler. "Anxious as can be to get games in to see it in person against competition. Hopefully, we'll see a bunch of that coming up soon. But I think we have a really strong crop there."
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Mize and Skubal made their MLB debuts in 2020. Although Manning is expected to start in Triple-A Toledo, he is expected to get called up at some point in 2021. Torkelson is slated to begin in High-A West Michigan, and Greene should get his first reps of the year in Double-A Erie.
Here are the staff members and coaches for the Tigers' eight minor-league teams in 2021:
Administration: Dave Littlefield (Vice President, Player Development), Kenny Graham (Director, Player Development), Dan Lunetta (Director, Minor League Operations), Cheryl Evans (Director, Minor League and Scouting Administration), David Allende (Coordinator, Player Development), Jim McKew (Coordinator, Player Development), Sharon Lockwood (International Player Programs Coordinator), Cristian Crespo (Minor League Video Coordinator), Alex Gonzalez (Minor League Video Coordinator), Jordan Wergiles (Minor League Analytics Coordinator), Wilfredo Crespo (Administrator, Dominican Academy), Jimmy Ortiz (Administrator, Dominican Academy), Patrick Saenz (Minor League Clubhouse Manager), Pete Mancuso (Assistant Minor League Clubhouse Manager).
On-Field Coordinators: Dave Owen (Field Coordinator), Rafael Martinez (Director, Latin American Player Development), Dan Hubbs (Director, Pitching Development and Strategy), AJ Sager (Pitching Coordinator), Jorge Cordova (Assistant Pitching Coordinator), Jeff Branson (Hitting Coordinator), Joel McKeithan (Hitting Coordinator), Francisco Contreras (Latin American Hitting Coordinator), Joe DePastino (Catching Coordinator), José Valentín (Infield Coordinator), Kimera Bartee (Outfield/Baserunning Coordinator).
Athletic Training, Strength/Conditioning and Performance Science: Corey Tremble (Minor League Medical Coordinator), Manny Peña (Assistant Minor League Medical Coordinator), Duncan Evans (Physical Therapist), Francisco Rivas (Minor League Strength and Conditioning Coordinator), Georgia Giblin (Director, Performance Science), Dr. Spencer Wood (Performance and Mental Skills Coach), Brian Peterson (Performance Enhancement Instructor), Brian Taggett (Latin American Performance Coach).
Manager: Tom Prince.
Pitching coach: Doug Bochtler.
Hitting coach: Mike Hessman.
Development coach: CJ Wamsley.
Athletic trainer: Jason Schwartzman.
Strength and conditioning coach: Dan Morrison.
Manager: Arnie Beyeler.
Pitching coach: Mark Johnson.
Hitting coach: Adam Melhuse.
Development coach: Tony Smith.
Athletic trainer: Chris Vick.
Strength and conditioning coach: Phil Hartt.
High-A West Michigan
Manager: Brayan Pena.
Pitching coach: Willie Blair.
Hitting coach: Bill Springman.
Development coach: Kevin Guthrie.
Athletic trainer: Cody Derby.
Strength and conditioning coach: Ryan Maedel.
Manager: Andrew Graham.
Pitching coach: Carlos Bohorquez.
Hitting coach: John Murrian.
Development coach: Ollie Kadey.
Athletic trainer: Sean McFarland.
Strength and conditioning coach: Dax Fiore.
Complex League 1 (Rookie)
Manager: Ryan Minor.
Pitching coach: Mike Alvarez.
Hitting coach: Tim Garland.
Development coach: N/A
Athletic trainer: Erick Flores.
Strength and conditioning coach: OPEN.
Complex League 2 (Rookie)
Manager: Gary Cathcart.
Pitching coach: Santiago Garrido.
Hitting coach: Rafael Gil.
Development coach: N/A.
Athletic trainer: Juan Pena.
Strength and conditioning coach: Andres Rivera.
Dominican Summer League 1 (Rookie)
Manager: Ramon Zapata.
Pitching coach: Willians Moreno.
Hitting coach: Jose Ovalles.
Developmental coach: Sandy Acevedo, Ivan Contreras.
Athletic trainer: Gabe Garcia.
Strength and conditioning coach: Franklin Galvez.
Dominican Summer League 2 (Rookie)
Manager: Marcos Yepez.
Pitching coach: Luis Marte.
Hitting coach: Kely Ramos, Luis Mateo.
Development coach: Carmelo Jamie.
Athletic trainer: Allan Chase.
Strength and conditioning coach: Luis Rodriguez, Rafael Suero.
Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.