The player development staff for the Cleveland Indians organization was announced on Monday with several familiar faces returning in key roles for the club for the 2016 season.
The Indians have retained Chris Tremie (Triple-A Columbus), Dave Wallace (Double-A Akron), and Mark Budzinski (Class-A Advanced Lynchburg) in the same capacities as last season. In a new role for the organization, Tony Mansolino will take over the managerial duties in Lake County, replacing Shaun Larkin, who joined the Los Angeles Dodgers organization as their Coordinator of Skill Development following the season. Former Major League manager Edwin Rodriguez will manage the Class-A short-season Mahoning Valley Scrappers, replacing Travis Fryman, who remains with the organization as an advisor.
Fryman is joined by former players and coaches Johnny Goryl, Minnie Mendoza, and Tim Tolman as advisors on the club. Tim Belcher, Travis Hafner, and Robby Thompson return with the club as special assistants.
Notable and recognizable additions in the coordinator ranks are former Indians players John McDonald and Bruce Chen.
McDonald will work as the Indians new Infield Coordinator. Per a press release from the Indians, McDonald’s role will be that of a “primary resource to Minor League coaches in the implementation and monitoring of individual infielder player plans”. After his 16-year MLB career, McDonald worked last season as a Special Assistant to Player Development.
Chen will be the club’s new Cultural Development Coordinator after ending his eleven-team, 17-year MLB career last May with the Indians. The same release indicated that Chen’s role will be to “assist all organizational players in the transition to professional baseball with a particular focus on Latin-born players”.
Tremie will have a pair of new coaches with him, joining the returning Rouglas Odor. Steve Karsay will work as the pitching coach in Columbus, replacing Tony Arnold, and former MLB catcher Omir Santos is on the staff as a coach. Santos spent parts of five seasons in the Majors from 2008 to 2013 and was 0-for-1 in his lone game with the Indians in 2013. He played 62 games for the Clippers that season and eleven games with the Indianapolis Indians (Pittsburgh’s Triple-A affiliate) in 2014.
Wallace returns to Akron for a third season with a new hitting coach in tow, but a familiar one to the Indians organization. Tim Laker returns to the club after spending the last five years as a coach and a hitting coordinator in the Chicago White Sox farm system. He spent eleven years in the Majors, including four with the Indians (2001, 2003-04, 2006). Arnold joins Wallace’s staff as the team’s pitching coach.
Budzinski will have two new coaches by his side in Lynchburg in his second season with the club. Larry Day will take on the role of hitting coach after working in the same position at Lake County. Rigo Beltran will work as the club’s pitching coach after previous experience in the same role with the team’s rookie league squad in Arizona. He spent parts of four MLB seasons with five different clubs from 1997 to 2004 as a pitcher.
Mansolino, who has been with the organization for the past five years as a coach with the Class-A teams, will be joined by a new staff at Lake County, headlined by former MLB pitcher and pitching coaching Steve McCatty. The 61-year-old spent nine seasons in the Majors with the Oakland Athletics from 1977 to 1985, leading the league in wins, ERA, and shutouts while finishing second in the Cy Young voting in the 1981 strike-shortened campaign. He has worked seven seasons as the pitching coach for the Washington Nationals after three seasons with the Detroit Tigers. The future Captains hitting coach is still to be announced.
Rodriguez replaces Fryman at Mahoning Valley. He spent parts of two seasons as the manager of the Florida Marlins in 2010 and 2011. He previously coached at the minor league level with the Indians for the Carolina Mudcats in 2012 and Akron Aeros in 2013. He is joined by returning hitting coach Kevin Howard and new pitching coach Tighe Dickinson.
Photo: Chuck Crow/The Plain Dealer