Short-Season Coaching Staff Notes

Brooklyn (A) of the New York-Penn League
Manager: Rich Donnelly
Pitching Coach: Frank Viola
Hitting Coach: Bobby Malek
Trainer: Kiyoshi Tada
Strength Coach: Allison Salter

I touched on this staff when it was first announced at the end of January, but the striking thing is the very experienced Donnelly shepherding Viola, taking his first shot at coaching professionals with Malek, who’s been working his way through the Mets organization a level a year as a hitting coach moving from the GCL to Kingsport to Brooklyn.
The other thing is that this team will have a female strength and conditioning coach.  I can’t recall ever seeing that before although Deb Iwanow has been a trainer in the Mets organization for a few years now.

Kingsport (R) of the Appalachian League
Manager: Frank Fultz
Pitching Coach: Jonathan Hurst
Hitting Coach: Luis Rivera
Trainer: Margaret Rall
Strength Coach: Roderick Richard

– Frank Fultz worked as the Mets Rehabilitation Pitching Coordinator last year after serving as the GCL pitching coach in 2009.  Before joining the Mets, he served as a strength and conditioning coach for the Braves for 17 years.  He’s worked in pro-ball as a strength coach for the Astros and Pirates 1986-91.  He was the head coach at Texas Wesleyan College for six years and took that team to the NAIA DII championship in each year, and also worked as a pitching coach at Triton College (’76-’77) and George Mason (’78).
– Hurst is back in Kingsport for his second straight year.  He was in Savannah in ’07 and ’08, but was sent to the GCL in ’09.  I’ve heard the team values his teaching abilities and his work with young hurlers.
– Rivera made the transition from player to coach in the middle of last season.  He hit .217/.250/.233 in 21 games for the Gnats in the first half of last year at age 26 while playing all over the diamond including a few games at first, second, third, short.  Essentially, he was an additional coach on the field.  I’m a big fan of Rivera’s.  I know he spent plenty of time last summer working with Aderlin Rodriguez on his defense at third.

GCL Mets (R) of the Gulf Coast League
Manager: Luis Rojas
Pitching Coach: Mark Brewer
Hitting Coach: Yunir Garcia
Coach: Joel Fuentes (Second Half)
Trainer: Eric Velazquez
Strength Coach: Eugene Dalid

– Rojas was the fourth coach on the Gnats last season, so it’s nice to see him get his own team as he enters his fifth season with the organization.  Rojas, Felipe Alou’s son, was the manager of the Marlins’ DSL team in 2006.  Expect to see him rise steadily through the Mets organization.
– Brewer’s the veteran voice on this staff, having been in AA last year.  He’s been a Rehab Coordinator for the Pirates (2009), the Latin American Pitching Coordinator for the Mets (2008) while working as the AAA pitching coach, a coach in AAA for the Royals and the Dodgers Minor League Pitching Coordinator from 2001-2004.
– This is the first stateside assignment for Yunir Garcia who managed the Mets’ DSL2 team last year.  It was his first managerial experience after working as a coach for the team’s VSL affiliate in ’08 & ’09.  Garcia, a minor league catcher, reached AAA with the Mets for nine games in 2006.  All told, he was a career .204/.340/.317 hitter in three VSL seasons and five US based seasons.

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