Tigers Instructors Have Familiar Faces
DETROIT—While changes have been made at the top of the Tigers' minor league organizational chart, stability is generally the rule in the farm system.
All four full-season minor league teams return the same manager from last season, and just two of the eight coaches are new to their respective clubs. And while two teams have new coaches, both are familiar to the organization.
One coaching change is at high Class A Lakeland, where former Tiger Mike Maroth takes over as the pitching coach, joining hitting coach Larry Herndon. Maroth pitched in Detroit from 2002-07 and was 50-62 with the club, including a 21-loss season in 2003.
The other change is at low Class A West Michigan, where Scott Dwyer has been promoted from short-season Connecticut to become the Whitecaps' hitting coach, joining veteran pitching coach Mark Johnson. Prior to joining the Tigers, Dwyer spent two seasons with the Rangers and was a college and high school coach for 20 seasons.
As for the team's minor league managers, Phil Nevin returns to Triple-A Toledo, Chris Cron is back at Double-A Erie, Dave Huppert remains at Lakeland and Ernie Young returns to West Michigan. All four are in their second year at these positions.
The rest of the Mud Hens staff returns, including Leon "Bull" Durham for the 12th straight season, and pitching coach A.J. Sager. Erie's staff remains with pitching coach Ray Burris and hitting coach Jerry Martin.
Even with the loss of Dwyer, the coaching staff at Connecticut is familiar, as manager Andrew Graham and pitching coach Jorge Cordova, both holdovers, are joined by former Tiger Mike Rabelo, who was the hitting coach for Detroit's Rookie-level Gulf Coast League team last season.
The biggest changes at the minor league level this offseason came when the Tigers promoted Dave Owen from infield coordinator to farm director and brought Al Nipper into the organization to take over as minor league pitching coordinator.
• The Tigers will play an exhibition game against their Triple-A club in Toledo at Fifth Third Field on April 4. The game will be the team's first exhibition against one of its minor league clubs since the Tigers and Mud Hens met at Toledo's former home, Skeldon Stadium, in 2000.
• The Tigers extended their affiliation with Connecticut in the New York-Penn League through the 2014 season. The original agreement, which was struck in 2010, would have expired following the 2012 season.