Cardinals announce minor league coaching and player development assignments

Tony Cruz, who spent five of his seven major league seasons wearing a Cardinals uniform, has rejoined the organization as a minor league catching instructor.
Jeff Curry/Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Cardinals announced their minor league coaching staffs — as well as player development and medical personnel assignments — for the 2019 season on Friday, and several familiar names will be joining the organization or receiving new assignments.

The Cardinals announced five new managerial assignments for 2019, but will have incumbent pitching coaches at all nine of their minor league affiliates.  In addition, the team has announced seven new hitting coach assignments for 2019.

Memphis native and former major leaguer Ben Johnson, a fourth-round selection by the Cardinals in the 1999 draft, will be entering his first season as manager at Memphis after most recently coaching with the Durham Bulls, the Triple-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays, in 2018. Joe Kruzel will pilot Springfield after two seasons at the helm in State College, while Dan Bilardello (Palm Beach), Roberto Espinoza (Johnson City), Fray Peniche (DSL Blue) and John Matos (DSL Red) return to their respective teams. Erick Almonte moves to Peoria as manager, and both Jose Leon (State College) and Joshua Lopez (GCL Cardinals) have been promoted to managers.

Several of the team’s minor league field instructors have been retained. Chris Swauger, however, will move into a new role as assistant field coordinator under field coordinator Mark DeJohn, and Johnny Rodriguez will serve as minor league infield instructor. Two members of the Cardinals’ 2018 major league staff will join the player development staff for 2019: former third-base coach Jose Oquendo was recently announced as minor league roving instructor, while former hitting coach George Greer will serve as minor league offensive strategist. Former Cardinals catcher Tony Cruz has been named minor league catching instructor.

The following is a complete listing of the Cardinals’ 2019 minor league staffs and player development assignments:

Club Manager Pitching Coach Hitting Coach
Memphis (AAA) Ben Johnson Dernier Orozco Jobel Jimenez
Springfield (AA) Joe Kruzel Darwin Marrero Brandon Allen
Palm Beach (A+) Dann Bilardello Will Ohman Tyger Pederson
Peoria (A) Erick Almonte Cale Johnson Russ Chambliss
State College (short-season A) Jose Leon Adrian Martin Cody Gabella
Johnson City (R) Roberto Espinoza Rick Harig Brian Burgamy
GCL Cardinals (R) Joshua Lopez Giovanni Carrara Joe Hawkins
DSL Cardinals 1 Fray Peniche Billy Villanueva Ismael Castro
DSL Cardinals 2 John Matos Renee Cortez Nabo Martinez

2019 Cardinals minor league field instructors and medical staff

Field Coordinator Mark DeJohn
Assistant Field Coordinator Chris Swauger
Latin America Field Coordinator Jose Leger
Senior Pitching Coordinator Tim Leveque
Minor League Offensive Strategist George Greer
Minor League Pitching Instructor Randy Niemann
Minor League Roving Instructor Jose Oquendo
Minor League Infield Instructor Johnny Rodriguez
Minor League Catching Instructor Tony Cruz
Minor League Medical Coordinator


Keith Joint

Minor League Rehab Coordinator Matt Leonard
Minor League Strength & Conditioning Coordinator Aaron Rhodes
Minor League Performance Specialist DC MacLea
Minor League Asst. Rehab Coordinator Victor Kuri
Minor League Rehab Consultant James Spencer
DSL Medical Director Pedro Betancourt
DSL Head Strength & Conditioning Jeremy Lezama

Trainers & strength coaches: Memphis – Matt Corvo & Frank Witkowski; Springfield – Dan Martin & Dan Vega; Palm Beach – Chris Whitman & Ross Hasegawa; Peoria – Chris Walsh & Kyle Richter; State College – Joe Olsiewicz & Don Trapp; Johnson City – Alex Wolfinger & TBD; GCL Cardinals – TBD & Cory Ritter; DSL Blue – Shoki Hioki & TBD; DSL Red – TBD & Luis Polanco.