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Royals announce minor league coaching staffs for 2021

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Hopefully they get their chance to coach this year.

Omaha manager Brian Poldberg
Minda Haas Kuhlmann

The Royals announced their 2021 minor league coaching staff on Friday, with most of the same coaches returning from last year’s non-season. One big addition is former Royals third base coach Mike Jirschele joining the staff at High-A Quad Cities as a bench coach.

Omaha manager Brian Poldberg returns for his eighth season, assisted by hitting coach Brian Buchanan. Dane Johnson will begin his first year as pitching coach after previously serving as a bullpen coach and roving pitching instructor in the Blue Jays organization, and joining the Royals organization last year.

Scott Thorman will manage the Double-A Northwest Arkansas Naturals for his first full season after being tabbed for the job last year. Thorman won minor league championships with Lexington in 2018 and Wilmington in 2019. Abraham Nunez will serve as hitting coach and Derrick Lewis serves his first season as pitching coach after joining the organization last year following 16 years in the Braves organization.

Chris Widger leads the new High-A affiliate in Quad Cities after winning an Appalachian League title in 2019 with Burlington. Jirschele, who served as a special assistant last year and has extensive experience as a minor league coach, will serve as bench coach. Steve Luebber serves as pitching coach in his 16th year with the organization and Fort Scott, Kansas native Andy LaRoche serve as hitting coach.

Brooks Conrad will lead the new Low-A affiliate in Columbia, South Carolina, after winning a title in 2019 with Lexington. Jesus Azuaje will serve as hitting coach, Glenn Hubbard will serve as bench coach, and Carlos Martinez will serve as pitching coach.

The Arizona Summer League team will be managed by Omar Ramirez, who is in his 13th year with the organization. The team will have three pitching coaches, all of whom were once pitchers in the Royals organization - Mark Davis, John Habyan, and Julio Pimentel. Andre David, who once served as hitting coach for the Major League club, and Ramon Castro will serve as hitting coaches for the Arizona squad. Chris Nelson and Kevin Kuntz - son of Rusty - will also serve as coaches.

The Royals will have two teams in the Dominican Summer League, managed by Ramon Martinez and Sergio de Luna. Rafael Feliz and Jose Veras will serve as pitching coaches while Evaristo Lantigua and former Royals infielder Wilson Betemit - whose son Wilson, Jr. recently signed with the organization - will serve as hitting coaches. Miguel Bernard (catching), Quilvio Veras (bunting and baserunning), Onil Joseph (outfield) and Fernando Martinez (outfield) will also serve on the staff.

Former Royals catcher and manager John Wathan will spend his 46th year with the organization as a special assistant. Also serving in an advisory role will be Rafael Belliard, Chino Cadahia, and Harry Spilman. The Royals will have three minor league directors - Alec Zumwalt (hitting/player development), Paul Gibson (pitching), and John Wagle (performance science/player development). J.C. Boscan, Eddie Rodriguez, Damon Hollins, Jason Simontacci, Drew Saylor, Victor Baez, Dave Ianicca, Justin Hahn, Jarret Abell, and Rustin Sveum will serve as minor league coordinators. Derrick Robinson, Jeff Suppan, Mitch Stetter, Keoni DeRenne, Mike Tosar, Tony Medina, and Phil Falco will work as assistant minor league coordinators.