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Rays biggest change for 2023: Coaching Staff

2023 WBC Workout Day Miami
Rodney Linares with Rays short stop Wander Franco during the WBC
Photo by Rob Tringali/WBCI/MLB Photos via Getty Images

The Rays 2023 roster will include a lot of the players we got to know in 2022, but there will be some men in uniform who will be new to Rays fans. The Rays coaching staff has gotten a major overhaul.

Kevin Cash — the second longest tenured manager in Major League Baseball, with only his managing mentor Terry Francona ahead of him by two seasons — returns for his ninth season in 2023. This year, as always, we’ve seen plenty of staff members getting poached from the Rays, so you’ll see some different faces surrounding him in the dugout.

First up is Rodney Linares, who has been promoted to Bench Coach following the departure of Matt Quatraro to manage the Royals. The move is well earned by Linares, who is currently managing the Dominican Republic in the WBC, and keeps a Spanish speaking coach at Kevin Cash’s right hand. Linares is entering his fifth season with the Rays.

Promoted to Third Base coach is Triple-A manager Brady Williams, continuing the Rays pipeline which has a long history of promotion through development in the minor league system. Taking over in Durham will be Michael Johns, who has served as the Rays’ Minor League Field Coordinator since 2018, and prior to that managed for the Rays for eight seasons for various A-ball affiliates.

The Rays also elevated Minor League catching coordinator and top internal coaching candidate Tomas Francisco to their big-league staff as Major League field coordinator, taking over for the departing Paul Hoover who served the last four seasons in that role. Hoover will be Quatraro’s bench coach with the Royals.

On the pitching side, there was a significant change as well following the retirement of long time bullpen coach and key pitching mind Stan Boroski, a secret weapon of the Rays coaching staff for 13 years.

Boroski will be replaced by Jorge Moncada, who is described as having “tremendous” pitching knowledge and a humble demeanor. Moncada’s promotion comes after nearly a decade in a Minor League pitching coordinator role. He first joined the Rays coaching system in 2006.

On a positive note, several of the new coaches from 2022 will remain on the staff, including first base coach Chris Prieto, assistant pitching coach Rick Knapp, and the two assistance hitting coaches Dan DeMent and Brady North. And of course Kyle Snyder has not (thank goodness!) left.

There have been several other shakeups in the minor league coaching staffs, including new names at manager at all but Double-A next season, and the openings are all through promotions.

Triple-A manager Johns previous position as one of two Field Coordinators in the system will be filled by 30-year old Blake Butera, who has managed the Low-A Riverdogs for the last two seasons. Like Tomas, he is seen as a rising star in the system, and as a likely future manager. His transition to a travelling role will expose him to players throughout the system and provide new opportunities for coaching. Double-A’s 31-year old hitting coach, Sean Smedley, will manage the Riverdogs in 2023.

Previous Triple-A manager (now Third Base coach) Williams’s predecessor, Jared Sandberg, returns to the Rays organization after working in the dugout for the Mariners and Padres. He will take over outfield coaching and baserunning in 2023 throughout the organization. For different reasons, he too will benefit from the ability to travel the Rays system and develop relationships throughout the organization, having departed for the Majors in 2019.

The remaining manager role change is at High-A, where Jeff Smith has been promoted to a system catching coordinator role. In his place 35-year old Rafael Valenzuela was promoted from his FL Complex League managing role. That managing role will be filled by former USF and University of Tampa hitting coach Frank Maldonado, who joined the Rays organization in 2020.

According to Marc Topkin, the notable external hires include:

Durham hitting coach Kenny Hook, previously with the Angels; Montgomery pitching coach Steve Merriman, from the University of Michigan; and complex league pitching coach Henry Bonilla, who was with a training facility in Fort Myers and previously with the Twins.