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MLB Managers

MLB Managers: Five Young Skippers-in-Waiting

  • Manuel Gómez - East Coast Contributor & Podcast Director Manuel Gómez, East Coast Contributor & Podcast Director
  • November 16, 2020

Over the past few years, the turnover rate for MLB managers has increased. If this continues, which young skippers are primed for a spot?

Post-World Series, three former MLB managers filled the only jobs available this offseason. Alex Cora returned to his post as manager of the Red Sox, AJ Hinch took the opening in Detroit, and Tony La Russa came out of retirement to become the skipper of the White Sox.

In hiring this trio, the Tigers, White Sox and Red Sox passed on the assortment of young skippers-in-waiting who are very qualified for a manager’s job.

So, today we are going to highlight five individuals who should be considered when another vacancy appears. These are five Latinos with many years of experience whom any organization would be lucky to call their managers.

In no particular order, here they are:

Tony Diaz, Twins Third Base Coach

Tony Diaz began his coaching career for the Colorado Rockies affiliate the AZL Rockies in 2000. Since then, he has served multiple roles in the Rockies’ and later in the Twins’ organizations.

Before becoming manager of the Casper Rockies, Diaz was the team’s hitting coach for six years. He served as manager until 2012.

In his final season as manager of the Casper Rockies, Diaz led the team to a second-place finish with a 43-33 record and a playoff appearance. The following seasons, he began a five-year stretch as the team’s Development Supervisor.

After 17 years in the system, Diaz was promoted to first base coach of the MLB club. Just two years later, the Twins came calling, hiring him to be their third-base coach under Rocco Baldelli.

Joe Espada, Astros Bench Coach

Joe Espada was actually taken ahead of Jimmy Rollins by the Oakland A’s in the 1996 Draft. He would play 10 seasons in the Minors, five of them in Class AAA before beginning his coaching career. Espada spent his final playing season also serving as Assistant Coach of his alma mater the University of Mobile’s baseball program.

The next year, the Marlins hired Espada to be the hitting coach for the Greensboro Grasshoppers in 2006. He would then serve as hitting coach for the Jupiter Hammerheads in 2007 before becoming the Marlins’ Minor League coordinator from 2008-2009.

Espada was promoted to third base coach of the Marlins in 2010. He remained there through 2014, before going to the Yankees to serve in the same role and infield coach.

In between all of this, Espada coached the Puerto Rican National Team in the 2013 World Baseball Classic. Puerto Rico lost to the Dominican Republic in the Finals 3-0.

Espada now serves as the Astros’ bench coach alongside one of the greatest MLB managers ever, Dusty Baker. He has served in this role since the 2018 season.

Rodney Linares, Rays Third Base Coach

The son of Julio Linares, Rodney has been involved in the game in some capacity since the late 1990s, when he was a Minor League player. After suffering a knee injury, however, Rodney transitioned in to the world of coaching in the Astros’ system.

Eventually, Rodney was named manager of the Greeneville Astros in the Appalachian League. This began his 12-year career managing Minor League teams at every level.

All throughout, he demonstrated great acuity for the job. Across all of baseball, a number of players credit Rodney for their development and success. We’re talking guys like J.D. Martinez and Jose Altuve.

Once considered Baseball America’s top managerial prospect, Rodney is currently the third base coach for the AL champion Rays. His name has floated around whenever a managerial position opens up.

Carlos Mendoza, Yankees Bench Coach

Carlos Mendoza was also a Minor League player before transitioning into coaching. His first coaching job came in 2010 under the Yankees farm system as a coach for the Charleston RiverDogs.

From then until now, he has managed the GCL Yankees and the Charleston RiverDogs as well as the Scottsdale Scorpions in the Arizona Fall League. In 2018, the Yankees named him quality control coach. He also took over for Joe Espada as an infield coach.

In 2020, Mendoza was promoted to bench coach alongside Aaron Boone. Most recently, he was considered for the managerial opening with the Red Sox.

However, the Red Sox opted to bring back Alex Cora. Mendoza will now remain with the Yankees in the same role.

Luis Urueta, Diamondbacks Bench Coach

Luis Urueta’s career as a player spanned six years in the Diamondbacks and Cardinals’ farm systems. He also played in Independent leagues and in the Italian Baseball League.

He hung up his cleats in 2006 and transitioned into a coaching career in 2007 in the Diamondbacks’ farm system. Initially, between 2011-2015, he filled multiple roles between the DSL Diamondbacks, South Bend Silver Hawks, AZL Diamondbacks, and the Reno Aces.

He earned a name for himself while managing Colombia in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. That season, Colombia qualified for the tournament for the first time. Unfortunately, Colombia lost to the Dominican Republic in round one of the tournament.

Urueta was later promoted by the Diamondbacks as a coach for Spanish-speaking players. Now, he serves as the bench coach of the big league club.

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