Joining Wilson for another stint in Wilmington is pitching coach Steve Luebber, trainer James Stone and conditioning coach Adam Vish. Julio Bruno is the lone new addition to the Blue Rocks staff and will serve as the team's hitting coach.
Wilson directed the Blue Rocks to a 66-74 record in 2012 and a second-half Carolina League Northern Division championship. He helped engineer a remarkable second-half surge. After finishing the first half 12 games under .500, the Blue Rocks won 37 of their final 70 contests, on their way to the organization's first postseason appearance since 2009.
Known for his aggressive style, Wilson stresses fundamentals and playing the game the right way, which were the same traits that served him well during an eight-year career in the Majors. Wilson was drafted by the New York Mets as a junior college All-American in 1993 and made his big league debut six seasons later. He played for a playoff team in Detroit and came to the Royals organization in 2009. Wilson made his managerial debut in 2011 with the Royals' then Class A affiliate in Kane County.
Luebber is back for his seventh straight season as the Blue Rocks pitching coach, the longest tenure for any coach in team history. Under his tutelage a season ago, Wilmington pitchers posted a solid 3.74 ERA. The 63-year-old Joplin, Mo., native spent parts of five seasons as a hurler in the Majors with the Twins, Blue Jays and Orioles. He came within one out of tossing a no-hitter for Minnesota in 1976, and also participated in the famed Pawtucket-Rochester game that lasted 33 innings in 1981. Luebber has worked as a pitching coach in the Miami, Baltimore, San Diego and Texas organizations prior to joining the Royals.
Bruno comes to Wilmington from Class A Kane County, where he held the same position on a Cougars team that finished the season with a 68-72 mark in 2012. Bruno's hitters put the bat on the ball, registering the fifth-fewest strikeouts in the 16-team Midwest League. He has managerial experience in his background, including a successful six-year stint as the skipper of the Dominican Royals, where His teams went 141-47 from 2004-2006. He posted a career .278 average during an 11-year playing career that included three seasons in Triple-A.
Stone and Vish will combine to form the Blue Rocks' support staff for the second consecutive season. Stone was the New York-Penn League Trainer of the Year in 2006 and has spent seven seasons in professional baseball with the Royals, Marlins and Orioles organizations. Vish came to the Royals in 2010, after serving as the strength and conditioning coach at Carnegie Mellon University.
The Blue Rocks begin their 2013 season on April 5 in Myrtle Beach. After a six-game road trip, the Rocks return to Wilmington for the home opener on Friday, April 12 at 7:05 p.m. Group tickets and mini plans for the 2013 campaign are on sale now by visiting bluerocks.com online.