After managing the Tulsa Drillers for the past two years, Duane Espy is looking forward to serving in a new role with the club this season. He will be the Supervisor of Double A Development, a new position created by the Colorado Rockies. Espy talked about his different role and the upcoming season during a recent visit to ONEOK Field.
The supervisor positions have been created by the Rockies at each of their minor league levels to help with player development. In the position, Espy will be with the Drillers throughout the season, attending both home and road games. He will work closely with new manager Kevin Riggs and the rest of the coaching staff.
Espy, who has won 994 regular season games as a minor league manager, admits that not being in the dugout on a daily basis will be a tough adjustment, but it is a challenge that he is looking forward to.
"Being in the dugout is the best part of baseball," he said. "Managing is as close as you can get to being in the middle of things without actually. That is definitely going to be different for me, but the thought that I may be able to affect more people is exciting. I have the chance to have a bigger and more positive impact on more people as we try to prepare players to play at the major league level."
As a supervisor, Espy will be on the field each day for pre-game batting practice. Similar to a scout, he will likely watch most games from the stands.
"In pre-game I will be an extra coach on the field," he said. "But I will also be here to supervise what we are trying to accomplish with the development of each individual player. I will be another set of eyes to evaluate what we are doing so that we can efficiently get things done. That is almost impossible to do while you are trying to manage a game from the dugout."
Espy anticipates his transition will go smoothly because of the Tulsa staff that he will be working alongside. Riggs was Tulsa's hitting coach last year and will be serving as a manager for the first time. Pitching coach Darryl Scott is moving to Tulsa from Single A Modesto, while hitting coach Darin Everson is new to the Rockies organization.
"I worked with Kevin last year, so it is going to be a similar situation for us," Espy said. "He has a great knowledge of the game. He was who I bounced most my ideas off of, so we have that relationship." He chuckled, "The only difference will be that Kevin will now have to figure things out during the game instead of me."
"I have also worked with Darryl Scott in the past and he is a bright pitching coach who will bring a lot of positive energy to our pitching staff. I had the opportunity to meet Darin Everson when he came to Denver to interview with the Rockies. He is a bright guy who has managed and coached at all levels and is very passionate."
Espy thinks the staff makeup will create a good situation for the Drillers. "I really see a staff that will interact with each other and have a lot of fun," he said. "That atmosphere will hopefully translate to the players."
As for the players the staff will be working with at ONEOK Field this season, Espy admitted that it is difficult to speculate on the roster at this point. Most of the positions will not be determined until deep into spring training.
Two players that fans should expect to see in Tulsa during some part of the 2013 season are outfielders Kyle Parker and Rafael Ortega. The pair spent last year with Modesto and both enjoyed successful seasons in the California League.
Parker played in 102 games for the Nuts, hitting .308 with 23 home runs and 73 runs batted in while being named a CAL League All-Star.
Ortega batted .283 and led the team with 36 stolen bases and 8 triples.
"Ortega and Parker both had big seasons in the California League," said Espy. "Ortega even got a few at-bats in the big leagues at the end of the season with the Rockies."
Another player with a chance to make the jump to Double A is shortstop Christian Adames (uh-DAHM-us). At only 21, Adames enjoyed a successful season at Modesto. Like Parker and Ortega, he was recently named on of the Rockies Top 20 Minor League Prospects by MLB.com.
There has also been speculation among media outlets that pitchers Tyler Matzek and Tyler Anderson could see time at ONEOK Field this season. The left-handers were named the Rockies Number 5 and 6 Prospects by MLB.com.
Matzek, a first-round pick (11th overall) of Colorado in 2009, was 6-8 for the Nuts with a 4.62 ERA. He averaged over a strikeout per inning and walked almost seven batters per nine innings.
Anderson was 12-3 with a 2.47 ERA for Low Class A Asheville last year and may start 2013 in Modesto. Baseball America has speculated that he could possibly skip a level and being the season in Tulsa.
Espy and Riggs will oversee Tulsa's spring training workouts that will begin in late February at the Rockies Complex in Arizona.
The Drillers will open the 2013 regular season on April 4 in San Antonio. The two teams will also meet for Tulsa's home opener at ONEOK Field on Thursday, April 11.