Wilmington, Del. -- Darryl Kennedy will return to the First State in 2014 for his second stint as manager of the Wilmington Blue Rocks. Kennedy, who last managed in Wilmington during the 2008 season, will bring an experienced coaching staff with him to the Riverfront, led by pitching coach Steve Luebber, hitting coach Jose Castro, bench coach Justin Gemoll, athletic trainer James Stone and strength coach Joe Greany.
Kennedy piloted the Blue Crew to a 69-71 record in 2008 and helped Wilmington earn a trip to the Mills Cup playoffs that year. He becomes only the second manager in franchise history to make a second tour of duty as Wilmington manager. John Mizerock, who skippered the Rocks from 1995-1997 and again in 2007, is the other.
Kennedy spent the last four seasons as the manager of the Surprise Royals in the AZL. Surprise finished the 2013 campaign 22-33. He also captained the Idaho Falls Chukars (2009) and the Burlington Royals (2007) within the Royals organization, as well as the Frisco RoughRiders (2005-06), the Double-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers. A 37th-round pick by the Rangers in 1991 out of the University of North Florida, Kennedy was a college All-American as a senior. He also attended and played baseball at Manatee Community College.
Luebber returns to the Riverfront for his eighth season with the Rocks and his 47th year in professional baseball overall. He is the longest-tenured coach in franchise history.
Gemoll is also a familiar face at Frawley Stadium. He played in Wilmington during the 2002 campaign, part of a seven-season playing career. He batted .310 with 20 doubles, 49 RBIs and 56 runs scored as a Blue Rock. The 2014 season will be his seventh as a coach in the Royals organization. He served as the Rocks' hitting coach in 2009 and 2010.
Cruz is new to Wilmington. He was the Royals' minor league assistant hitting coordinator in 2013, joining the organization that offseason from the Seattle Mariners, where he served as the Minor League hitting coordinator for five seasons. That stint included 2010, when he worked in several roles, including interim Major League hitting coach, and was named the organization's Coach of the Year.
Stone will be in his second season as Wilmington's trainer, while Greany is in his first season with the Rocks.
Vance Wilson, who managed the Blue Rocks each of the last two seasons, will skipper Double-A Northwest Arkansas in 2014.
The Blue Rocks drew over 290,000 fans to Frawley Stadium in 2013, helping the Carolina League establish a new overall attendance record. In 2014, Wilmington will welcome the California/Carolina League All-Star Game to the First State. The festivities begin on Monday, June 16 with a special hitting challenge and will continue on Tuesday, June 17 with the All-Star Game itself. Full season seats as well as mini-plans are on sale now, while group packages for the 2014 campaign are available beginning November 6. For more information call 302-888-BLUE or visit bluerocks.com.