The Charleston RiverDogs will begin the hunt for a fourth consecutive Carolina League championship in early April. A familiar face will be guiding that attempt as Sean Smedley returns for a second year as the team’s manager. The rest of the coaching staff, announced by the Tampa Bay Rays on
The Charleston RiverDogs will begin the hunt for a fourth consecutive Carolina League championship in early April. A familiar face will be guiding that attempt as Sean Smedley returns for a second year as the team’s manager. The rest of the coaching staff, announced by the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday afternoon, features returners Levi Romero as pitching coach, Ronnie Richardson as bench coach and Halee Williams as athletic trainer. New to the Holy City will be hitting coach Brett Schneider and strength and conditioning coach Giovanni Caraballo.
Smedley is entering his eighth season with the Rays and his second as the manager in Charleston. During the 2023 season, his first in a managerial role, the 33-year-old guided the RiverDogs to their third straight championship. Under his tutelage, the RiverDogs became the first Minor League Baseball team since 2008 to finish in last place at the conclusion of the first half, and then rebound to win a championship.
His coaching career began as video coordinator for the rookie-level Princeton Rays in 2016. In 2017, he returned to Princeton, this time as the bench coach. For the next two seasons, Smedley was part of former RiverDogs manager Blake Butera’s staff as the bench coach for the Hudson Valley Renegades.
The native of Colorado was announced as the manager in Princeton for the 2020 season, however before play began the season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. When play resumed in 2021, Smedley again was part of Butera’s staff as the bench coach, this time in Charleston. That team went 82-38, led the league in batting average and home runs and captured the first championship in franchise history. Smedley then spent one season as the bench coach for Double-A Montgomery, before returning to Charleston in 2023.
“We are very excited to have Sean Smedley return as our manager in Charleston for the 2024 season,” said Blake Butera, Senior Director of Player Development with the Tampa Bay Rays. “His work ethic and attention to detail is paramount for our players, staff and organization as a whole.”
During his playing days as a catcher, Smedley was a prep standout at Desert Vista High School in Phoenix, Arizona. He played one year of junior college ball at Yavapai College before transferring to Division II Texas A&M International. He went undrafted at the end of his college career but was signed as a free agent by the Rays shortly after the draft’s conclusion. In three professional seasons, he appeared in 24 games total between the Gulf Coast League Rays and Single-A Bowling Green.
Schneider heads to the Lowcountry as the RiverDogs hitting coach in his first year as a member of the Rays organization. He spent the previous four years as a hitting coach in the Seattle Mariners farm system, including with the Arizona Complex League Mariners in 2023. His roster in the ACL finished with the most home runs in the 17-team circuit and hit a combined .263. Prior to coaching in the professional ranks, Schneider was a volunteer assistant coach at Florida Atlantic University. He also served as hitting coach for the Green Bay Bullfrogs of the Northwoods League in 2016 and managed the Great Lakes Collegiate League’s Richmond Jazz in 2017.
Romero returns as pitching coach for the second consecutive season after leading the 2023 staff to the league’s third-best ERA. Prior to joining the RiverDogs, he served in the same role with the Rays Florida Complex League affiliate in 2022. Romero was the pitching coach for one of the Rays two entries in the Dominican Summer League in 2021. His playing career began in 2003 when he was signed out of Venezuela by the Houston Astros. In all, he pitched for five years in Minor League Baseball with the Astros and Texas Rangers before embarking on a seven-year international career that included stops in Venezuela and Japan and ended in 2015.
Richardson returns for a fourth season with Tampa Bay and second with the RiverDogs. Focusing on outfield defense and baserunning, his accomplishments included helping Chandler Simpson tie for the MiLB lead in stolen bases at the end of last season. He helped guide the FCL Rays to a 39-16 record during the 2022 regular season and an appearance in the league’s championship series. Richardson previously coached in the Miami Marlins organization, with Hillsborough Community College and in the Northwoods League with the Madison Mallards and Wisconsin Woodchucks. He was selected out of Central Florida University in the 16th round of the 2012 MLB Draft by the San Diego Padres. He played three seasons in their farm system, posting a .262 career batting average.
This will be Caraballo's first season as the RiverDogs Strength & Conditioning coach after a brief stint working in Charleston last summer. Caraballo was hired by the Rays in late 2022 and spent last season in the same role with the Florida Complex League Rays at their facility in Sarasota. A New Jersey native, Caraballo began his career with the Houston Astros after graduating from Montclair State University with a Bachelor of Science with a major in Physical Education.
Williams embarks on her fifth year with the Rays and second with the RiverDogs. She graduated with her bachelor’s degree in athletic training from Indiana Wesleyan University. While in school, she interned with the Arizona Diamondbacks and, after graduating, spent a season with the Oakland Athletics. Williams began working with the Rays in 2019, while completing her Global Master’s Degree in Sports Management and Legal Skills through Instituto Superior de Derecho y Economía and FC Barcelona in 2020.
The RiverDogs will aim for a fourth-consecutive championship when the 2024 season commences in April. The full schedule is available here. Season tickets, Dog-E Coin plans, and group tickets, including options to the Segra Club at Riley Park, are available at riverdogs.com/tickets. The Segra Club is also open for events year-round. Visit segraclub.com for more information. The brand new RiverDogs Food Truck is available for your next event! Contact the RiverDogs front office at 843-577-3647 (DOGS) for more information.