Fans of the Tulsa Drillers have many reasons to look forward to the 2018 season, but one of the biggest reasons to be excited is because of who will be leading the club from the dugout. The Drillers and Los Angeles Dodgers announced today that Scott Hennessey will return as the manager of the Drillers for the 2018 Texas League campaign.
In addition to Hennessey, hitting coach Terrmel Sledge and coach Leo Garcia will also be back in Tulsa. Newcomers will include pitching coach Dave Borkowski, technology/development coach Peter Summerville, trainer Kalie Swain and performance coach Shaun Alexander.
"We are thrilled to have Scott back for a full season as the Drillers manager," said club President Mike Melega. "Scott did a phenomenal job with our team last year after taking over mid-season. He and his coaching staff relate very well with the players and with our fans, and they give us a very good chance of having success in 2018."
Hennessey will lead the Drillers in 2018 as the team's 23rd full-time manager after a notable half season in 2017. He made his managerial debut with the Drillers on July 24th after Ryan Garko resigned to take a college head coaching job at the University of the Pacific. The Drillers were 50-50 when Hennessey took over, but he led them to a 27-13 record during the rest of the regular season en route to a Texas League North Division second-half title.
Despite the standout overall record under Hennessey, the Drillers were even more impressive playing at home as they went 18-2 at ONEOK Field under the watchful eye of their new manager. That included the team setting the franchise record for most consecutive wins at home with 15 straight victories from July 27 through August 30.
Hennessey's club came within one game of winning the Drillers first Texas League championship since 1998, falling 1-0 to Midland in the winner-take-all game five of the TL Championship Series.
"I am looking forward to being back in Tulsa," said Hennessy. "I really enjoyed my time in the city last year, and I couldn't be happier about returning because the fans and the atmosphere at ONEOK Field are great. We have an outstanding staff in place, and I am ready to get going. I know the season is just around the corner, but it cannot get here fast enough for me."
Before being appointed as the interim manager of the Drillers, Hennessey served as a scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers over the past decade. He was assigned to Tulsa on June 22 to be an additional assistant coach after he helped the big-league club prepare for the June Amateur Draft.
Prior to scouting for the Dodgers, Hennessey was the head coach at two different high school baseball programs in the Jacksonville, Florida area from 1998-2006. He also has college coaching experience, serving as an assistant coach on Cowley County's (Kansas) NJCAA World Series champions program from 1997-98.
Hennessey also played in the Kansas City Royals organization as an outfielder from 1990-91.
Borkowski will replace Bill Simas as the new Drillers pitching coach after Simas received a promotion to the same position with the Oklahoma City Dodgers. 2018 will be Borkowski's first year in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization after he spent eight years as a pitching coach in the Houston Astros system.
The former pitcher enjoyed a 14-year professional, playing career after being drafted in the 11th round of the 1995 MLB Amateur Draft by the Detroit Tigers. He appeared in 181 big-league games over seven seasons with Detroit, Baltimore, and Houston.
Sledge will be in his third year in the Dodgers organization as the hitting coach for the Drillers. During his time with Tulsa, he has helped guide players like Cody Bellinger, Kyle Farmer, and Tim Locastro to the big leagues while helping players like Edwin Rios and Matt Beaty position themselves into top prospect status going into 2018.
Sledge played outfield in the big-leagues for Montreal, Washington, and San Diego from 2004-2007 before going to Japan to play professionally from 2008-2012.
Garcia rejoins the Tulsa staff in the same capacity that he has served for the past three seasons. He has been a coach in the Dodgers organization since 2009. Prior to joining the Dodgers, he coached in the San Francisco Giants minor league system for 6 years and was their Latin America coordinator in 2007. Before his coaching career, Garcia spent 13 years in the White Sox, Royals, and Reds organizations as an outfielder. He played in parts of two major league seasons with the Reds in 1987 and 1988.
Swain will serve as the club's athletic trainer, replacing Jason Kirkman who was promoted to the same position with Triple-A Oklahoma City. Swain has been a trainer in the LA Dodgers minor league system since the 2014 season. She spent the 2014-16 seasons with the Great Lakes Loons before moving to the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes last year.
Like Swain, Alexander comes to Tulsa from Rancho Cucamonga to replace Tyler Norton as the club's performance coach after Norton was also promoted to Oklahoma City. The 2018 season will also be his fifth season as a strength and performance coach in the Dodgers system. Prior to that, he held the same position in the Miami Marlins organization from 2012-13.
Summerville will join the Drillers staff as the technology/development coach which is a new position created by the LA Dodgers for the 2018 season.
In addition to the Drillers, the Dodgers have announced the coaching staffs for all of the minor league affiliates.
Triple-A Oklahoma City
Manager - Bill Haselman
Pitching Coach - Bill Simas
Hitting Coach - Adam Melhuse
Coach - Luis Matos
Manager - Scott Hennessey
Pitching Coach - Dave Borkowski
Hitting Coach - Terrmel Sledge
Coach - Leo Garcia
Single-A Rancho Cucamonga
Manager - Drew Saylor
Pitching Coach - Connor McGuinness
Hitting Coach - Justin Viele
Coach - Petie Montero
Single-A Great Lakes
Manager - John Shoemaker
Pitching Coach - Bobby Cuellar
Hitting Coach - Jair Fernandez
Coach - Seth Conner
Manager - Jeremy Rodriguez
Pitching Coach - Dean Stiles
Hitting Coach - Dustin Kelly
Coach - Fumimasa Ishibashi
Rookie-level AZL Dodgers
Manager - Mark Kertenian
Pitching Coach - Luis Meza
Hitting Coach - Jarek Cunningham
Coach- Tony Cappuccilli
Coach- Jairo Pacheco
Coach- Chris Gutierrez
The Drillers will open their 2018 season on the road in Frisco on April 5, but will play their first home game of the year at ONEOK Field against the same Frisco RoughRiders on Thursday, April 12 at 7:05 PM. Both full and partial-season membership plans are still available and can be purchased through the Drillers Ticket Office or by calling a member of the Drillers front office staff at 918-744-5901.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.