In 2019, the Eugene Emeralds will look to defend their Northwest League Championship, seeking their 3rd NWL title in 4 years as well. They'll have the added benefit of returning much of the coaching staff from last summer's magical run through the postseason, including manager Steven Lerud.
Lerud will return to Eugene for his second stint as manager, famously guiding the 2018 Emeralds to the Northwest League Championship after a league-worst 31-45 record. However, once reaching the playoffs, the Ems rattled off 5 consecutive victories to capture the title, sweeping the league-best Hillsboro Hops in the South Division Series and the Spokane Indians in the finals. Leading up to the end of the regular season, the team embodied Lerud's never-say-die attitude, with players embracing the "Bad News Ems" moniker and "Don't Let Us In" phrase uttered by Lerud.
Armando Gabino returns as pitching coach in 2019, his 5th season overall as a pitching coach in the Chicago Cubs' system. He helped guide an Ems' staff that finished the 2018 season with a 4.13 ERA, as well as fostering spectacular seasons from starters Brailyn Marquez and Faustino Carrera, each leading the league in ERA for extended points of the season.
Ty Wright returns to Eugene after serving as Single-A Myrtle Beach's hitting coach the past 2 seasons. Wright was the Ems' hitting coach in 2016 and helped break the franchise's 41-year championship drought that season. Carlos Rojas joins the 2019 staff as assistant coach, his fifth season as a coach in the Cubs' system.
Two familiar faces will also be in the trainer's room, as Sean Folan will be the club's Athletic Trainer for the second consecutive season, while Ryan Nordtvedt will be the strength and conditioning coach, returning to Eugene after spending two straight years in South Bend. He was with the Emeralds in the same role in 2015 and 2016.
The Eugene Emeralds have enjoyed an unprecedented amount of success as a Cubs' affiliate since 2015, reaching the NWL Championship series in three consecutive seasons, winning 2 out of 3 titles. With a lot of familiar faces guiding the 2019 Emeralds, next summer will hopefully resemble much of the same. We'll begin to find out together on Opening Night at PK Park on June 14th.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.